Olpea please explain

I have had peaches for 10-11 years, Black Boy only for four years. My five trees were loaded with blossoms this spring, a handful are still hanging on. Was our cool spring so devastating as to have such crop failure? I should have had baskets of peaches this year. This being my last summer here I was so looking forward to a Mrs. G’s fresh peach. I also ha e Elberta, Early crawford, a pickling unknown cultivar and Black Boy. There might be a few on Early jCrawford but no vigor. Maybe the trees are just too old! No excuse for Blackboy!


Absolutely - I blame the weather for the sparseness of my fruit set here

Mrs. G.,
May I join you in asking Mark, please? It is about our weird peach year. I have hundreds and hundreads of peaches set. Sadly, they set on wrong branches. Most of my peaches set on tiny twigs that cannot hold a peach heavier than couple of oz.without breaking. Not many peaches on sturdy branches at all.

I spent these past two evenings thning off those peaches. Worse, with these many fruit set, there are not many leaves at all. Not sure what happened.

We do need @Olpea and others with experience to give us some clues.

Dang! I feel what you gals are going through! Earlier this season I knew we had a lot of trees which had a lot of shoots which didn’t have fruit, so I went through a lot of rows cutting that stuff out.

Then the last few weeks, my son and I have been through those rows again and on some varieties, see lots of shoots I left with peaches which never developed. In other words, more blank shoots on trees I’ve already been through. Akkk. Enough to more than frustrate an old man!

Seriously, I’m really finding variety is a huge influence on the whole thing. I see varieties year after year which are heavy laden and we dread thinning. Then there are varieties which I wonder if I’ll ever get a taste.

Today I finally gave up on a Honey Royal tree which was about a 4" trunk and never produced a fruit. I thought this year was the year, with lots of blooms. But not a one set with our challenging spring weather, so I cut it down today, after several years of taking care of it and never tasting a fruit. So it goes with a commercial peach grower. I’ve learned to be cruel when it comes to my trees.

At the same time, we spend way too much time thinning heavy varieties. Heavy setters like Madison, Gloria, Veteran, Contender, Redhaven, and some others are so heavy we pull peaches off by the handfuls.

The amount of crop load is so variety dependent here, it’s almost shocking.


Mrs. G,

I forgot to mention. I don’t think 11 year trees are too old. They do start to slow down but this seems to be somewhat affected by variety too. So long as the tree keeps putting out new wood of a decent length and not too much blind wood, I think the tree shouldn’t be retired.


I also get a lot of peaches on those short shoots (tiny twigs). Normally we rip those off. But on trees which don’t set much, we leave those peaches on. If a tree doesn’t have many peaches on it, we leave every peach on, unless it doesn’t have any leaves in front of it, or the peach has some insect damage.

Then we try to keep the tree open and vigorous with pruning (and fertilizer, if needed). Many times those little short shoots with a peach on them, will start growing at the end and produce a new shoot out of the end, which will feed the little peach. Peaches on those little shoots won’t win at the fair, but they are generally decent peaches if they are open to sunlight and not in the center of the tree, and the tree doesn’t have a lot of peaches.


I think some of the low amount of peaches, and a lot setting on small wood, was a lack of growth last year.
I’m going to feed mine well this year.
I’m bummed because I had 3 intentional crosses growing and all three died. One was in ground, 2 in containers. It was a strange year, i can’t figure out why they died? My trees all set heavy except for one. But i think i know why. It had a very heavy load last year and hardly had any new wood. I think the heavy load strained the tree and it took time to recover, thus a low amount of new wood. The new wood that did grow set fruit.

I just finished thinning TWO peach trees and it took me many hours. How did you thin your hundred of trees?

Those tiny twigs are really small. Worse there are no leaves near them. I just took all peaches off them. The thicker, sturdier branches don’t have many peaches on. On PF24C alone, I must have thinned thousands from those twings. Lasy year, I thought I thinned well. One of its big branch broke. So I am very cautious this year.

I think I need to put more urea. How much should I feed this 8 years old tree ? The tree does not look very vigorous.


I think a lot of those would drop naturally if you let them go

In my experience, peaches do not drop enough to make a dent. I prefer tninning now to save energy for the trees to produce bigger fruit and more leaves!!!

