Peach thinning details

My 2nd year Rising Star peach had lots of blooms, but only set a few fruit… just finding a single peach or two on the various shoots here and there. I was planning on thinning it pretty heavy since this is it’s first year to bloom and fruit, so no big deal. It seemed to thin itself a little more than I would have, but I will be happy just to get to try a few of those. Perhaps they will get extra big and no critters or other pest will get to them before I do (right dreaming). I am going to bag some and see if that helps.

My other two older trees are loaded with fruit.

My next 3 nights are supposed to be somewhere between 35-39 degrees per local stations so hopefully that will not hurt. Going to cover my Fig, and bring my tomato starts in the garage just to make sure they are safe.

The peaches on my Reliance ? many are in the 3/4" size now and I have started thinning it. Worked on it some today on my lunch hour.

It it a excessive fruiter… I mean one little 12" shoot will have 14 peaches on it. They come out in all directions, up, down, side ways, doubles, triples, I have even seen a few peaches on it that were (double peaches)… you know like Siamese twins, joined at the hip, but with two tips.

Today as I was thinning I was wondering if there are any advantages to exactly how you thin ???

For example if you have a 12" long shoot and you are thinning to 1 every 12 inches…

Is it better to leave a nice one near the tip, or nearer to the base of the shoot ? or perhaps just leave one in the middle ? or just which ever little peach looks the best on that shoot ?

Also… is it better to leave one that is pointing up (perhaps getting more sun) than one pointing down getting more shade.

Are there any fine tuning tips to peach thinning that I need to know ?

Last year I thinned to 5-6" after watching a DW Nursery video that suggested that… and well after I thinned, hard frost, lost all my peaches :frowning:

I have heard from some here to go more like 8-12" to get larger better quality fruit… going to try that this year, and perhaps this time I will actually get to eat some of them.

On a small shoot, say 12-14 inch… it seems to me like it might be better to leave one near the base, rather than one near the tip. Lower on the shoot just seems like a safer place to be to me.

What do you all recommend ?




I would leave 2 toward the middle facing in opposite directions if possible. I always leave too many…but have noticed that the ones toward the middle tend to grow to maturity the best. The ones near the tip never do as well and always seem to be the ones with the most insect damage.


Thank you @mainorchard

After work… I put down fresh mulch on my food forest bed… got about 1/2 of it done…

May thin more on the peaches tomorrow.


I have all of the same questions!

Thinning is a continual process, because the tree doesn’t set fruit all at once. I thin my trees every couple of days for weeks, until fruit stops forming. I always miss some things and regret not thinning enough.


I always leave extra peaches for the bugs. I inevitably miss PC or other damage. Later on when I notice the damage…I pick them off and I’m happy that I left 1 or 2 extra fruitlets on this branches. I usually do my first thinning when the largest fruitlets are nickel sized.

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My peaches are 3/4 inch long now… some longer.

All blooms are spent and either have small fruit set… or just spent dried up blooms.

I thin once… there will be no more fruit set.

Perhaps some peach trees on some locations set fruit over a longer period… but that is not the case for me.

When I have lots of 3/4 inch fruit on… the rest are done.


So many variables.
I’d ask the nearest local commercial Peach growers for thinning advice.

I was wondering about that today as I was thinning. @Olpea , @alan , others, do you agree with @maineorchard comment ? Besides weight issue is it best to leave or remove peaches closest to the tip?

I leave the biggest fruit. Often that’s the tip fruit. I don’t think position matters. I’ve not noticed a difference.

On a 12 inch branch I leave one fruit. But it does matter how far apart the branches are. I usually start thinning by pruning out excess wood. Pruning is a lot easier than thinning.

I can’t ever remember thinking I over thinned a tree. But I’ve often thought I left too much.

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True, but don’t agonize over it, if the fruit is in a well lit spot who cares if when it’s ripe it weighs a couple ounces more. To me, the trick is to get through thinning as quickly as possible- as long as the tree is open (summer prune as needed, that takes very little time and isn’t tedious like thinning) the fruit will be great if you get the thinning done reasonably well.

What I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that as long as you finish thinning fruit about 3 weeks before its ripe, you will get almost the same sugar benefit, just less size.

That’s one of the most important things I have ever learned about managing orchards right there, because I never have the time to do all the thinning on time.

The other thing is if you don’t have time to do every tree in a timely manner, you can reduce it to a single scaffold, especially if the goal is to get apples to bear the following year. You need to thin early to accomplish that. Having a single scaffold on a tree heavy laden with fruit is sometimes enough.


In a heavy crop year, we clean out all the peaches in the crotch angle first. Those peaches grow into the shoots and get damaged easily when picked.

Next, we thin are any doubles (Siamese twins), catfaced or otherwise damaged fruit.

Then we thin off one of any pairs of twins. Twins are where there are two peaches at one node. Sometimes there will be three at one node. More than one peaches at a node results in smaller peaches, so we thin those nodes down to one peach per node.

We also try to keep some distance between the fruit. Just like multiple peaches at one node produce smaller fruit, peaches too close together also produce smaller fruit.

