My peach tree just finished harvest. It’s grown extremely large, and as a courtesy to my neighbor I would like to prune the center trunk down to about 7’ from the 12’ it is now. The center branch/trunk at that point is about three or 4 inches thick. Is it dangerous to saw something like that off the heat of summer?
I prune peach trees in the summer if I have time. The only problem I’ve had is that if too much wood is removed, some scaffolds can get sunburned in our high summer sun, but overall I’ve had less problems pruning peaches in the summer, than pruning them in late fall, or even early spring.
That said, a 4" wound is about the biggest wound most peaches will heal. The problem is that the wood can rot out before the callus tissue can cover the wound. A strong solution of copper once a year will help keep the wood from rotting before the tree can callus the wound.
Depending on the vigor of the tree, it may take 4 years or more to callus over a wound that big. Nevertheless, I would chop that tree down to a manageable height.
I have this same question and problem of a too tall vigorous peach. I can’t decide to just let it be and open up the structure in late winter or prune it now. It looks like quite a few of the lower branches have set terminal buds for the year. Would that make it more of an issue?
My thought is that if we have <15°F lows that I would bring it down to a manageable height in the winter. And if it a warm winter to just let it be until we have that cold winter which we are liable to have.
Thanks a lot, ill give it a shot then. Itll be unusually dry and hot all week, I imagine this will aide healing?
I’ll use a nice saw and alcohol.
Oh, I want you as my neighbor! Your handle is true to type
It really has been easy for me just always keeping it under 8 feet. I never need more than hand pruners, although a few times I thought of taking it to 6 feet. I would need loppers, and also lose a lot of fruiting wood. So once pruned keep on top of it. I just pruned my nectarine back, it has not ripened yet. Only removed new wood. Netted it as the animals are eying the almost ripe fruit. About 2 weeks till harvest, two weeks late. Last year I harvested today! It is not ready this year.
I’ve had more winter dieback from pruning in winter (late winter or early winter) than pruning in summer. I’ve never had dieback from pruning in summer, but have had dieback if I need to do major pruning in late winter or very early spring. This has been especially true for young peach trees pruned heavily in order to select scaffolds at that time of year.
Fall/winter pruning peaches in my area is also discouraged. It tends to kill the trees or at least reduce their production/lifespan. Large peach growers with migrant labor camps in NC used to try to use the labor available after the harvest was finished to get some pruning done before the labor left for the year. Lots of these trees fell into decline.
I can completely see how that could happen Blueberry. I would mention if I don’t prune too hard in the winter (just vigorous water spouts on mature trees) then I haven’t noticed any dieback or decline yet. The difference may be the high vigor we get on our trees out here (and/or lack of nematodes).
I can’t seem to get peach trees to calm down until they are about a decade old. Part of it too may be that I use a lot of wood chip mulch to suppress weeds which I’m sure adds a lot of N to the soil long term.
Sometimes I think the winter pruning I do may make fruit buds more winter tender too.
I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to do much pruning at all in winter or very early spring to young peach trees. I’ve lost a few of those the last few years because of heavy pruning.
I know what you mean. Some commercial growers around me don’t add any N at all and still get too much growth. I made the mistake of putting 2 cups of 10/10/10 around each tree this spring. I was hoping to produce over 2 BU of peaches per tree on the 4 year old trees. The frost killed the peaches and the trees grew like crazy and doubled in size. Big mistake! It going to take a huge about of pruning to get the trees cut back down to 8 feet. Plan to split my fertilizer applications next year. 1/2 before bloom and 1/2 after the freeze danger is over.
I have also noticed that some commercial growers prune when the trees are blooming. I was told that they regulate the amount of pruning depending on the amount of bloom and use the pruning as part of the thinning process.
This year has taught me a lesson. I plan to do what pruning I have to do this fall or winter. That is, light pruning of just removing big waterspouts. Those have to removed no matter what. But any additional pruning, I’m going to wait till after fruit set when frost risk is pretty much over.