The kind of fruit that appropriately drops fruit for me is Euro pears. I don’t really need to thin my Harrow Sweet, Blake Pride, Fontande de Moulin-lille or Magness. They drop to one or two per cluster as they see fit. Save me time.

Plums also self thin quite a bit but some varieties, I still need to thin.

Apples have June drop but I thin early. I think early thinning helps apple trees. My apple trees don’t have much June drop at all.

The worst fruit is A pears. They produce too many fruit. Each cluster can carry 5-10 fruits. So much energy of a tree spent on carrying those fruit.

After several years of thinning early, I feel it is a way to go for me. Good for the trees and fewer drops (after bagging).

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Thanks Olpea!. I also noticed a lot of buds that were brown, as well as flowers that just turned brown and died. I have never seen it this bad. Between the cold spring and the endless rain and wind for the past week during prime pollination time, I really got washed out . I WISH I had the peaches Tippy had on the ground! Thanks for all of your help! :peach:

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Tippy, We still aren’t done thinning yet. Have quite a lot to do. We have everything through Redhaven thinned, and are working on stuff later than that right now. I get a little anxious even thinking about it. Some of the varieties which are heavy setters, we thin regardless of when they fruit because as you point out, they won’t grow much leaves if they are choked with fruit. Most of the stuff we are thinning now is about the size of a pecan, so it’s pretty big to be thinning.

We started thinning a little later this year, just to be able to identify the stuff which doesn’t get any bigger than a dime and then stops growing aborts. It makes the thinning window that much tighter, but since we lost a lot of fruit to the frosts, I didn’t want to thin off anything prematurely and then have some of the peaches we left on, go ahead and abort.

It’s a little faster to thin later (even though fruit size isn’t as big) since some of the peaches have already aborted, there is less fruit and the fruit is so big, we can grab it by handfuls and tear it off.

We also have to keep trees in a certain confined space (no more than an 18’ diameter canopy, since we don’t want the trees growing into each other, and nothing more than 8’ tall) so we take loppers and cut a lot of fruit off that way too. Still, I know I’ve left too much fruit on some of the trees, while some of the ones which were thinned too much by the frosts have too little fruit. Nectarines did horrible this year. Honey Royale was blank, as I mentioned. So was Summer Beaut, Nectafest. Fantasia was nearly blank. I think I’m going to finish cutting down all those nects this year. That will leave me with one nectarine, Silver Gem.

It’s been my experience that even thinning later still gives good sized peaches on anything in the Redhaven season or later.

I’m also trying something different this year with flat peaches. We have a real problem with TangOs splitting on the bottom side (TangOs II is even worse) so we are going to thin those trees last in hopes they won’t grow so fast to split.

I have to admit something here. I’m not very scientific when it comes to putting urea down for individual trees. Generally I’m only fertilizing a few select trees at a time (young trees and some older trees of certain varieties) so I put it down by hand. I’m looking for a certain response, so for a big peach tree I throw down about 8 handfuls of urea, under the canopy before a rain. About 3 or 4 handfuls for a young tree.

You’re going to have some nice peaches there. I love watching the size of peaches jump after you get a tree like the one in your picture thinned. The peaches almost seem to jump in size overnight. It’s like the tree breathes a sigh of relief to get most of those peaches off.

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Mrs. G,

That is such a bummer! I think sometimes those frost charts don’t match what happens in our orchards. There are so many variables involved (like you say wind, endless rain - along with varying periods of cold). I was really worried about this spring, so I wanted to give the trees every advantage I could (I knew we lost some fruit buds over winter when it got down to -9F on two different occasions) so I sprayed copper twice to try to prevent ice nucleation. I didn’t like putting that much copper on, and probably won’t again, but it may have helped get through our really rough spring here. It seemed like we were all locked in a cold weather pattern here in the Midwest.

I’ve got it. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t! you are so right about the charts, I use my weather app, checking on temps and rain. Weather reports are fake news, especially when it comes to late Frosts!


Weather is very site specific. Your topography can very much effect
the impact frosts and freezing temps have on your trees.

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