How do you recognize last year's fruiting branches on a nectarine

In Sanford Martin’s How to Prune Fruit Trees, in the chapter on pruning nectarine trees he says: “First, remove any dead or interfering wood from the tree top, along with any branches which [sic] bore fruit last year.”

How does one determine which branches bore fruit last year?

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You tagged them last year.

Last years new growth usually has a reddish tint to the wood. That’s the wood that will bear fruit in 2023. Growth below that is what bore fruit last year. So to say you should remove any, inferring all, of that wood will remove all or most of the 2023 bloom and crop.

My pruning would remove about 1/3 of the wood that bore in 2022. That should leave about 2/3 of the new wood that will bear the next crop.


Yes, I guess I should have tagged all those branches last year, but that seems like a crazy amount of work. Is Martin’s really saying to remove all branches that produced fruit last year? If so, it would seem to suggest that branches that produce fruit in a given year, never also produce new branches (which would produce fruit the next year). Is that the case with nectarines? Do new branches only grow out of branches that did not produce fruit in the previous season?

I read about your method of removal about 40 years ago. The few times I have grown peaches the method of 1/3 removal has worked well.

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I often go by how far bent down it is. The more bent down the less vigor the worse the future fruit the better to get rid of. In general remove the less vigorous wood, you can go by how long the new shoots that grew the most recent year are to know how vigorous it is. If the new shoots are all not vigorous on a larger limb remove the whole section with all low vigor. It can be 2,3,4,5, etc year old wood. If there is at least one vigorous most-recent-year shoot you can keep just that bit and see if it gains vigor with everything else removed … assuming you need that part of the tree.