Peach branch training question

Hi everyone. I need a little help with training these peach tree branches. Originally two years ago I made the mistake of purchasing a stark brothers supreme tree. Nothing against the supreme tree but it was a little older tree with a higher branch structure than I wanted. I had to keep the tree at the height it was pre-cut which was roughly a little less than my waist. I would like really low and wide peach trees. So I have tried my best to make the branch structure low and wide. last year I had to restructure the entire tree because everything was so vertical. My first question is I have three branches that are sturdy, thick branches that are still a little more vertical growing than I would like. Should I tie them down and try to make them more horizontal? Or should I cut midway down the branch and form a new branch?

Also when it comes to fruit trees is it good to cut the branch every year about 1 foot or 2 feet from last years cut so that it forms side branches all the way up the scaffolding? If you see in the picture there is a three-ish foot gap between the trunk and top scaffolding branches. Should I cut it back so that forms more side branching in that area?

1 Like

Personally it looks good to me. I would let it grow this year and maybe tie down some branches if it tries to go to vertical on you.


You could try doing some notching to encourage new branches on the main trunk to create lower laterals. I would keep tying or using weights to get the branches to go where you need, luckily peaches recover pretty fast from hard pruning.

I thought about the notching. If I want a branch it would be below the bud correct?

People do below for fruiting spurs and above for vegetative growth i know for various trees. I was more talking about painting some growth hormone on your main trunk and trying some notching with a saw for a roughish cut to try and create some vegetative shoots lower on the trunk. I think you want to do this a week or so before they bloom.

Ooooh. You’re talking about growing new scaffolds on the lower part of the trunk. I’m really just curious what would happen if I cut the whole top of the tree off? Would it develop new scaffolding branches down below. I hate to start all over but if it would work I might do it.

More than likely I’m just going to cut back a little bit and try to bend the branches down. Would there be any harm in doing this?

You know it would most likely regrow new branches but i would say definitely don’t do it in case it kills the tree. I have never sawed a tree off with a decent amount of trunk left and had it not come back to life but its not that bad and i think even if you don’t get a good branch this year next year you could get some lowers and then you would have a more manageable peach tree. My success is around half but was less than that around 1/3 on my peach tree that was 5 years old.


I feel your frustration. We bought 3 Red Haven trees from our local Kroger and 3 Cherries from a farm store. The peach trees were 3 ft tall with a 1/2 in trunk.

So much easier when you can look at a dozen trees and pick some with good structure. All we did was cut out the central leader and a few crowded scaffolds. To get the outward growth, we trimmed to an outward facing bud. That “kinda” worked but by the next year we had tie downs to further shape the trees. We now have all three trees 8 ft tall with very open centers. This will be the fourth growth year. My regrets are; 1) how I forked the scaffolds and 2) didn’t summer prune to first two years to keep the water shoots out. Forking scaffolds can be tricky, “you don’t always get what you want”. Just cutting below a bud cluster will net a very tight “V” crotch. But if you trim down further you can pick two off set small branches and get a nice wide crotch. Water shoots were left because I read, only trim when dormant early in the year. Now I get them out as soon as the poke out. It’s nice to look at them before spring growing and see the center wide open with NO water shoots

My advice is to keep experimenting with this tree. Start a new peach tree, But look for local sourced small trees as above. They grow so fast you haven’t lost much time.

I don’t see anything wrong with your tree. Yeah it’s a little higher than I start my scaffolds, but still very manageable to be able to keep the tree low and wide. You are on the right track tying the branches down to keep them low.

The bigger issue is the largest scaffold you have. It’s pretty large in reference to the trunk. This tends to keep the scaffold from forming a collar at its base. As far as I can tell from the pics, that scaffold hasn’t formed a collar. That can be problematic in that scaffolds (or large branches) which don’t form a collar a more susceptible to breakage under heavy loads.

I wouldn’t necessary lop of the big scaffold because of that, just mentioning it for future pruning. Always choose scaffolds as small as possible in reference to the trunk size (I know you may not have had a choice in this tree.) It’s not a big deal if you choose to leave the big scaffold. It may eventually break, but you can cut the split out with a chain saw and still have half a producing peach tree. It will likely keep producing from half a tree for quite a while. When the other half fizzles out, just put in a new one. Peach trees are disposable.

