Having 2nd thoughts on peach tree spacing


#1

Okay, I had a PF17 and a Madison peach arrive from Grandpa’s Orchard on the 24th. (both on standard rootstock) And in a couple of days Stark Bro’s is sending a replacement standard size Intrepid peach.

Once situated in their final resting places, the two planted trees are exactly 13’ 2" apart. On the Stark site it says spacing s/b 12-15’. But now a few days after planting - when I stand back, the spacing looks kinda close to me.

I do have a couple Earlitreat peaches that are beginning their 5th year and are at 10’ 6" trunk to trunk at this stage, and they look just fine. But I assume they are dwarf. (They were mystery peaches mislabeled as Golden Jubilee & Belle of Georgia)

So I got to reading old GW threads on spacing, and got all concerned.

I figure to keep them a manageable height and all that, but I’m thinking if I need to I can pull one and re-position it probably w/o much stress as the trees have only been in the ground 6 days, and they pretty much look like it did when I planted them. Just a little bit of green leaf opening up some.

My concern is mainly a crowding thing. I’ve never owned a peach tree older than the 5th leaf Earlitreat’s that I have, and the only huge scaffold branched peach trees I’ve seen are in pictures!

Heck I have my Carmine Jewel bush cherries on 12’ centers!!! And here I short-sheet myself on a full blown fruit tree planting!

So is this spacing anything I need to be worrying about in your opinions, or am I gonna be fine?

Thanks!


#2

I’d say relax. That spacing is fine. Just prune to keep whatever alley you need between canopies. Stay here long enough and you’ll be planting a tree in between those two.


#3

If I had unlimited space, I’d probably do in the 10-15’ range. As it is, everything is in the 3-5’ range. So 13’ seems pretty good.


#4

In my experience it’s very hard to keep the height within reach from the ground if spacing exceeds about 4-5ft between trees and 8-10ft between rows. You will need a ladder on trees spaced 10-15ft unless you prune brutally. Even then I’m not sure how you’d reach the top center of the tree. I much prefer closer spacing.


#5

We do a 10 ft spacing here in my high density orchard. But I wont say it doesnt come with its troubles. With the vigor we see the pruning is constant. And I imagine that tight spacing would be a much larger issue in a area with higher humidity with its higher insect and disease pressures. So id say in general that the tigher the plant, the more hassle. So how much hassle do you want?


#6

That’s just it, I actually have the space (more or less) but I was wanting to keep as far away from the timber as I could on the one side, and then kinda the same deal on the other side, which is a crop field that will be in beans this year.

The other thing is that I think I let my vision of a future fencing project kind of dictate it a little bit. I have to cage against deer and I thought I may just fence the whole dang area and be done with it.

I’d went with standard rootstock thinking that they’d be stronger trees in the end, and might be more vigorous as well, but that I could keep things under control with pruning.

So I’ll just leave 'em as is and prune diligently.

Thanks for getting back to me on this so quickly!!!


#7

I was typing that response before I saw your reply Eric. So that humidity thing hits home…

Are you saying you would pull it up and create some distance then?


#8

Fruitnut; Sounds like my goal of trying to keep things pretty low may be more challenging than I thought then.

I’m hoping I didn’t make a mistake in getting these on standard rootstock. I think I recall Alan saying one time that he thought the dwarfing thing with regard to peaches was a marketing gimmick (or something similar to that) because in reality a guy can prune a peach to what he wants.

But we do suffer from intense humidity here at times, so I’m hoping I can get good air flow in and around 'em.

May be in for some ladder climbing no matter what though!


#9

So you’ve got 13ft between trees. That must mean at least 15ft between rows. If you plan to walk under the scaffolds that means they need to be 6ft or so out at the ends. Add a minimum of 4ft onto that and you’re at 10ft height. That’s ladder height to me.

Peaches don’t have good dwarfing rootstocks. On standard trees most people will have a 10-12ft tall tree even with regular pruning. And that may be all you can do if your soil is strong and growth vigorous.


