Peach Tree damage

Hey hey long time lurker first time poster. I have some damage to my five year old Contender Peach tree in Denver Colorado and was looking for some advice on how to approach fixing this.

So last year i did not thin my contender tree expecting the hail to do it for me like it usually does and once i made it through the hail season i choose to wrongly support the branches rather than thin, we had one branch that had a wire tie on it and it had grown around the wire and this caused some hidden damage. I had tried to pull it out with pliers but it just broke and stayed inside the crotch angle of the branch. Well with a full load of peaches and some very intense wind the branch broke and had obviously had some structural issues and or bacteria or fungi growing around the wire as it was black and not healthy tissue. The cut wasn’t ideal and was done at night in a windstorm at the wrong angle just to stave off more damage to the trunk.

I Know i need to cut a downward angle (it angles towards the base of the tree currently) but it goes pretty deep in the tree trunk and only want to do the cut once. It is very dry hot and humid here in the summer and we get snap freezes and lots of warm ups through the winter but usually when its cold there is snow to insulate. No snow or moisture really sat inside the hole mainly because its the opposite angle from the wind and snow. I can see as its starting to warm up sap coming from around the cambium and would like to address this. Because of my weather in my climate usually i do not seal cuts and if anything i will spray a beneficial bacteria / fungi spray and leave it open to oxygen. This is the style the old timers i learned to grow fruit from used and has worked for me before. The tree seemed to have survived the winter the same as my other peaches (Intrepid, Halehaven both same age) and I am interested in helping it live and be healthy. I have been a fan of burning wounds on trees and have just not seen the “tree seals” do that well here but i am open to latex paint. Contender is my favorite tasting yellow peach and has just been outstanding as far as ease of growing and making it past light frosts and has been everyone’s favorite (well Indian Free also but thats a october white peach). Would appreciate advice from anyone on how to approach this first picture is now last picture is when the damage occured. Im planning to prune once we are out of the hard frost category but before major sap flow.

When the snap occuredIMG_0260

If it was my tree I would only cut the lower part of that damage at an angle and down to vital cambium. As it is there seems to be some dead wood and the tree will not be able to seal that. I wouldn’t do more. But dont enlarge the wound much. That would do more harm than good. I dont think the tree will ever seal that wound completely. But if the stem is still strong enough to support the canopy I see no reason to get rid of the tree. That wound will stay a weak point though and might give at some point. I suggest to plant another contender just in case.

If you have to deal with damaging insects attacking wood you could try to seal with paint.

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That’s a severe cut, but you can see the tree is already healing. I wonder if you could use like a dremel tool to reduce that blackened wood.

I think your main problem now may be the weakened reduced trunk. Might be best to prune wood on the opposite side until it’s stronger and better able to bear the load of the weight

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Thanks for the advice guys! I like the idea of a dremel tool to remove some of the damaged tissue and i have even had some pretty crazy ideas of cutting off a upper main limb and using the healthy tissue to try to graft around and give the wound a better shape frankenstein style, but I also think that is pretty crazy and possibly above my skill level. My peaches are in a pretty sunny part of my yard as far as winter goes and i finally removed some “horrible tree of heaven” and last year i had ordered an extra Contender (Probably should have gotten a veteran but i know contender does great here) a Polly peach and a flavor supreme pluot (zone 6 i know but this is a frozen corner of my yard and i think things will do much better and stay asleep) so i already have a replacement lined up but i really would like to do best for this one.

After you clean up the wood, you could try some bridge grafts over that area.

Thanks Cafeaulait! My question is what do i do with the huge hollow and/or air pocket or does it even matter? I could take a large caliper trunk that i take off and peel it around and get a piece long enough to do a skin graft type and try to cover the entire wound?

I don’t think the air pocket will matter once the bridge grafts get some size. They are kind of self-contained, and that big wound has been healing on the sides itself, so that part is working itself out.

If the bark starts slipping you could insert your grafts under the bark on the top and bottom, looking at the wound.

I’d use a sharp knife and see where good cambium starts near the top and bottom of the wound (and cut out the cankered ‘wood,’ just down to heart wood). Then I’d make a small test slit to see if the bark slips nicely (try to peel from a corner of the slit and see if the bark peels as a nice single piece).

If so, you could put several smallish scions to eventually make a strong bridge, and I bet they’d take if you did it in the right temps, etc, for peach grafting.

I have some scions that are still dormant if you need some.

