Peach Summer pruning in 5b

I had nearly no fruit set this year so it was much easier to prune this spring. I think @Olpea would think I pruned them well! The goal was “farm” new fruit wood for next year.

Boy did I get new wood. I always considered summer pruning to be opening up the center by taking out water shoots. But this is different this time around. All the new growth is really dense and getting pretty tall. The center is mostly open but I’ll clear some out. But the part that is a mystery is the 20 inch to 36 inch tall top growth. I could selectively remove the tallest, but that would still leave hundreds of 24"+ packed in there. Do I remove some? Head some? I’m guessing they will continue to grow!

I can prune next spring as normal and remove 1/2. I’m just concerned all the blossoms with be at the top.

After pruning

As of June 22

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We are pruning that stuff now. You can just rip out most of the green uprights. We are desperate to clear out the flush of upright foliage.There is still plenty of growing season, so it will all grow back, plus some.

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@Olpea This is the Frost peach with only two fruits this year. It was planted last year from a pot (basically taken out of pot and dropped into the hole) we got over dozen fruits last year. I headed the central leader yesterday, appreciate any advice on further pruning.

Before heading:

After Heading:

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That’s a good job heading. And the tree is a nice vase shape started. The problem is that your fence isn’t conducive to allowing a vase shape. So anything pointed toward the fence is going to be a problem.

I’d probably recommend some kind of espalier. Maybe train it with two scaffolds running in opposite directions parallel with the fence, and a third scaffold running perpendicular with the fence running away from the fence.

I think you can use the scaffolds you have now, just prune them in the directions you want them to go.

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Olpea,

As always, thanks for taking time during your busy peach season.

Bud formation, fruits.

  1. will a dense canopy produce less buds per unit of length of “fruit wood”? Will they be more likely to bud at the ends? Is sun light on the shoot a factor?

  2. My understanding fruit buds are selected by approx mid July. If yes, then that leaves me 3 weeks. Any growth after this time will not produce fruit buds

I will start with all the tallest and most dominant. I know I have far more fruit wood than I will need to produce a nice crop.

If I have a 4 scaffold tree, and target for 300 peaches/tree. That is 75 peaches per scaffold.
That would be 2 peaches per fruit wood = 37 fruit woods
Or 3 peaches per fruit wood =just 25 fruit woods per scaffold. I have way more than that!

Thanks again and I hope you have good year.

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Love the June 22 picture. Such a pretty tree. Olpea would hire you as a pruner in a second I bet.
I can’t get my peach trees to look like that. I had a tree that looked like that but it died a couple of years ago.

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Sun light on the shoot is a factor. More shaded shoots produce less fruit buds. But, the biggest reason to summer prune is because if the shoots are too shaded, they will die. The tree will simply abort the shoot, if it’s too shaded. Then what happens is the tree will get dead zones down low, which effectively moves the fruiting zone higher.

I’m not sure what you mean by “bud at the ends”. Peaches set fruit buds all up and down the shoots of current season growth, which next year we call one year old wood. They don’t set fruit buds on the ends like some apples and pears. In fact, most of the time, when a peach shoot sets terminal buds on the end of the shoot, none of the buds at the end are fruit buds. They are generally leaf buds.

That’s true in a manner of speaking. Peaches will continue to set fruit buds after mid July, but it is recommended to have summer pruning done by mid July. If peaches are pruned heavily after this, then the new flush of growth will tend to form significantly less fruit buds.

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@Olpea thank you. The scaffold towards the fence has the couple of fruits and I’d like to keep them for this year. I cleared some of the “shading” branches. This is how the tree looks now, guess I removed a ton of foliage it made this year. Should I fertilize it so that it can make some foliage/branches and make good of 2 months of summer here in wet PNW. My goal is to see if we can get a dozen or so fruits next year.

I think that’s a fine job pruning the upright growth out of that tree.

In terms of fertilization, it’s generally used with commercial growers to get the trees to size as quickly as possible. Size generally = more fruit. But that is a pretty small tree, so I wouldn’t expect much.

We generally get a tithe of fruit the third year. Better the fourth year. By the fifth year we are looking at close to maturity yields.