#10

I plant all of my peaches on 18’ centers with open vases and I keep them head high with no problem whatsoever. That’s the way I learned to grow them from the commercial growers and Clemson agents that I know. But you can keep them any size you want. Peach trees are fast growers, so you can experiment as much as you want, but you cannot add space after you plant them. If you want them to be wider later on, the space must be there to accommodate that additional width. All of my fruit trees are pruned to be head high so I don’t have to climb a ladder to do anything to them. I also might add that I grow peaches for quality and volume production, so the wider the spacing, the more production I’m going to get.


#11

Ray’s practice is the same as mine although I don’t have quite as much room. I keep mine 10’-15’ on center, open vase, with height controlled to 8’ – which is the elevation of my wrist with my arm extended straight up.


#12

Ray:

So how high are your scaffolds and just what do you consider head high? On 18ft centers I’d think your scaffolds would need to be flat at 3ft to keep tree to 6ft. Can you post a picture? My trees spaced 3ft by 6ft quickly reach 7ft tall. I prune as high as I can reach and I’m 6-3.


#13

I start all of my trees as 30" whips or lower, depending upon how big they are, when I get them from the nursery. Some are as low as 18." So the scaffolds start from there. An open vase system naturally makes the tree arch outwards and not straight up. Hence the width, without excessive height. I’m 6 ft, and I keep them within arms length, which is what I refer to as head high. I prune anything I can’t reach from the ground. Once the tree starts to bear fruit, the weight of the fruit helps to force the tree to maintain the arch structure.


#14

Is this because the tighter spacing causes root competition which dampens the vigor? There is enough water where I am that even in 4 foot spacing I see very strong growth (5+’/year in the first couple years). I’ve been using a step ladder for pruning, but it is still higher than I’d like- I think some were around 13-14’ before the last winter pruning where I cut it back to ~10-11’.

I have one peach on Citation rootstock and it is showing a completely different level of vigor- a bit weaker than a B9 apple, which is about perfect for me. I added 3 more peach/nectarines on Citation this spring, so we’ll see if it was a one-tree anomaly or a rootstock characteristic.

Yes, I’ve had some brown rot issues which are probably exasperated by the close spacing. But, I haven’t sprayed anything other than Surround on them, so some fungicide may resolve the issue this year.


#15

This isn’t really so in my experience and from what I read, as long as you train the trees near horizontal starting with low branches. Olpea’s trees are spaced quite far apart and they are low enough to manage without a ladder, judging from photos and his trees are as vigorous as you should want them.

Even with the long trunks in my system, most fruit is in reach of humans- but not deer.

Summer pruning once or twice is all that is required. Where I run into problems are places I don’t summer prune.

I spread branches to near horizontal at 4-5 feet up the trunk. If need be I pull them down again later from further out, but the crop does most of that work. .


#16

You guys must be 7ft tall. :grimacing:


#17

Typical commercial shape is kind of I goblet as I recall- because that is a shape that can be realized by pruning only. In a small orchard it is not prohibitively time consuming to keep new wood staked low as it develops beyond 5’ from the trunk. It does take some work to fight the vertical tendency and just pruning to an outside bud won’d get it.

I’ve read that in Japan they keep cherries on mazzard at pedestrian height, but the gov allows them to charge crazy high prices by keeping foreign competition out. They can take their sweet time to get it right.


#18

I’m planning the space for my fruit trees and have a question about spacing. I’m planting 2 peaches, one persimmon and One Asian pear. Everything is on standard size rootstock. (OHxF97 is standard right?)
They will all go in one row. I can give them 10 ft between. It’ll be the only row so there’s plenty of space on the sides. As far as between the tree space goes, will they benefit much more from getting 13ft in between vs 10? I can give them 10 ft in between but can manage to give 12-13 ft. But if the difference isn’t all that much, then I’d rather not “waste” space. Thoughts?


#19

The space won’t be wasted but they can be maintained in a tighter space. Personally, I prefer 15’ X 20’ spacing for peaches and have 2 varieties per tree. Asian pears are fairly columnar and tend to be self dwarfing.


#20

Thanks. I’ll go with 12 then.