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Here is a picture I found with Google of how the bridge grafts size up:



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Thank you so much! that looks excellent! and probably makes more sense than the way i was thinking of peeling the xylem out and stretching it. That seems like its grown good. I have never grafted peaches because i never really have a time that its only in the 70s to low 80s during the day but above 40 at night. And would i just T-Bud like one or two little scion buds in between those ? Luckily that spot barely gets direct sun in the morning (My sun is scorching) and gets shaded by the rest of the trunk so i think it would be the easiest part of that tree to graft. Thank you for the offer that is very kind, What scions do you have i really need cold hardy and late blooming for peaches as they are pretty iffy here.

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Mine might not be cold hardy enough. One is Redskin, but that’s not completely certain, tho it’s buds are hardy. The other is a mislabel with hardy buds that ripens about a week before. But I don’t know how hardy the tree itself would be. The peaches are incredible. But for the bridges use hardy wood.

You can add t buds and see if they take, but peach trunks are often not happy about growing buds. Younger wood does better as a place to try buds, imho.

I think you should try the bridge style on the left in this picture. If the trunk is pretty big, you should have nice room under the bark, I’d expect.


Im definitely feeling more willing to try now thank you for all the excellent advice. Its getting beyond its boundary so i can take off a nice large chunk of it, i will probably stick to just replacing it with itself as i really need things that are cold hardy of zone 4 and below for this part of my yard. It just gets so much sun and warms up really quick and I have had alot of stuff die that woke up too fast or just didn’t drop its sap fast enough. We have had two 60 degree temperature swings in 12 hours and one was like 72 degrees in 40 hours in the last three years and thats just kind of normal for us and is probably going to get worse as the years pass. Which has resulted in alot of plants i thought i would be able to grow here just not making it because they wake up too early and die (like lingonberries?) and the earlier relased honeyberries. I try to aim for 1k+ cold hours but that seems to matter less than the trees that can ignore two warm weeks and focus on how cold it is at night (Like sour cherries and apples). We warm early because of the elevation and then it also cools quick like it was in the seventies yesterday and today snowed.

Would it be best if after cleaning up all the wood i have the graft ready to go or should i do those tasks on seperate days? Im still planning on doing the work my first day off that sap flows is that a good idea with peaches?

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Either way, but separate days may let any weeping from the wound clean-up dry out. I use a cotton ball with peroxide on cankered areas that I’ve just cleaned up. Just get the peroxide on the parts that were bad if you can help it.

Cut the long scions and keep them dormant and just slightly damp in your fridge. You want the tree to be more awake than them. And I’d use parafilm to cover the scions while grafted if possible. If you need some for that, I can mail you an envelope with enough.

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Thank you for the offer, I do have some parafilm. Would you cover the entire area with the parafilm or just the part around were the graft is sealing? I also assume i need to go all the way around the tree trunk in a few areas to keep the parafilm secure the trunk is probably 12" around You would certainly be welcome to any graft wood you would want from me as well.

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Thank you :slight_smile: I think I’d leave the rest of the wound open in case there is canker.

I’d use parafilm on the scions and probably wrap around so the bark is nice and moist over the scion ends, yeah. I’d also use electrical tape over that to make sure it’s good and tight for a while.

That is big! I like that for bark grafting, because you might get the scions to slip under the bark without even cutting a slit. If they do that, I’d angle both sides on all the ends of the scions, like for a cleft graft basically. Then just slip them under and secure. Use a lot of them since peaches are harder to graft.

I haven’t bridge grafted, but I saved a cherry 90% girdled by canker by inarching, which is similar on one end. The scions grow thick really fast once connected to the tree’s trunk system! It worked great.

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I like it I originally started this looking for ideas on burning the wound but i think this is much better! Any negative to doing the bridge graft at the bottom of the lip i cut? I don’t really expect much precipitation and feel i could angle the grafts to keep snow off

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I don’t think so. I hope others weigh in. I can’t remember who, but I think we have someone who bridge grafted girdled trees successfully.

It’s mostly a matter of grafting talent/luck I think. Read up on bark grafting here, imho. Or top working threads. I haven’t done a ton of bark grafting, but what I did do was easy if the bark was slipping and the scions were pointy and skinny enough at the ends. You may want to cut your scions extra long to give room for goofs/practice :slight_smile:

I have mainly never tried to graft a peach because of the temperature issue and i never seem to get hawaii style weather. I also have a Tslor Tsiran Apricot i was planning on doing some grafting on since my understanding is that apricots are easier. Im excited and will post pictures of the peach, i kind of want to make some X grafts or something artistic but feel it would be better just to do some straight up and down bridges that may grow together like your above picture. Thanks again it always helps to get a different point of view.

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