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I’ve seen a grower I know summer prune small trees essentially for that reason.
An orchard I used to work at started summer pruning Rich Mays because they started fertilizing their fruit trees (for some reason my old boss made it through a degree in fruit production without it sinking in that fruit trees require fertilizer applications…especially Cresthaven)…and drumroll…I know this is gonna be a shocker (sarcasm intended because I think a lot of people here already know this) the Rich Mays took off like a rocket. Shocker right?
I guess summer pruning for size control comes back around to encouraging lower shoots to not die…

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That’s true some peach varieties tend to struggle more than others with vigor, especially as they age. In terms of the amount of N to give peach trees, it’s probably best just to observe the growth/vigor.

Sometimes it’s easy to give mature peach trees too much N, then it’s prune, prune, prune to try to keep trees at a pedestrian height. On years where there is little or no fruit, we don’t give mature peach trees any N at all.

Not an issue in warm western climes, but here, in the northeast there are many years where the crop is on less vigorous shoots below much of the canopies shade- the more robust buds are more vulnerable to freeze kill, perhaps because they contain more water even relative to size. We had one big freeze dip in Feb and it seems to have resulted in this being the case this year, at least in my own orchard- in areas within 30 miles from me the consequences varied greatly with some nearby orchards completely frozen out of stone-fruit and ones with more big water influence unaffected and looking forward to a possible banner harvest. Even with summer pruning of my trees, the fruit itself is mostly in the shade and at first glance the crops look deficient. At least thinning wasn’t as arduous as usual… although the time saved on that was sucked up by a very heavy apple set.

The point is that you shouldn’t only leave the best, upright, but moderately vigorous shoots on the trees you summer prune- focus on very vigorous upright growth but leave weak small wood as well and when the survival of flowers is in doubt, wait until bloom before doing your first spring prune, and even then, leave some weak wood in case the ovules froze, or at least check the ovules and make sure there is no browning.

I would only be focusing on branch spreading and cutting out the most vigorous uprights of this small but healthy tree. The main issue right now is getting it up to size. What side is the wall on?- the tree might do best if trained right to the top of the fence if it throws a lot of shade.

The tree is facing west.

Hopefully you aren’t where there’s too much coastal influence, otherwise that eastern exposure might prove particularly helpful- but I don’t know much about growing fruit in your conditions. It is the eastern sun that hits the trees first and when you want dew or rain to evaporate it is especially helpful. Here I worry about it for plums… not so much for peaches- but I control brown rot with a synthetic spray.

We have typical PNW wet weather, although given my yard is at 800ft elevation we run a couple of degree cooler from Willamette valley floor. Interestingly this peach hasn’t got PLC it was planted during wet spring of 2022 could be the nursery had already sprayed it with copper. But it didnt get PLC this year since I didn’t know that I had to spray copper. Bacterial spot is an issue in my yard.

@Olpea After I removed the upward growth, the tree is now sprouting new growth in the lower branches. Based on what I have read on this forum I think it’s because of the sunlight can reach those spots. I am in Portland, Oregon and we have probably a month and half of warm/hot weather left. Do you think those tiny growth can get big and survive the winter?


they will survive just fine. If you want/need those branches, you need to bend them over with wire so they won’t shoot straight up. Wait until it’s 6 inches long. Then wrap a wire around the scaffold twice. bend the wire to about 45 degree and lay it on top of you little shoot.

I had a bit of blind wood and I did some major cutting back. Also most nothing was left. Two weeks later, I had shoots all up and down the scaffold! I removed some and kept some

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I did some research, the summer prune is to control the tree’s vigor, to promote flower buds to form. This includes open up the canopy to let sun to reach each leaf, bend down the vigorous branches to downward or more level to redirect the growth hormones, or cut some branches off. However, if taking the cutting the branches off approach to rebalance the growth hormones, care has to be in place so that the cut will not promote more new branches’ growth. It is advised that not to cut the vigorous branches off completely, instead, leave a short or long stump,depends on branches’ size and growth stages. The early the new branches grow into hardwood, the earlier the next year’s flower form. The success summer prune should result in developing of next year’s flower buds. Peach in my backyard is in the transformation from semi green wood to hardwood. It should be able to be bended or redirected in a week or two.

@IL847 what is considered as vigorous and upright shoot? water sprout like shoots that goes straight is easy but others how to identify. Can you post link to picture on the web

Sorry web reseach “paper”, no links. If you can properly handle upright , and thick branches, that is most what you need to do in summer prune.