Lost all peach blooms. What now?


#1

It was a valiant effort, but in the end, all the buds are dead from the three night 26 degree F trifecta. My peach is a Redhaven on unknown rootstock. I’ve had it in the ground for two seasons but it is probably at least 4 years old.

My neighbors unknown 10 year old peach put out blooms when mine did, but 60% of hers survived. Same thing happened last year too. She got fruit but I got none.

Is it possible that mine just needs a few more years to become bud cold Hardy, or is this a sign of the things to come? Is it time to switch peach trees altogether to something like Contender? I could also graft wood onto my unknown rootstock

Here’s the sad before picture.


#2

Your neighbours tree might be in a climate pocket where the temperature is a few degrees above ambient. Some varieties are also more prone to temperature bud kill, there is a research paper on this. Redhaven should be a fairly frost tolerant variety though. You can try changing rootstock, there is a research paper below discussing this. You could also try protecting your tree during the bloom time, an example would be running a sprinkler system next to the tree. Other experts will have to weigh in on this, I have never tried any frost protection methods myself.

More than likely, if you wait a few years, you will get fruit, based on the percentage of flower buds put on a tree, the chances of saving a few buds increases. I would research rootstock for your area, get one, plant it, then graft or bud your Redhaven to it. It will take time to grow, during which you could try implementing a bud saving method on your current tree to get your first fruit.

Reading Material
https://extension.psu.edu/orchard-frost-assessing-peach-bud-injury
http://extension.missouri.edu/warmund/cold-hardiness-redhaven.htm
https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/40181/research.pdf?sequence=2
http://www.fao.org/3/y7223e/y7223e0a.htm
https://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/how-to-protect-peaches-in-chilly-weather/


#3

I’ve been surprised in some years with apricots I thought had suffered total bud loss, only to find some late buds had come out and fruited


#4

As ILP mentioned, sometimes it does take a while for a tree to come into production. But if the tree you show ends up producing nothing, and your neighbor’s tree does, then something is probably wrong. Namely, your tree is probably not a Redhaven.

Some of the North Carolina peaches are supposedly bred for hardiness in blooms (i.e. Challenger, Intrepid). I don’t have a lot of experience with these peaches yet, but so far they have showed promise.


#5

I had the exact same problem with my Elberta peach. I took a multi prong approach that seems to work but I don’t know if it is from what I did or just because the tree is older and stronger. On bad years I usually get a dozen or so and on good years I have to thin it heavily. I think your best bet is to give it more time but if you tend to get carried away with things like me you can try the following.

First after researching this topic I found out that a nitrogen deficiency can make the buds weaker than they should be so make sure your nitrogen levels are adequate, I use a few cups of ammonium sulfate around the base of the tree in the spring time.

Second and this may be heresy but I let my tree grow as large as it can… I noticed that all of the peach trees in my neighborhood that do the best with frost were all over grown and neglected. After researching frost protection I have a few theories as to why this might work.

  1. A taller /bigger tree has more mass for passive radiant heating on cold nights. Orchards will plant palms with citrus for this very purpose.
  2. It is a matter of numbers the more buds on the tree the greater the chance you will have a couple that will make it through.
  3. The top buds on the tree may be a tad warmer and sometimes that is all it takes to get a few survivors, especially if you are in a frost pocket. They say 1 degree in temp can actually make a difference.
    Last clear out the grass from around the base of the tree. Dark colors like earth or mulch will absorb more sunlight during the day allowing the ground to heat up and radiate more heat at night.

All of the things I said make a micro climate around your tree to help it get a few buds to survive, but I really think just giving your tree more time will help the most.


#6

Just a thought, but if you want to run a test in parallel to waiting for your tree to age a little, you could attempt to graft a scion from your neighbor’s tree onto your tree. It might give you some insight as to whether the issue is variety or environmental.


#7

Thanks all for the responses. Firstly, I actually did try the whole Frost protection route this year. I bought a space heater and a very large tarp. unfortunately it did basically no good since my heater cut off in the night at one point (not sure how long).

My neighbor’s tree is roughly 100’ from mine, and at the same elevation. Her tree does have quite a bit more “mass” and height to it, so there could be something to that.

Also, I did fertilize last spring with a high nitrogen fertilizer.

I would love to try my hand at grafting, but I barely know much about it. I may just take this tree out and put in Contender, since that seems to be a pretty cold hardy variety.

It could be that I just need to wait a few more years. Maybe it’s a bad attitude to have, but it just seems like a bad sign that this tree has yet to successfully set one fruit yet.


#8

That’s good to hear Lois. Here in 6B we had a recent hard freeze just as my Apricots were showing color, and it appeared they were frozen out, but today I noticed a few late buds beginning to open. After 4 fruitless years, this still may be my Apricot year! Peaches didn’t seem hurt at all, but time will tell.