Peach/nectarine fruit thinning

Hi, I planted ~80 peach and nectarines last year, bare root. If any of them get fruit this year, should I pull them all off long before they get ripe? Same with next year?

I’ve already pruned and sprayed for PLC this year.

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On your scale, removing fruit would probably be worth it. When you can allow crop depends on rate of growth the previous year- sometimes a tree can afford to start bearing fruit as soon as its second year of establishment after transplant. Your soil looks rich and the berms should help.

At any rate, I’d remove fruit the first season, but with your long growing season, that might be enough to begin light production. I’m guessing you are in CA in an interior valley, so someone who is as competent a grower as you are and grows trees in full sun in your region would be a better supplier of advice than me- or even Olpea (a small commercial peach grower in KS). I’m in S. NY.

UC Davis would presumably know the standard routine of growers in CA, if that is your state. At any rate, I’m sure you are in the west and enjoy a long growing season.


I only have a half a dozen peaches and nectarines but thinning to 6” spacing takes forever doing it fruit by fruit by hand to pop them off at about pinky fingernail stage.

Even then, I usually do a second thin in June because I didn’t do enough.

Any suggestions on how to speed up or make the process easier?

Flower stage instead of fruit stage?

Different for apples? I’m using scissors to cut hundreds off.

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Thinning peaches is a pain. No easy way that I know of. No chemical thinners.

There is some use of a club to knock them off wholesale at an early stage. Some use of mechanical aids. Sort of like a giant whirling dervish.

I’ve shaken some off at the right stage. But mostly it’s several hand thinnings the slow tedious way.

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If you aren’t selectively thinning, shaking can be fine, you just have to wait until the fruit is heavy enough.

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I guess really what I’m asking is, should I even allow any fruit to mature at all this year? Or should I literally thin out every single one. And let the energy focus on growing or rooting or whatever.

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It partly depends on whether your trees are for commercial or home use. If for home use, leaving a few fruit won’t hurt the trees growth. The key is not leaving too many fruit. Like half a dozen per second year tree. If for commercial use, any fruit on a small tree is more trouble than it’s worth. So thin them all off.

Your trees don’t look very big. So thinning off everything but a few fruit to eat would be my plan.

Peaches do grow fast. A few fruit won’t hurt their growth at all.


Hell, if you aren’t in a hurry to make as much money as possible, you can always crop a few of your trees and leave the rest to establish at top speed. Even very young peach trees can bear some fruit without being excessively stunted and irrigated trees in full sun as nicely branched as yours should certainly be in production the season after the coming one it they grow with the vigor they are capable of, that is with good drainage, good soil and plenty of N.

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Yes, thinning is a pain if you look at the entire tree covered in blossoms. Olpea would know better but I’d bet there are 10 times the blooms you need.

I like to look at from two points of view; setting the right load for this year and opening up the tree for next years fruit wood to grow this year. So really, each season we grow fruit and next years fruit wood.

For easy math, let say you want to have 300 peaches on a tree and you have 3 scaffolds. That 100 peaches per scaffold. Then you remove all but 50 fruit woods on that scaffold so you can have two peaches per fruit wood.

I start by counting one scaffold fruit woods, I’m always surprised just how many there are. I remove the large aggressive water shoots I missed during summer pruning. Then I remove anemic looking small shoots, shoots aiming sharply down.

After last chance of a hard frost, mid May here.
Recount if your are worried you are taking off to much. Then I remove fruit woods packed to close together to space out the fruit woods. lastly shorten/stiffen the “chosen” fruit woods to have your well spaced peaches.

Thinning is mostly done, or at least not much big questions what to leave. Your are just leaving the few nicest blooms per fruit wood.

Thinning by well thought out Pruning. Don’t let those cute little flowers give you a guilt trip. You know these water shoots have to go, the hanger downers have to go, etc.


I’m a bit late responding to this thread. We crop new peach trees as soon as they fruit in our orchard. Apples are different and can gain from delayed cropping sometimes, but even that is changing.

Looking at the size of your trees, and that they are irrigated, and that lush grass, I see no reason to delay fruiting in terms of tree vigor. Your peach trees look to me like they will grow rapidly all summer.

One caveat is that sometimes there aren’t enough peaches on a new block of trees to justify spraying insecticide/fungicide in my area. If there are just a few fruit per tree, it doesn’t justify running an airblast up and down those rows.

Another thing to consider is that you might consider training those trees soon. That will take off more fruit. Some growers wait to prune after the peach tree develops a trashy center. In that case you can wait a while longer.

I’m not sure what type of training system you plan to use. We use a standard 3 scaffold vase system, and by the time our trees are the size of yours in the pic, we have already pruned out some of the low trash, as well as larger branches, which won’t form collars, double leaders, etc.