Peach Tree Training and Pruning by Bill Shane

I’ve found his presentation very useful and easy to understand. Although it mainly was for commercial peach farmers, backyard gardeners can benefit a great deal from it.

New England Winter Fruit Seminar Series: Keeping Peach Tress Healthy and Productive - YouTube.

@Olpea - have you seen this video? The info about low temp and damage to peach tree is very timely. I thought peach trees could tolerate colder temp than what he showed. Also, I thought, older trees would be tougher to kill by extreme cold. His sample was the opposite.

Learn a lot including various pruning system.


Thank you for this link. I have three peach trees I need to get under control. I have been avoiding it for a few years. I will save this video.

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Thanks Tippy. I hadn’t seen the video before. I watched part of it tonight.

So far it’s a great historical video.

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Thanks i enjoyed the presentation as. well i was not aware of the different training styles and found some of the branch training ideas really helpful i also didn’t think about the risks involved with competing scaffold branches although i felt intuitively one should avoid them.

Thanks for the link

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Watching it made ne realize all my mistakes. My usual mistakes are being indecisive and allowing the trees to grow out of hand!! I have never heard of some training systems like Hex and the Fan for peach trees. I thought about @scottfsmith’s trees when I saw the Y system. Still, an open center system seems to best suit my purpose.

@Olpea - the video, though an hour long, are definitely most useful for newer growers. However, it included several new pieces of info i.e. some training systems and some cold hardy rootstocks I have never heard of. Good to know there is no such a thing as a dwarf peach rootstock (not counting Patio peach).

@MikeC - I plan to save this video to.

Hopefully, more people here will watch it. @maineorchard, @MaureeninMaine, @blueberrythrill, et al.

@mrsg47, I got this info from the RI lady whom you introduced to me a while back. Thank you.


Thanks…can’t wait to watch today!

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It is a very helpful video. Lot of practical knowledge of growing peach in cold region. Thanks Tippy, for sharing the video here.

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Great video, just finished it. I had no idea the broom -like branches on peach trees were called crills. I used to cut the entire thing off. They were unsightly as well.

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Finally got a chance to finish the vid Tippy. Thanks again for posting.

One thing which Bill Shane doesn’t make clear in the vid is summer pruning.

He says only remove a maximum of 15% of the wood during dormant pruning. That’s a fine rule, but that’s not nearly enough wood removal if that is the only pruning done.

We have to typically remove about 50% of the wood per year, except on old trees, which don’t require as much wood removal.

This aggressive pruning is required even after we go through and tear out green upright shoots in May or early June.

Most of our pruning is summer pruning because we don’t have time to prune just before bloom. There are too many other chores to do at that time.


Thanks @mamuang, it was an informative video.
I was disappointed to see Autumn Star on the list of those that had a higher % of trunk splitting and tree/limb death. I put one Autumn Star in last year, and one going in this spring. Our low so far this winter has been -13 to -17 depending on which weather station I look at. Maybe they will be OK!

He says to be proactive and take out problem growth before it gets too large, and you will avoid some possible (probable?) canker issues. Good advice! I don’t always get that done, and a year later there can be substantial growth. Two years later, I worry about taking out a limb that is now a lot larger than I anticipated it would be.
So what is the best course of action when you DIDN’T deal with those limbs, and now they are 2" to even 3" in diameter and you really think they should be removed. When would be the best time to remove, and should you seal them with something like Doc Farwell’s? I haven’t applied anything to pruning cuts in the past, I let them heal on their own. I haven’t made a pruning cut that large though.

He was talking about breaking branches.It looked as though,they were left on the tree,or maybe they showed that as a visual aid.

Imo, yes. We cut stuff that size all the time. It’s best to cut it in the hot summer, or just before the summer heat starts. Dry weather for 48 hrs is best. I wouldn’t put any wound sealant on the wound. For really big wounds, I’ve put on a thick slurry of copper before. Copper is a wood preservative (as well as a bactericide and fungicide). It will help preserve the wood while the tree takes extra time to cover a large wound.

