Nectarine pruning question

I have a Fantasia nectarine tree that’s gotten very large. So far I’ve been pruning it standard vase shape and thinning and it’s working out well. However, it’s starting to get too tall. If I chop the tops off though, this is where most of the fruiting wood is? I also don’t want to cut back to the main branches, as I did this with a peach tree and it never recovered.

1 Like

can you cut back to somewhere that still has 1-year wood and leave a 3-6 inch 1-year stub? those would then be good regrowth points


Can you show me a picture? I’m having a hard time accurately knowing what you mean.

If you have 3-4 main stems, you could cut one back every year and lower the height gradually while still getting fruit continuously.

1 Like

Wouldn’t that kill off the main trunk you cut back?

I ended up cutting about 2/3 the tree away. Some of the branches were four or 5 inches thick. So far it’s been a good tree and responded well to heavy pruning, so I’m hoping for the best. At least most of the tree is reachable without a ladder now.

yeah all I meant was, in response to your having killed a tree by cutting back too far, leaving new stubs is a defense against that. peaches are pretty bad at epicormic-type growth. so you can cut back to the highest point you still have newish wood. your picture looks good

I agree with z0r. Leaving stub cuts from year old wood will help renew the tree. That’s about all you can do at this point.

Of course it’s too late now, but I’ll mention it’s always better to train the tree earlier if you have time. That way you don’t have to resort to extremely aggressive pruning.
We prune very aggressively multiple times every year to avoid peach/nectarine trees getting too far ahead of us (too tall or too thick).

Older trees calm down a bit, as do trees with a heavy crop load, so they don’t have to be pruned quite as hard. But you still have to be careful not to let them get too tall.

When giving peach tree pruning advice, I always try to emphasize vigorous peach trees must be pruned brutally (in terms of year old wood). Once year old wood, which has grown too tall, is allowed to become two year old (because it wasn’t pruned as one year old wood) then it starts to become more and more difficult to shape the tree because now you have to cut into two year old wood.

Trying to prune two year old wood gives you the problem that it doesn’t have viable leaf buds, so you have to prune the two year old wood back to a point where there is a branch which contains some one year old wood somewhere on it. Three year old wood is even worse.

The point is that you want to try to avoid having to prune two year old wood if possible, by aggressively pruning one year old wood which is too tall. Hope that makes sense?

Here are some of our pruning pics I posted on old threads.

Here is a before and after pic on a very vigorous young peach tree. Notice how tall the wood got in one season, and how I ruthlessly hacked it back, without getting into much two year old wood. At this point in peach tree’s life, we don’t care about getting peaches off the tree. All we care about is shaping the future of a tree. Sort of like how one raises children. Think of your tree as your young child. No parent expects anything productive from their young child, all they are thinking about is shaping them so that their child has a productive and meaningful life in the future.

Here is an older tree I pruned aggressively after a season of heavy growth. Imagine if I had skipped a year of aggressive pruning. The tree would be unmanageable and require even more severe pruning to try to bring it back down. That’s the point to remember. If your peach/nect tree is a vigorous grower, you can’t even miss one season of pruning, otherwise it multiplies your problem. Generally with vigorous peach/nect trees you will have to aggressively prune at least twice a year. Again, if you miss a year of aggressive pruning, you’re sort of sunk and back in the boat of trying to get the tree down by cutting into old wood. Renewal pruning can be done, but as you can attest it is much more difficult than simply keeping the tree from getting too tall. If the peach tree is vigorous, it’s almost impossible to overprune year old wood on a peach tree.

Here is a video I posted on the forum of me pruning a peach tree. Note that the tree was pruned extensively during the season prior. In other words, the tree was already pruned in the growing season and the fall prior to the spring pruning.

Here is another couple pics regarding pruning.