Enjoying my expanding spheres

Or put less elegantly, watching my balls grow. It is also a matter of the growth of anticipation as you watch the fruit get bigger and bigger by the day.

Spring is almost spent and fruit crops I’m managing have avoided all the potential winter and spring pitfalls of weather swings, insect and disease (the latter due to spray) voles, etc. Lots of apricot trees did die, but I try not to be too attached to that species, besides the Alfred growing against the south and east sides of my house. It is nicely set with fruit this year as are most stone fruit, besides cherries, which rotted out before they really formed from excessive early spring rain. (Are the shotholed yellow and brown leaves adjacent to where fruit would be the result of bacterial leaf spot?)

Spring weather started out like last year- too cool and much too wet, but in the last few weeks it has warmed up and been close to perfect for setting fruit. I still haven’t quite finished all the thinning in my own orchard and only started working on clients last week. It is so tedious but so necessary to get truly amazing fruit- full sized and full flavored of higher quality than can even be purchased from local farm stands- forget about grocery stores. Of course it can also encourage annual bearing.

Thinning for me is also a pruning operation. I eliminate crowding branches that shade each other as I thin fruit- I also rub off unneeded growth that shades or will shade the leaves near fruit. Small peach twigs on the underside of branches all need to go. There is no point for home growers to grow fruit on shaded branches or twigs- the fruit that is less than great isn’t worth the effort of bringing to harvest. Save the tree’s and sun’s energy only for what’s needed, as much as reasonably doable. Don’t worry about keeping branches that are excessively shading or shaded just to hold on to a little more fruit- more open, more better- unless you live in an area with extremely strong sun that scalds fruit.

Pruning season is actually pretty much all season long when you are determined to grow the highest quality fruit you can.

Thinning also continues for longer than you might expect, although it is generally best to do it as thoroughly as you can as early as you can. But it is also sometimes useful to leave some extra to allow for later insect damage. However, no matter what my strategy, I always miss a lot of fruit I should have thinned earlier- it all becomes more apparent as the spheres expand.


I know, looking at one of my peach trees today I had to second guess myself if I thinned it or not. I will have to make a second pass at it too. I thinned my apples when I bagged them. I bagged just in time to get one good apple out of five in most clusters. Some clusters were totally removed. I would go through one branch at a time with the scissors first then bag them. It speeds up baging. I find bagging them with sandwich bags is the easiest way for me to get good fruit. There’s to many bugs in the jungle surrounding my orchard. It’s amazing how fast they get bigger after a nice rain.

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LOL!!! ILPF is gonna have to cut off one of his balls!

Sorry, that joke was just too easy.

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Unfortunately, the balls are growing too fast at orchards I manage, especially peach balls- making them more attractive to squirrels sooner after petal fall than usual. At a site I was at yesterday, almost all peaches had been shredded by squirrels before I got there to thin and protect them.

Around here, the squirrels seem to use these smallish balls to grind down their teeth because the tissue looks like it all ends up under the trees in tiny pieces. Usually I get a longer grace period after I wind up the second essential insecticide spray here, but a late spring with warm clear days means accelerated growth of the fruit- you can almost see the balls growing. The bigger they are the more attractive to squirrels.

It is almost perfect weather to produce high quality balls of fruit- if you can protect them from the furry thieves. And the feathered ones- at some sites even they eat green peaches- then I often use both a baffle and a net.

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@alan @scottfsmith


How big are your nectarine fruits now? Mine are about 1-1.5” long and 0.75-1” in diameter (they are a little oblong); my varieties ripen in mid to late Aug and they are third leaf trees. I am a little concerned they should be bigger than that by now. Otherwise, the trees look quite healthy.

My nectarines size up a bit slower than your average peach. It depends what you are comparing it to as well, my early peaches are large now but the late ones are about the size of the nectarines.

Some of the nectarines did not size up well for several years of fruiting, but did eventually start sizing up OK. Mericrest for example took 4-5 years before I was getting reasonable-sized fruits. Its still small, just not tiny like they used to be.


This is really good to know (for me). This will be the 3rd year of having nectarines from my own tree. I was disappointed that they were quite small.

I also grafted some nectarines to a peach tree and those nects were small, too, comparing to peach produced from grafts that were grafted a year later.

Never know that it could take several years for nects to size up. Thank you for the info.

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This is not something that I’ve observed here. Only two year trees tend to bear small fruit- trees too small to really be cropping significantly anyway- and they aren’t being pruned to favor fruit development either. Nects tend to be smaller than peaches- almost like they package the same amount of brix in a smaller package. RedGold is my largest nect so far, but it can’t compete with my largest peaches. My trees have room and get plenty of N when young. Judging from wood that I get from other growers here, many have trees not as vigorous as mine, but Olpea certainly gets at least as much growth from his trees as I do.

It is the orchards I manage with feebly growing trees that tend to get small fruit, but age isn’t a factor until they get too old to be vigorous.

I don’t mind small fruit if it has high brix, and often it does. Generally, my smaller varieties tend to have higher flavor, especially the ones that ripen early in the season.

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So far, my nectarine, Earliglo, has produced small fruit.

This year alone, they are still at about a thumb size. My tree is small and has moderate growth. I did give it some urea in early spring. I hope you are right about nectarines’ size but so far, mine are more like what @scottfsmith described.

I was thinking the same thing. Everything looks healthy on the tree now, but the four fruits I left are taking their sweet time

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