Summer Pruning Peach Trees (Before I mess up too badly...)

I’m trying to keep my 5th leaf Earlitreat peach trees at a manageable height without sacrificing next years peaches (should we have a mild enough winter to get any from this wrong zone for these mislabeled arrivals back in '11). Nothing but leaf buds after last winter.

Anyway, they’re already an open vase more or less, and of course now they’ve went nuts with new growth over the past few weeks.

I’ve been out there pruning on one of them, and before I go any more I got to thinking: Geez, if I take these back quite a bit, I’ll be removing a ton of new potential peach producing wood. But…, maybe I’m okay to prune more now, and just assume it’ll still grow like crazy the remainder of the summer, so that by the time I do a late winter (final) prune job before next spring I’ll still have enough new wood to make peaches, yet have a more handy size tree.

Thing is they’re right around 12’ tall now, and I’ve taken the one down to about 9’ but I’d actually like to get it down some more, which I suppose I should probably wait until winter to do. I probably didn’t give them enough space (12’ o/c) but when I originally ordered them I thought they were a dwarf Belle of Georgia and a dwarf Golden Jubilee. I didn’t know a lot about peaches then, and still don’t.

I sort of feel like I can experiment with this a little on this variety since they’ve only cropped one time and I’ll maybe pull them out anyway. But I really need to get a pretty good understanding on the summer prune thing before the other more suitable varieties I’ve planted come of age…

I’ve got a Redhaven I planted last year, and this year Intrepid, PF17, & Madison.

What advice can you give me on this? Should I stop at where I am now and do more in winter, or have I already went too far for this time of the year?


You haven’t gone too far. I can’t tell how open the middle is but height looks good on the left. One on right could be taken down more. They’ll have plenty of flower buds by fall. From there it’s all about winter cold.

Thanks FN, I’ll go to work on the other one tomorrow and take it down to about the 9’ mark. (And hope for a mild winter and peaches NEXT summer)

I would open them up much more and remove all annual growth that can be defined as a water sprout. I’m guessing the crop was frozen out or otherwise destroyed- or have you already harvested?

Essentially you want your bearing wood not to exceed a height of 18-24" above your scaffolds, so anything above that can go. I’d remove more than I’d leave.

Yes they were frozen out this year (And the year before). '13 was the first and last crop I had from them.

The middle of the trees WAS opened up pretty good prior to all this seasons new growth, and when I stand in there, there’s still a sizable window at the top but stuff has really began to head toward the inside that’s for sure.

But I wasn’t certain if I should remove a whole bunch during Summer, and was hesitant to go too far. And was thinking that if that was the case I could just hold off. But it sounds like it’s pretty hard to go too far, even in the summer so I think I’ll go on ahead and do a bunch more now and get the bearing wood down to that 18-24" height you mentioned.

Thank you very much!!!

Could I tag on here and try to get things clarified? With apples, the buds are triggered at some point in summer to transform into fruit buds, right? With stone fruit, is it the same process, or are the buds already dedicated to either fruit or leaves when they form? If they are not already dedicated, and instead they are directed toward fruit budding at a certain time in summer, what part of summer would that happen (for ease of translating to different time zones, early, middle or late summer)?

It would matter for summer pruning of peaches, because in the scenario in which a bud is triggered to form a fruit bud by having the apical bud pinched, or by having enough branches pruned away around it that it got more heat, you’d then want to do the pruning earlier in summer so there would still be time for the bud to transform into a fruit bud.

Not sure that’s clear, but any answers welcome! Thanks.

Lizzy fruit buds are initiated pretty early in summer. I’m talking peach, apricot and plum. I can already see the fruit buds for next yr on those stone fruit. The real limiting factor is that growth that begins after some point won’t have time to set fruit buds. Any growth after this time of yr might not set buds. So that has pruning implications. Don’t expect fruit from wood forced now. But on a bearing tree it’s hard to prune off so much wood that the crop would be reduced the next yr.


Great info. Thanks, fruitnut.

When there is no fruit to calm peach trees and they are growing in any reasonably rich soil you are going to hack them like crazy to keep light low in the tree. Too much shade and the only living buds will end up being 20’ in the air and you will need new trees.


Could you get a picture of an early, developing peach/apricot/nectarine flower bud?