I almost invested in a Cinch thinner this spring. I had a friend who bought a couple to use on his orchard because it’s so expensive trying to hand thin everything. But with our unpredictable spring weather, I’m afraid to thin blooms when there is so much risk of frost.
Btw Blueberry, I’m getting more information after fruiting so many new varieties for the second year. A couple I really like are Glenglo (-13) and Glohaven (+14). These are excellent commercial peaches here imo. Huge fruit, color very nice, very clean from a bac. spot standpoint. Real eye poppers. Came through our spring frosts pretty well too. Glohaven was absolutely monstrous. These fruit were so large it broke scaffolds on two of my five Glohaven trees, despite being thinned aggressively. Glenglo, is very large for such an early fruit. It blows Early Redhaven, Garnet Beauty, Surecrop, and Risingstar out of the water.
I know you are usually busy this time of year, when all is said and done on your farm, I know I and many others would appreciate and value your input in an end of year report on your varieties similar to what Scott does. I enjoy and value your input as i adjust it for my growing conditions and schedule.
I prune just before bud break. Late frosts are usually not an issue, although it was this year. I didn’t really see any dieback, or any problems. I need to see the structure, which is a lot harder in the summer.
I definitely do alot of summer pruning on peaches and nectarines, all my trees actually. I think if you want to keep your fruiting wood low you have to keep the tree open for light penetration. I sometimes prune my trees 3 times in the summer. It also keeps plenty of sunlight on the fruit for good color.
Thanks a lot folks. I got the pruning done last week. The thickest branch was actually about 2 inches across,.
After summer pruning, is it good to starve the tree of water and nutrients, or should I give it fertilizer and water it liberally? It’s been naturally hot and dry last couple of weeks.
The tree shouldn’t need any more fertilizer until next year,but water if the soil is dry.Is there mulch? Brady
Summer pruning of peaches is much more demanding when trees don’t have crop. I keep coming back and taking off more new wood to maintain the right sized shoots for next years crop- they keep getting to darn thick and tall. The last time I went through this drill was 20 years ago and I knew far less then.
Unlike Olpea, I don’t worry at all about when I prune in regards to having wounds close. Cuts I’ve made have never led to any long term issues and my trees tend to be exceptionally long lived in a productive state, whether big wounds are unclosed or closed.
B.Thrill, if I was you I wouldn’t give the trees any N at all until it looked like they needed it unless you have a sandy soil and are certain that they will. I determine my applications based on what my trees show me and it doesn’t take much time for urea to create response.
In my nursery I used 90day sulfur coated urea for my peaches and it worked extremely well. Even thought the 90 days are over they continue to grow with more vigor than I’ve ever seen. I only give this stuff to bearing trees when I see they need it.
Some tips for summer pruning stonefruit in a warm Calif climate:
That’s some good advice! My fertilizer rate this year was based on the leaf tissue report from last year combined with the soil test report, the age/size of the trees and the crop expectations. I plan to put out about 1/2 that abount next year and see how the trees respond
Most peaches in my state are grown on sandy soil like you mentioned and I believe the fertilizer recommendations are probably too high for soils like mine. With no freeze, the fertilizer (2 cups tree 10/10/10) should have produced a huge crop. 180# of 10/10/10 per acre did not seem like a lot of fertilizer at the time (less than 20 pounds N per acre), but after the fertilizer and no crop, my trees are huge! Its going to take a lot of time to get the trees down to size.
I jerked out about 75 shoots growing into the center of the tree this year based on advice from the peach doctor. It was fast and easy and I wish I would have done it a second time.
Its strange that 20 pounds on N made the peach trees grow like crazy, but the apples which are right next to the peaches got almost 100 pounds of N which was not enough!
Thanks a lot all. I really like that guy’s videos. Very pragmatic, not a lot of beating around the … bush.