Peach thief - human or?

I had a good crop of peaches from 4 trees this summer/fall. Nearing ripeness, I was salivating!! Until I went to pick and only one peach remained. It was hidden under and behind a bunch of leaves on one tree. Other trees were picked clean. No pits on the ground, no half eaten ones. Nothing. My trees are fairly tall (and wide) and deer could have eaten the lower ones, but not the uppers ones and not every last one. So… what creature can remove all peaches from 4 trees in different areas of the orchard??? I am thinking the two legged kind with a ladder… Even that does not make much sense though. My trees are hidden from the road, a chain is across the driveway and its a bit of a walk from where one could drive to the orchard. Its also a good bit of work to pick these. Any thoughts??

Racoons for sure. Squirrels.

I know that squirrels stole fruit from my trees and took the entire fruits when they were ripe. They also hit peaches before they were ripe, but with the unripe fruit, they’d leave them half eaten on the ground… They did wipe out everything on trees that had very few fruits. However, I can’t imagine them wiping out fully laden trees unless you had a mob of squirrels.

Raccoons can eat more than squirrels. Still, four trees worth of fruit, with no evidence left behind is a lot of fruit, even for those bandits.

How long had it been since you’d checked on the ripeness? Once the wildlife knows it’s there and getting sweet they keep returning and can eliminate quite a bit. They are a greedy bunch when they find things they like.

My wildlife nearly always leaves evidence even taking a few fruit. It’s hard for me to believe animals could strip 4 trees and leave nothing behind.

How long has it been since you saw all the fruit still in the trees?

Squirrels love peaches…maybe more so then anything else i grow. They almost always leave evidence behind of a half a chewed on peach… never dealt with raccoons. Could try a game camera or some sort of security camera system…

Dan I have five peach trees, raccoons, (raccoon) and squirrels. Some peaches they like better than others. I have found that by netting my trees they are slowed down from ruining an entire tree of fruit. It is the very large fruits, not even half eaten on the ground that upsets me the most. I have to replace netting on certain trees every day, as they are very aggressive about getting what they want. The netting does work. I’d rather replace netting during the day to get ripe fruit the next day. I also pick some of the fruit a bit under-ripe as the animals seem to like the very sweet ripened fruit first. Some take the entire fruit, some leave pits and half eaten fruit on the ground. I know how you feel, it has happened to many of us.

The entire story follows. My trees are about a 4 hour drive away from me so I visit most weekends. As it turned out, I could not get the peaches when they were at peak ripeness so I told a relative to go pick as many as he wanted. (he did not take them. 10000000% certain) He told me when he looked they were not quite ripe yet so he gave 4-5 more days. Then he went back and said they were all gone. Grass was matted down according to him. There are squirrels, though I have never seen one in the orchard. Its a trek for them, through heavy grass to get to the trees. Racoons are around, here and there though not in large numbers like they once were. Some of the branches will not hold a raccoon, and I would question seriously if they could hold a squirrel also. Branches were weighted down with peaches. It seems there should have a been a few left here and there that were deemed unsafe to grab by animals. Wouldn’t I see claw marks in the trunks from raccoons?

Two peach trees are on the very north west edge of the orchard. Another is middle south. The last is all the way east and middle-ish. Spread out by some distance.

I will move my trail cam next summer and see what happens.

Somebody stole them. Probably a neighbor within a few miles and close enough to check on the orchard once in a while.



I have a miniature peach tree that squirrels cleaned out in one day (it is small, but had a lot of peaches!). My neighbor asked me if I had a peach tree because there were half eaten peaches way up in their maple trees! In your case though, it sounds like 2 legged pests were the problem. Usually critters will leave a few half eaten ones behind, in my experience.

There was an almost identical question to this posted on GardenWeb last year and the consensus on the forum was squirrels, if I remember correctly.

The squirrels in my area actually seem to prefer taking my fruit out of our yard and leaving the pits on the other side of the fence. I wish they didn’t take any fruit, but at least they’re tidy about it (my neighbors may disagree).

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Before I started thinning down the population I had squirrels completely empty my two peach trees. They didn’t leave any thing but they did it when the peaches were still pretty green. I assume they packed them all away in a tree instead of eating them as a raccoon would. I had raccoons and possums in my peach tree this year. I live trapped them. They would leave pits around under the tree.

I wonder if squirrels can get the pits open. They’re a lot tougher than the usual acorns and nuts. If they can get at the seeds, the pits would be valuable for a winter stash.

Reading about what squirrels do to others sound nothing like the ones here. They never eat a whole fruit even when ripe, they leave them all over the yard. All has been found except one fruit. Often doing the same with cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes too. I have seen them do this with my own eyes.

squrrels here cut through black walnuts and eat the meat out if the center. They would have no problem cutting into a peach pit imo.

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Here they plant them all over my garden! I have pulled out many, acorns too!

I don’t have much trouble with oak seedlings but I have hundreds of walnut seedlings in my yard every spring. Some were no doubt buried by squirrels but I am pretty hard on the squirrels around here, most just sprout where they fell. I have a huge walnut tree in my yard, I really wish someone else had it.

There’s a couple old, standard size apple trees near my house. Most years I walk by them every few days and pick a few of the apples as they ripen. This year something beat me to it. I’m convinced whatever it was wasn’t human, because even the bad looking fruit got taken, as did the ones 30 feet off the ground.

Hi DanNy,

I wonder too…a toss up between a person or squirrels. This summer a baby squirrel tried to take over my peach trees and my blueberry bushes. My blueberry cage is well covered with fencing and doublenetting but I had to secure the bottom of the door. He had found a way to get in but when I saw him sneaking out, I fixed the problem immediately. I had my peach trees (semi-dwarf) doubled netted but that did not stop the little pest, he started shaking the trees. Fortunately, it was harvest time. I harvested majority and I was fortunate that they were nearly ripe. However, they do steal peaches and shake them even inside of the netting- but usually they leave bite marks. So my theory is that either you have a person lurking around or a family of clever squirrels. Sorry this happened to you, good luck next year…

Squirrels cleaned me out of most of my peaches and were working on my remaining apples until I put up an electric fence. That was the only way i could sucessfully keep the thieves away. I do not have young children close by so next spring the electric fence is going around the entire orchard.