No, that’s actually a recommended thing. The idea is to shade out the middle growth of the tree with broken branches. The broken branches don’t die, so they keep their leaves/shade to prevent growth in the center of the tree.

We’ve tried it before and I don’t like it. I actually like a little growth in the center. If managed carefully (not always easy to do) you can grow some peaches in the center of the tree.

The best method for keeping the center of a peach tree reasonably clear of growth is to rip out the green shoots before they harden. It’s fast and easy. We don’t always have time to get it done though.


Thanks @Olpea, that’s reassuring. I will wait for some good hot, dry weather this summer to remove a few larger limbs.
Do you have a diameter range for cuts in which you use the copper?

His 2 shoot method for keeping renewal wood; a short one and a long one - is that similar to how you prune and keep fruiting wood young? I feel that this is a bit over my head right now, but is this method used on anything that grows off of your main scaffolds, where you want fruiting wood to grow? As opposed to interior growth, water sprouts, etc. where you would just be removing all of this. Although I see you mentioned keep some interior fruiting wood, but that is more the exception than the rule I assume.

When cut large limbs in growing season, how do you deal with peach leaks its fluid?

We should probably use it more because I do have some canker issues. They have been getting worse. If your trees have issues with canker, I’d probably apply it to anything bigger than a 1.5". If you don’t see much canker on your trees, I probably wouldn’t apply it until you got in the 3" cut range (Yes we have pruned peach trees with a chain saw. :face_with_raised_eyebrow::unamused:)

Sort of. As Bill Shane alluded, we probably do it unconsciously. We try to leave what we call “hat racks” in places where we need more wood. Also, as the tree finally fills its space, we keep cutting the wood back to a shoot, so the trees can keep putting on new wood. Our trees are spaced 18’ apart in the rows. If we aren’t careful, they will grow into each other (i.e. overlap into the next trees growing zone) then it gets real hard to manage the sunlight when the trees are overlapping. Plus you can’t walk in between the trees without ducking down a lot.

Peach wood will bleed from any injury (including pruning) especially after a bunch of rain. It’s pretty normal and doesn’t hurt the tree.


Thanks olpea! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Glad to hear we can prune off more than 15%. I let my nectarine get away with it last year. Need 40% trimming this year.

@KSprairie - I have Autumn Star for 8-9 years now in my zone 6 a. It can get pretty cold. So far no issue with bark split. There were two years when we had warm Feb and colder March/April. Lost almost all fruit buds of stone fruit including peaches.

PF24 C fruit buds are more cold tolerant than Autumn Star. The fruit is good, too. Autumn Star is a bit larger and a tad tastier.


That is good to hear. I am curious how the one I have will come through the cold. I just put it in last spring, it was a good looking tree from Schlabach’s. I wanted to extend my peach harvest later into the season, so that was my main reason for choosing Autumn Star (and it is described as a large, good tasting peach, of course! :yum:)
The PF24c sounds like a good peach, around 20 days earlier to harvest than Autumn Star. I will keep that one in mind if I decide to add any more for that ripening window.

I guess on the bright side, this will be a good year to test cold hardiness of peach wood and fruit buds. I may have a more clear idea of what NOT to plant again.
I was also glad Mark commented on the amount (15%) of pruning Dr Shane recommended. That sounded so low to me, I know I take off 25-30% on average.

I had PF24 C (removed last fall after 10 years). My PF24 C ripened about 10 days before Autumn Star, definitely not 20 days. I was a bit disappointed that it ripened quite close to AS and that I had tons of peaches to eat in a short span.

I let my peaches fully ripened on the trees before picking.

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Why did you remove it?
Thanks for the ripening times. I based that ~20d off of Mark’s 2020 Evaluations;
PF24 C +24
Autumn Star +43
Regional differences maybe…