How far back can you cut a peach tree?


#1

Hello all
My main peach tree (3 years old “Hakuhou” variety) is planted in a poor location, it’s growing over my grapevine trellis, and more importantly growing into the neighbors kaki tree.
This time last year I cut it back a lot, training it into a vase like shape. It’s seemed to work, although a few of the branches turned into dead ends, just collecting mold.
It grows so quickly, that accessing it is difficult during the growing season given it’s cramped location. Additionally, it’s a disease and pest magnet, so I’m getting kind of sick of it. I’ll give it one more shot next year, starting early and hard with a full pesticide program (which I’m not happy about doing).
I was thinking of severely dwarfing it, and making it intentionally lopsided so it will not be an obstruction. Not sure if it will still be able to produce decent fruit that way, or even survive the cutting process.
What do you think?


#2

Can you post a picture?


#3

Here is a thread you might be interested in. If the tree is healthy it could survive quite a hack-back and still make it through it.


#4

You can hack all you want without killing it, but be prepared to train the new growth that comes out as it can be unruly if left alone.

You can make a tree lopsided but if you are not careful it will start to lean more and more that way and may need to be staked.


#5

Cheers guys.
I’ll try to get a picture next time I’m up there. That’s a very interesting thread you linked. When I first took the property over there were three old Ume Plumtrees. On the advice of a local farmer, I hacked them back to stumps. All of them died.
This Peachtree is a lot more vigorous. And it may not be a bad thing to get rid of it completely. I’ve got two nectarine trees and a different variety of peach in a more suitable location that should put out a big crop next year (if any of the make it past the pests).
I just thought peach trees maybe like my grape or citrus, where a large root system is a huge advantage after you’ve hacked back it back to a stump, and you can get very nice fruit.
I suppose I should leave some established branches if I want to get any peaches next year? Is there any rhyme or reason why some of the branches I pruned last year turned into moldy dead branches the next year?


#6

I just hacked back a few seedlings down to soil level maybe 10 days ago …i already see new shoots coming out.


#7

For fruit quality, is it unrealistic to keep a very small compact ball shape? Or are you just asking for disease problems, and at least a couple of stretched out arms would be better?


#8

Very therapeutic. I feel like cutting everything that irritates me down to the ground. Should I?


#9

To me you left the foundation for it to grow out again in 1 to 2 years. I wouldn’t cut it back any farther.


#10

This thing was craziness. I cut it back last year so nothing was above my head and it was in a vase shape. This year despite molls and aphids, it grew to about 15 feet high by 30 feet wide. It engulfed the neighbors persimmon tree you can see behind, and was covering a good chunk of my grapevine trellis, and overshadowing my mandarin tree. It’s a bad spot for it, but there were only so many decent soil locations when I started the garden a couple years ago.


#11

You may want to white-paint the tree to avoid sunscald, since it’s not protected by leaves anymore.


#12

Is that just normal white latex paint cut with half water or something?
I left a little flag out the top of the tree so would have some communication with the outside world. Not sure if thats a good idea.


#13

It sure isn’t a BAD idea to leave a nurse branch.


#14

Yes, it is.


#15

Ok thanks. Do you just paint all, cut wounds and all?


#16

While I have your ear, How would you recommend to cut these new trees? These are two nectarines and a Peachtree, where space is no problem. These are viewed from the Northwest, and they’re actually twice as wide as the picture shows. They’ve grown over my head, they’ve been in the ground two years now. Never been trained or trimmed since I got them.


#17

Don’t do anything right now.

This winter during the dormant season cut them back to 3-4 scaffold branches that spread out to form a full canopy. The scaffolds should be separated by at least a little distance where they originate from the trunk. There are good tutorials on how to prune peach trees. The first 2-3 yrs are devoted to shaping the tree. Then it’s about pruning a bearing tree for production and for maintaining good fruiting wood.


#18

That picture of the trunk with no leaves made my stomach turn. I have the same issue with my two peach trees, they grew huge. Two years ago I had 5 yards of mushroom compost dumped on the spot between the two trees, when one tree was about three foot tall and the other hadn’t been planted yet. Maybe that had some affect. The Elberta is blocking light from the Asian pear and attacking the elderberries. I once had a nice path between the peaches, blackberries, and elderberries, which is gone.

So, just to be clear, I can prune it now, in late summer, and everything will be okay? This goes against everything I have known about pruning, but I trust the experts in this forum more than anything else I have read.


#19

Thanks again FruitNut. What’s your opinion of the practice of doing all the pruning/training right after harvest, now? I did some major limb cuts, out of necessity, on the trunk tree you see above, this time last year, and for the most part the tree seemed OK, other than a couple of mummied small branches.


#20

You could do it now. That’s not the normal practice but better now than never.