Advice on header cut for newly planted peach trees

Hello all, new to the forum and new to fruit trees in general! I was able to get a great deal on 5 Elberta peach trees and just planted them. It is not the ideal time based on what I am reading but fort the price it seemed worth a shot.

My main question is about an initial header cut. All 5 trees look just about like the image below. There are not currently any growing limbs low enough for the initial scaffolds. I have been reading that most places recommend initial header cut “at the time of planting”, but it’s not clear to me if this applies if you have planted in end of summer/early fall.

So my question is whether I should do the header cut now, or wait until spring. Thanks in advance.


  • Matt


In your location:
Late winter, after the worst of the freezes.


Definitely what Richard said.

Cutting now has two issues… Short healing time for the cuts is one. The other is it may spur new growth which may not harden off in time for winter.

Let them spend the rest of the summer soaking in the sun’s rays and doing it’s normal thing and next spring after you’ve pruned, they will put out new growth very happily.

Good job grabbing them at low cost.


Thank you very much @Richard and @Shibumi. What you described seemed to be the general notion about pruning in general, but I was a little thrown off about the various comments about pruning at the time of planting.

Appreciate the advice and looking forward to getting them going again in the spring. I have lots of room for more fruit trees so I’ll be scouring the forum for more information.

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'At the time of planting’is a generally assumed to be late winter while dormant or sometime in spring.

The whole point of topping the tree is to develop lower scaffolding for access later for fruit picking. Food curb appeal and shipping easy, fruit trees are tall and skinny.

Also it may be said that some nursery trees are a bit ‘top heavy’ from being pampered in their pots. A bit to much above the soil line for what is below.

Pruning allows the tree to push only the new growth it can support in it’s new home. Once the roots get going and are happy, the next year it easily catches up to what you’ve removed.

Where I live it passes where I cut it in the first summer of planting and pruning easily. You haven’t lost anything.

This is my understanding. Others can chime in and correct.

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The one thing you could do now rather than wait would be to start training your main scaffolds to attempt to grow them at equal angles around the base. If you have for example 3 generally principle scaffolds now, you could bend them in the best direction to achieve 120 degree angles between each other as you look down from above. That would evenly distribute your fruit loads among each future lateral that emerge from each scaffold keeping the stress lower on your graft union. It would also give each future lateral on each scaffold ample growing space and sun exposure simplifying pruning in years ahead! Don’t wait do it now while the wood is still more supple allowing you to bend them into your desired shape. Typically peaches are better off with an open center vase like form of growth which maximizes sun exposure. Mean while read up on pruning and bud notching techniques you should do next spring just before bud swell.
Good luck
Kent, wa