If you have some live buds lower on the trunk, you could try notching. As long as the buds are alive, notching works pretty good on peaches. Cut a good notch above the bud and notch it again, if the bark heals.

If the bud is already dead, notching won’t help.

If you haven’t seen it, here are a couple good videos on pruning peach trees.


Thanks Richard for the input.

Paddy. Thanks for mentioning the water sprouts. I will definitely keep on top of them. Last year I cut the tree slightly aggressive and ended up with a ton of shoots. I didn’t really trim them off throughout the summer and I felt like it was a lot of wasted energy. I will keep the tree in check better this summer.

1 Like

Oplea. I had no idea about the branch collar issue. Are you talking about the scaffolding branches with the white tie around them? Or the individual one that is already tied down? The branches with the white tie are actually three scaffolding branches that come straight off the tree. I will try to send another picture that is a little closer view. I already have quite a few scaffolding branches on the tree but I was hoping to eliminate a few of them next year depending on how they grow. If you feel like these three branches are going to be problematic in the future should I eliminate it to one branch this year? Or take them all out and hope that something else grows in that area. I definitely don’t want a branch breaking on me in the future. I didn’t think about it but if there are three branches coming off one spot that would definitely be too much weight in the future. On that side of the tree I have purposely spaced the tree far enough from the fence to allow a large area to grow into. When I first saw the branch I was just happy that I got three branches off one area. LOL quantity over quality. Haha.

1 Like

Is this what you were referring to?

In your last picture, where your index finger is in the picture (but not your ring finger) the scaffold on the left doesn’t look like it has a collar. Pictures can be deceiving, but it doesn’t look like it has a collar.

Peach limbs which don’t develop a collar are the must susc. to limb breakage. We prune those larger shoots off the trunk early for that reason.

As far as I can tell from the photos, the branch with the string is fine. If you want to cut the one with no collar, you can probably still make a nice three scaffold tree.

Also remember to try not start you scaffolds at the same height on the trunk, like your photo shows. Doing that tends to choke off too much growth above where the scaffolds meet on the trunk. In other words, if two scaffolds are growing at the same height on the trunk, they will take too much energy from the trunk. Anything growing on the trunk above the two scaffolds will generally have reduced vigor in the long run.


Olpea do you think the two scaffolds being at the same spot (in the first photo above is finger) is why his trunk gets smaller and then larger above the scaffolds? That is pretty unusual.

You’re right, that is unusual. Most of the time when there are two scaffolds located at the same height on the trunk, the trunk is considerably smaller after that. Then any scaffolds after that don’t grow as well. It’s not always the case, as in the above photos, but it’s happened often enough for me that we don’t allow two scaffolds to remain at the same height on the trunk.

We try to keep about a couple inches in height between scaffolds when selecting them. This is for 3 scaffold peach trees (ideal number of scaffolds for vigorous peach trees in low density plantings).

1 Like

I’ve done that with peach in particular. It will always turn back up after the part that is tied down. However, it typically leaves a prune-able lateral you can work with.

Well dang. Sounds like this peach tree is destined for the chipper. :weary:.

I am at work today. When I get home tonight I will definitely look at the branch with no collar. I have trimmed back as many of the extra scaffolding branches as I could. I will take pictures of it and have you give me suggestions if there’s anything else different to do. The branch with no collar I will just keep and make sure that it always has a light load on it. I will just thin it extra good in the spring And keep it trimmed back more than the others. This peach tree is a starking delicious. I had one peach off of it last year and it was the most amazing peach I’ve ever had in my life. It was so good! So I am going to do everything I can to keep this tree.

Richard mentioned a hormone to put on the trunk and try and grow a new scaffolding branch below. Is there a specific type of hormone ? I have a growth hormone for rooting would that work? Maybe I could try this year and grow another scaffolding branch below that one. If not then I will just stick with what I have.

1 Like

Its not even close to over for the tree do not worry, Peaches take to training and chopping pretty well. Its just unique. Olpea will have pruning suggestions and i would listen to him.
People use Benzyl Amino Purine and cytokine or just kelp or a compost tea

Thanks for the reply. I will not them and look into the hormone.