We try to leave the biggest fruit, and thin the smaller fruit, since the bigger fruit typically have a larger cell count.

We also try to avoid peaches right at the tip, if possible. Peaches are mostly fed from the top down, so peaches at the very tip typically aren’t as large.

For an 18" shoot, we would ideally leave one maybe 4" from the tip, and 4" from the base. In good years we don’t grow any fruit on shoots less than 8" long.

I also prefer to remove the peaches from the top of the shoot and leave the ones on the bottom. Seems like birds will damage the fruit on top of the shoot slightly more than fruit on the bottom, since fruit on the top has easier access for birds. But this rule is pretty low on the priority list.

In lean years, we grow peaches on short shoots. We also keep doubles and just break off one of the Siamese twins. One of the twins can be carefully broken off early on. It will heal and produce a good peach, but will look slightly different than other peaches. We also keep peaches in crotch angles in lean years.


What is the peach production situation at your farm at present time, please?

I do not have a single peach or nectarine on inground trees this year.

Tomorrow night temp will be as low as 37 F!!

In the end, it appears we have maybe 20% of a full crop this year. It’s really hard to judge because the trees because fruit is hidden. A week or so ago, I thought we had about 10%, but my hired man who has worked for me almost 5 years, thought we had about 30%. Typically he is better at estimating fruit production than me, but I think his 30% is overly optimistic this time. That’s why I’m saying about 20%

It’s really hard to estimate on a larger number of trees when many trees have zero, some have full crops, and some with different levels of partial crops.


That’s stinky. I’m sure sorry about that. I know you work very hard every year to get stone fruit. You at least have other fruits which made it, right?

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Hope you get 30% more production.

I have a decent amount if apples, pears and Euro plums. All good. Thank you.

Thank you. Being a retired accountant, details are important. Our peach trees, now 3 years old, have an abundance of peaches. I read that 80 percent fall …I assumed naturally. Boy, was I wrong. Yesterday, 2 branches on 2 different trees broke. So I invited some neighborhood kids to come over and take everything they could handle (I read that even 3 inch diameter peaches can be “saved” if you put them in paper bags and leave a couple weeks in a cool space?). They took home two buckets (Home Depot orange Home buckets) just from one tree (Loring Peach). I also placed “crutches” (1" PVC conduit) under six other branches that were bowed to the ground. SO now I am learning that we should manually thin peaches. Two of our peach trees have hundred of babies, but they are only 1-1.5 inches in diameter so there is not too much weight…YET. Today I will try to pick an additional 50-60 peaches. I appreciate the peaches, but taking care of them sure is different from apples and cherries >(our other trees). Any other details on THINNING PEACHES would be greatly appreciated. By the way, we are near Annapolis, Maryland.

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If it truly is a Loring peach tree, it would be very very early to get good peaches. Even ripening in a paper bag, the peaches won’t have much sugar. They may be used to make cobblers or jam, after they counter ripen, but even then, it may be “iffy”. I’d estimate Maryland isn’t picking Redhaven yet, and Loring is 3 weeks behind Redhaven.

If the peaches look close to ready, it’s probably not a Loring peach tree (Fruit trees frequently get mislabeled, depending on where they are purchased.)

Even now, it’s probably best to go ahead and thin your peaches. You won’t get a big boost in size thinning this late, but you will get some boost. The big advantage you will receive thinning this late is that your fruits will be sweeter, and you won’t break branches.

As you’ve noticed, relying on “June drop” never drops enough to produce good quality remaining fruit. Peaches require early thinning to produce the largest high quality fruit.

We thin somewhere around 1 peach per 10" of branch space. That’s a pretty heavy load. Our actual rule is one peach per 12" of branch space, but if the branch is over 12", we leave 2 peaches, unless it’s over 24" in length, then we leave 3 peaches. So it probably averages something like one peach per 10" of branch space.

As we are thinning trees, we occasionally count the number of peaches on a mature tree. A mature, fully branched tree doesn’t get to grow more than 300 peaches (unless they are donut peaches). For early varieties 250 peaches per tree is the max. Every time we have tried to cheat this number, it comes back to bite us. Fruit is either too small, and/or not as sweet as it should be.


Thank you. Our Red Haven is actually larger than the Loring (photos were taken July 7th). The Red Haven was planted in March 2022, so maybe the growth is residual from the original grower wherever Home Depot gets its fruit trees. I will use this year as a learning experience. By the way, I am impressed by the single Harvester Peach that we planted this year. Massive peaches.


This past weekend (July 15-16), we thinned SIX or SEVEN buckets of peaches from one tree. That still leaves about 80-90 peaches on the Loring peach tree…which to me is still impressive, We planted the tree in March 2021, so it is only two years old. Another branch (a 2nd branch) broke from the tree so I feel it is better to save the tree (protect it from breaking apart)… As a backyard gardener with only an acre+ of land, this crop of peaches seems a minor miracle to me. My wife of course got very angry at me and said that her parents NEVER thinned their peach trees. But, as I said earlier, this is a learning process for me.