How do I prune young peach tree

I have this contender peach that I plant last spring it been in the ground for 7-8 months now. I was wondering how to prune in the spring?

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You might get 10 different opinions on how to prune any given tree a lot depends on your goals. What shape are you trying to go for? What root stock and how high are you planning on letting it go? Also where about are you located? Are you willing to forgo early fruiting for better long term structure?

Did you prune this tree at all at planting? I ask because that is typically the time you do the most aggressive pruning to decided on long term structure.

That said I prune my trees all open center and try to keep them at around 8 feet tall. So take what I say with a grain of salt.

The main issue I see with your tree is that there are two competing leaders - the central one and the one located on the R side. The crotch angle between them is not ideal and likely will at some point break once the R branch gets loaded with fruit. The Leader on the L side looks nicer and is weaker. If I had planted the tree I likely would have removed the entire central leader which you can still do.

Another option if trying to keep it more of a central leader would be to to either look to see if the R hand leader is if it can be tied down/spread (I think the branch looks a bit thick to festoon but it might be possible) or consider removing it. Then choose a branch with a better crotch angle and groom it to be the leader going that way. You also would have to choose which of the 4 or so leaders you want to continue growing up.

You could also remove the R hand branch and go for a modified central leader/delayed open center which might be the best option. Remove the Large R hand leader. Keep the lower L and then choose 4 or so branches 6-10 inches apart going up the tree going in cardinal directions and then remove the renaming portion of the central leader.

It is good to remember that peaches grown on 1 year old wood only so you need to build a plan to keep new wood growing at all times.

All these will involve removing quit a significant amount of wood which likely will delay fruiting and stress the tree (It would have been better to make this decision at planting time). Fortunately peaches grow quite quickly and likely you would have something within a year or so.

I also would consider delaying pruning until late winter/early spring given you are zone 5a there might be some dieback of the tips of the tree which migh affect what you prune/keep.

You can also do nothing of course. You might get a crop/set next spring if you do. My sister has such a tree that does really well despite her lack of care/pruning - but that relies on luck. Eventually though the tree may run into issues with branching and shading which will increase disease pressure.


I didn’t do any pruning when I plant it last spring. I live in Nebraska zone 5a. I was think counting down the leaders about 2 feet somebody told me and making my 5-6 main branches off the main leaders. It grow so fast in four month.



In these pictures this what they want me cut off

I would like to get open center v-shape if I could. I don’t want to high of a tree. I have another tree put it didnt grow that much

I think Piblarg had some good comments. I’ll offer a few more.

If the healthy vigorous peach tree you posted pics of were one of mine, I would do the following:

Don’t touch it until this coming spring and there is good green tissue growth going. I’d probably wait till I saw some complete peach leaves formed.

Then head back the central leader to about where you have the horizontal red line, maybe a bit lower.

Then on the competing leader (the first picture on post #4) cut that one completely off where it attaches to the trunk. Don’t head it back, but completely remove it. This is the competing leader which is on the left side of the tree on the first picture in post #4.

This will leave you with one leader (which you would head back to the red horizontal line - or lower) and one scaffold.

Then on the one remaining scaffold, you currently have it branching 3 ways right where it comes out of the trunk. Remove two of those, so that you only have one scaffold branch coming out of the trunk at that point. I’d probably leave the middle branch and cut off the other two outside branches right where they come out of the trunk.

The tree may have some flowers this spring, which you may be tempted to keep by avoiding pruning branches you should. But if you want a well formed tree, you’ll need to correctively prune the peach tree, ignoring any flowers/fruitlets which are pruned off.

Then this summer when the remaining leader starts sending out new shoots, choose some of those as your two remaining scaffolds, during the summer. Start pruning those for shape during the summer. It’s not uncommon for me to prune some young trees 2 times during the first summer. Some are pruned 3 times during that first summer. This avoids massive pruning you will have to do this coming spring.

I’ve posted these videos before. Imo, they are the best peach pruning videos I’ve seen on the internet.

Your last photo shows something clearly wrong with that tree. Do you know what variety that is?

It has hardly any growth at all, and it appears some of the bark had possibly died, but it’s hard to tell from pictures. Did you over-water that tree, or is it in spot that gets a lot of run-off? Something is definitely going on for it to have such a lack of vigor. Do you know what rootstock it’s on? Unless something changes with that tree, it’s never going to make anything close to a productive peach tree.

Btw, on your healthy peach tree, you’ll want to expand the mulch circle. Probably by at least a foot in all directions.

Lastly, I must say I like your forum call sign. I’m a fan of superheros (I’m secretly a superhero myself.) Look at what I got for Christmas. :grinning:


Can you draw me a picture how you would prune it? This my first time doing it. The last tree is the same kind as the top one. It had a lot of leaf on it during the summer time but it take off like the other one. It’s really green now. The healthy tree took off. But the trunk didn’t get much bigger on the last picture

You mean cut this off the hole thing

Then you would head this one like that right.

Than you would cut these one off right?

On this one I’m going to cut this one off here and make four main branches off it. There a lot off green on it you just can see it in the pictures

On the healthy tree, I’d do exactly as your pic shows with the double leader. Cut the extra leader off completely at where it connects to the trunk. Like you show in this picture.

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Then head the central leader back as you show in your next pic, except I would head it back lower, by about a foot lower than the yellow horizontal mark.

Here is the pic I’m referring to:

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On the scaffold branch on the left, don’t cut all that off at the trunk. As far as I can tell on that scaffold, there are 3 branches which branch off immediately where that scaffold is growing from the trunk. Just remove two of those branches, but keep one of those branches there because that’s a nice spot to have a scaffold and it’s got a reasonable crotch angle.

This is the picture I’m referring to.

I think if you think about the content in the videos I posted, it will make more sense about what I’m trying to have you do with your tree. You will have one scaffold after all this pruning, then you can select the other two as the remaining trunk puts out more shoots.

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For the sick peach tree, you could go ahead and head it back to where the yellow line is. I’m honestly not very optimistic about that tree. There is something fairly major going on with it.

There only 7-8 month old. When I got them plant it was in may so they only had three month to grow before it got cold. There both contender peach tree. I’m going to do what you said. I don’t think that tree sick. Because it grow over foot or more and it’s got a lot green in the branch

Here are a few pics of my last peach tree start.


Nice trees.
How would you trim this tree?