So here’s a pickle. I planted this Babcock peach last year and cut it down to 18" so there would be plentiful new growth (and get along with the other trees in my high density planting. But instead of growing near the top of the cut, it put out branches near the bottom, close to (but above) the graft.
So…what do I do now??? Start over?? The new shoots are in a group of three but I’m wondering if any of them will ever be enough to support the tree. I’ve read that bare root peaches need a nurse branch and I’m thinking that’s probably right, since this one didn’t have that. But I’m really not sure what to do with this…graft a new variety? And what kind of graft??? Top work on such a thin start seems odd, but doable…? I wouldn’t mind losing the variety (well, kind of), but it seems a waste to lose the entire tree.
Pull that tall one past vertical and tie it to the trunk the tag is on. I’d save the other(s) for either scionwood or a back-up for a year. See how that branch you pull past vertical performed next year… hopefully you’ll be able to remove the trunk completely. I can’t tell if it’s dead or not. I sure as heck don’t see any buds on it.
Sometimes that happens with peaches and as long as the growth is above the graft union you regrow the tree just as Dax says. I’m surprised it didn’t give you more robust growth- did it get enough water and nitrogen? Or is the drainage poor?
Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of that. It does have buds on it (can’t really see them), and I’ll save the scion wood. I gave it plenty of water (checked regularly) and the other trees in the planting did just fine. I’m surprised there wasn’t more robust growth, too. Very odd. I can’t tell if the trunk is dead, either. It’s just very strange.
So I’ll use a zip-tie tomorrow and we’ll see what happens! Would fertilizer be helpful, at this point?
I’m just about certain the trunk is dead- they don’t go a season without growth and spring back the next- although I once had a spring graft stay dormant for a year and grow the next. Usually, when most of the trunk dies with a peach tree, you don’t lose much growth the first season as surviving shoots are still being driven by the same root system. However, peach trees have brittle roots and are savagely dug from the field- often having almost no root system when they arrive from the nursery. My bundles of trees always arrive with a wide range of surviving roots- some look like carrots. In my experience, the more roots the quicker the recovery and the more rapid first season growth. But it’s more a factor as you go further north and experience a shorter growing season.
Hopefully your “tree” will come out gangbusters this season, but it probably won’t, because the top is so feeble it can’t have given the roots much to work with.
Good information, thank you. I’m not really hopeful, but what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. It probably also didn’t help that it got hit with some powdery mildew at the end of the season last year and I sprayed it with copper. We’ll see how things go. But I just ordered rootstock from Raintree, so if it gives up the ghost (or just doesn’t do anything), I can replace it with something else. I’m not really hopeful about peaches in my backyard in general (sigh), but if I do buy another one, I’ll be careful about where I buy it.
Why are you pessimistic about peaches in Oakland? If there’s good light you should be able to grow almost anything there.
Curl is a problem and it seems the powdery mildew in my backyard likes to latch onto anything peach based (nectaplum, Babcock, Saturn, and DD nectarine). It ignores everything else (aprium, pluot, pluerry, pear, apple, passion fruit, feijoa, citrus, European plum, etc.) except tomatoes. My neighbor has a yellow peach tree that she doesn’t take care of, so it only gives fruit once every 5 years or so (I have offered to help…sigh), but the peaches are good when they come in. I do get heat here in the banana belt, the fog burns off earlier and comes in later, but I’m just not sure it’s going to work. Plums do great, as do apples, but I’m not sure about peaches. My backyard is southern facing and I get about 10 hours of sun in the summer, so it SHOULD work. But…maybe I just need to learn my site better to coax the fruit out of the trees. Honestly, though, this is the first year I might have fruit, so I don’t know if it will work or not. I do have possible ace up my sleeve, but that’s for another post, since it’s still very theoretical.
In short, I don’t have a lot of confidence in growing peaches here. But I really want to, and I’ve heard of people growing Arctic Star nectarines in Berkeley! Since that’s 3-5 degrees cooler, there must be a way to do it. I’m already looking for scion wood of Hermosa and Pallas peach to try grafting…but that may be my own obsessive need to try to get my own peaches, and not sense.
The Arctic Star nectarine I have is on Lovell Rootstock and has been very vigorous. I like to have a vigorous tree to help fight off all the diseases I have. I do not like the citation rootstock. It is just not vigorous enough when grafted to a peach, even for a tree in a container.
I believe my Babcock is on Citation, so that would be another indicator of things not being ideal…
I use a copper soap that can be applied all season but any copper formulation will work for PLC. The trick is getting it on the tree while it is fully dormant- a short window in Oakland, but it should be open for a few more days.
Ah, good to know. Unfortunately, almost everything has broken bud, but maybe there’s hope for the Babcock…possibly the Saturn. The nectaplum is the spot that gets it the worst and it already has flowers out. :-/ What sort of copper soap do you have? I usually use a spray.
It is a spray, but a soap formulation that is not phyto-toxic. Unfortunately, PLC needs to be sprayed during dormancy to be effective. Usually just one spray just before they break bud does the trick, but in worse case situations one in fall and one in “spring” is needed.