I have this early peach of unknown variety planted about 12 yrs ago. 7 years ago, I grafted a methley plum to it. The peach tree has been doing very well until couple of years ago, gave me good crop of early peach in mid July. The methley branch has been growing very vigorously all along, it finally bear very good crop this year.
For the past couple years, I notice the peach branches are growing out fewer and fewer new branches. And this year, the peaches are much smaller than the plum from the same tree.
What happened to the peach branches? Anything I can do to rejuvenate them? Since the plum branch is growing very well, so I can assume the root system is still ok.
Here are some pictures of the peach branches and the plum branch. Obviously, the first 3 are peach, the last 2 are plum. All from the same tree. There are 3-4 branches of peach from the main trunk, they are all doing very poorly.
Peach trees generally have short lifespans and are said to start declining around 12 years; producing less growth and less fruit. I’m not sure how that would affect the plum graft. Peaches produce fruit on the previous years new growth.
Maybe supplying the tree with a good amount of fertilizer, and adding some compost around the tree, to help add some new growth, and then partially girdling it before blooming starts would shock it into producing more fruit?
A drastic pruning of mature wood should produce a nice flush of growth closer to the main stem. Seeing as peaches fruit in 1 year old wood, that should produce a better crop of peaches the following year.
Agree with Kellogg, you haven’t been pruning your peach enough. At 12 yrs age it may be too late to reverse that. But if mine I’d try. Do a drastic pruning of the peach and if it fails to regrow turn it into a plum tree.
@YumYumTrees @Kellogg_Hill_Farms @fruitnut Thank you for your quick reply!
This is my first fruit peach tree, didn’t know how to prune. Still not sure how to prune even now. But I understand that I have to prune drastically.
I have quite a few very thick branches (2-3” diameter ) with only new shoot at the very end. Like shown in the picture, the red circle parts are bare. If I shorten these branches, is there any chance some new shoot can grow out from the part of bare branches?
It’s hard to tell if you’ll get the new growth you need. What you might do is split it up over two yrs. Cut half back as far as you dare this yr and the others the following yr. I’ve never had a tree that long before cutting it back. I have cut back a lot of trees that were a couple of yrs without enough pruning. Those peach/nectarines have grown back better than expected.
Your story reminds me of my neighbors older frost peach tree which has likewise been losing its upper story limbs and now produces fruit only on limbs very near the ground. I have tried for 2 years with numerous types of grafts to add a new vertical structure so that I could prune off those lower limbs. I have had zero luck and typically a majority of my peach grafts have worked.
If you do grafting I suggest you save the best viable scions from this older tree next winter once they are dormant. Then order you a good new rootstock to graft onto. This spring I ordered 3 ea Puente from Fowler Nursery in Ca. I used one to create a multiple variety plum tree ( The Adara plum top of Puente, which has a Lovell peach rootstock, can accept ant stonefruit graft American, European, or Asian), I used the other two Puentes to create multiple variety peach and nectarine trees.
They are all 3 growing very well now. I can still collect a number of Adara scions from each this winter to convert other plum trees to multiple varieties.
This would be the best way to replace the older tree. You will not likely be able to save it. If you do not graft, maybe see if someone close to your location can help.
@fruitnut thank you for the suggestion! I will start with one or two branch. Don’t have the nerve to cut all branches back anyway.
@DennisD Thank you for sharing your experience! I actually was thinking of graft some to the branches, guess I should not have high Hope on graft. But I will collect scion wood as you suggested, and see what happen next year.