Peach limbs sometimes make interesting shapes

I’ve been pruning peach trees lately and come across some scaffolds which look sort of interesting.

I didn’t try to bend these limbs in some weird shape, but just from regular pruning they end up that way. I’m no expert in pruning, but I’ve found for me pruning is somewhat of a dance (albeit a very slow dance) with the tree. It moves in certain directions and I respond based upon its movements.

Prune a limb so as not to let it get too low, or too high, or develop bad angles or waterspouts. This constant adjustment makes for limbs which can have a look of interesting twists. Here’s some pics I took today. Anyone else care to share some pics of their trees too?

Here’s one in which the limb started to go down too much so I had to prune it up.

Here’s one I apparently needed to go the other way, so it does a U-turn

Here’s one slightly cork screwy

Here’s one which leans way over. I have quite a few like this but they don’t seem unstable

Here’s a small one I pruned today, which would make an interesting bend, if it doesn’t get pruned off next year.


You have a good eye!


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Well, @Olpea, we should just call you the “Peach Tree Whisperer”. Nice work.

Just curious, but what is the age of the tree in those first couple pics?

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I thought fall pruning was dangerous to peaches, reducing their ability to harden off. I’m guessing you have a good reason to discard this suggestion.

Peach trees seem to have a mid of their own, and will grow in the
direction in which THEY want to grow, no matter how much coaxing
you give them.

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The trees were planted 2012, so they have gone through 5 growing seasons.


Your absolutely right of course. I don’t have a good horticultural reason for pruning in the fall, it’s strictly a labor thing.

I don’t have enough time to be able to prune in the spring. With all the spring chores I just can’t get it done, so I prune in the fall. I’d like to be done with peaches by the end of Sept. to allow more time for the trees to harden off, but I didn’t make it this year.

I used to be pretty scared to touch the trees before spring, but once I talked with a grower who is the biggest peach wholesaler in MO and he said his crews prune all winter long. He said he couldn’t get it done otherwise. So I started to get more bold about fall pruning.

I can’t say it’s never been detrimental. I’ve been doing it in my backyard for a long time and I think perhaps once it hurt the crop in 2014. It is risky to prune young peach trees in the fall. I’ve lost a few doing it, but generally it was a severe pruning job on the young trees.

It generally doesn’t get too cold here in the winter, which probably helps. Since I’ve been living in this house (16 years) we’ve had a couple winters where it got to minus 12ish for a winter low, but most of the time it gets down to about minus 5F. Historically it can get lower. I think the record low for Kansas City is -23F set in 1989. If that happens again, I’m sure it would kill all the trees, which would make me sad.

I have a friend who did a radio interview the other day. He has about 10 acres of peaches. He didn’t used to fall prune, but from the interview, it sounds like he has started. His interview is the first 10 minutes (largely talking about agritourism) but he talks a little about his peach pruning around 2:30.

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If I had that much outside assurance, I wouldn’t worry too much about it either. Years ago a commercial grower told me he always has his picking crews prune his apple trees after they are done picking- that’s when I stopped worrying much about when I pruned bearing apple trees. Now I prune them all day long for almost 7 months of the year- but peaches I try holding off until earl;y spring, at least. Can’t get to it at the Cornell recommended time after first growth but before petal fall- except in my own orchard. This year, devoid of crop at most sites, they kept growing and growing and I did prune some into very late summer.

I don’t believe actual lows are as important as the context- what states the trees are in as far as levels of dormancy. I lost a lot of plum trees last year due more to fluctuations than actual lows.

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I agree completely. From all the anecdotal stories, peach trees have quite a temperature range in which they will survive or crop. I have to assume it’s largely related to how dormant they are.

BTW, thanks for posting your pruning guide again. I’ve read it many times, but for me it needs to be read once per year as a reminder, and to clarify my focus.


In terms of tree shaping, I can paraphrase a recently popularized recommendation, “When they grow low, I go high.” Unfortunately, I’ve found the reverse to be true also, when they go high, I go low. :wink:

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Actually it is posted up there permanently in the guides section. What I did was post a link to another guide at the end of it, which is one of the best for apples and pears I’ve ever seen.

Thanks for the compliment on mine- I’ve had a lot of opportunity to develop my own system because so many trees I’ve had to deal with over the years were either badly neglected or mis-pruned. I also get to come back year after year to see the results of my work at so many sites. I’m often fascinated by how I managed to do such a poor job on a given tree, but then I remember about the elves that come back and perform there infuriating magic on my good work. There the ones that always stick tons of green fruit back on the trees after you’ve done a perfect job of thinning them. Almost as bad as squirrels!