The mystery of the missing peaches

For anyone who remembers the boardgame Clue, here’s a mystery for you:

When I left for a vacation 2 weeks ago, my Saturn peach tree was carrying about 100 peaches. When I got home tonight, all of the peaches were missing. To say that I am heartbroken is an understatement. There were no pits or half eaten fruits around my tree. Nothing on the ground, either. A few of the smallest branches were broken, but other than that my tree is fully leafed out and very healthy looking. My tree is in my front yard, less than 10 feet from my footpath and the sidewalk.


Was it:

  • Critters in the night with sharp teeth?
  • Neighbors on a stroll with secateurs?
  • The storm from last week with howling winds?

What do you all think happened? I am so stumped, and so sad. This was my only stonefruit that fruited out after the late freezes this past spring. It was looking so good, and now, nothing. :sob::face_with_symbols_over_mouth::triumph:

Can you post some pictures? It might give some context.

Storm- you would probably see some peaches on the ground- count that one out.

Critters- very possible. Do you have anything in your area that would devour a peach tree? This is definitely a possibility. I would expect some evidence of a critter attack- poop, half eaten peach, something indicating an animal was there.

Neighbors- when I was a kid the neighbor lady would take her outlaw kids out at night with strollers and fill them up with apples. They would go into people’s yards and steal their apples in the dead of the night. If you factor in the broken branches (think small kids going up and down the tree) then this could be a very likely scenario.

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Raccoons. Look for pieces of the pits around the tree. My peach trees were raccoon magnets one year when I had to be away around ripening time. I could see the little path the had worn down in my grass when the grass was a little taller. They can strip a fruit tree in no time.

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I would say most likely is squirrels, #2 is raccoon, and #3 is groundhog. The limb breakage sounds more like squirrels. Raccoons usually break more and groundhogs even more. It is too early for them to be ripe so I don’t think any human would have picked them. Squirrels love peaches with quite a ways to go to ripeness.


From my experience squirrels carry the peach away, racoons not as much. The worst mistake I made planting my orchard was not putting an electric fence around the trees.


I’d say squirrels too. They pick the fruit and carry it away, eat some right away and store the remainder for later eating.

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Squirrels have voracious appettites! I would vote for squirrels stashing them away for later eating

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Squirrels pick all my fruit before it is even half grown. They carry it off and 1 bite then drop it and up the tree for another. They will strip my pear tree of over a 1000 golf ball size pears by July. I will probably remove all my fruit trees by years end. There is little to no physical evidence other than eye witnessing myself.


They do the same with my mangoes and avocados until the fruits are large enough to make the branches hang down instead of up. Then they leave them alone. They’ve become so bold that even a nesting pair of Cooper’s hawks with their two fledgeling youngsters living on my trees don’t scare them away

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Same happened to me. I had a peach tree filled with about 2 - 3 paper shopping bags full of peaches and they were all gone in one day/night just as they were about ready for me to pick.

Based on popular consensus, I think squirrels were the likely culprit.

I haven’t really seen racoons or groundhogs in this neighborhood, and I like to think my neighbors wouldn’t be so mean. Also, I don’t know how ripe they would have been, so neighbors probably wouldn’t have wanted them. Last year was the first year that this tree fruited, and I wrote down that it ripened on or around July 18th. So, maybe it ripened two weeks earlier this year, but probably not enough for neighbors to pick a whole tree?

Followup question: any tips for keeping squirrels at bay in a fairly crowded suburban area? I don’t feel comfortable with guns or bb-guns, so that option is out.

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I’m not sure there’s much that could be done short of a full tree cage like the one @Richard made this spring to keep the birds off his peach tree:

the war rages here too. I’m in town so I get every random squirrel plus the fat ones the neighbors FEED
on purpose!!!

squirrelinator cage is the only thing that’s worked and yes, we’ve tried a small air rifle too. they won’t go into other traps at all, avoid the killing tube traps, etc.

so I’ve been catching 2-3 at a time in one of these and my partner, who has a very soft heart, drives them to a park about 10 miles away where people feed the damn things I’ll never understand why people do that

water I get. feeding them though. why???

these two and their mama were all caught the same day

edit: excuse the recycling pile mess

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I vote humans. Wildlife is messy. I can always find gnawed remains from squirrels and coons.

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Maybe it was a combo of people and critters?

That’s super impressive, but I don’t have it in me to make something that elaborate.

It’s interesting, last year the tree fruited fine with no noticeable fruit-theft (by critters, or otherwise). Do you think the squirrels just didn’t know about the fruit last year, and are wiser this year? Also, last year I had one of those white-plastic spiral tree guards on the tree. Do you think that deterred squirrels from climbing up at all? I had to take the guard off this year cause the trunk got too thick, but if it helped, maybe I’ll put something similar back on.

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Sorry this happened to you. I spent a couple of weeks giving neighbors the side eye over a suddenly empty pear tree but I think it was squirrels. It breaks your heart.
Or maybe it was Mrs. White with a lead pipe in the conservatory?


True, squirrels do just bite the fruit regardless if the fruit is ripe or not. The posters may be right and they may be squirrels that carried away all your fruit. Use a trail cam to see what is actually getting your fruit, next year. I use one to see what was getting my fruit trees.

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I had all of the pecans go missing from an entire tree, one time. Like you, we waited and waited . . . and then - Poof! They were no longer on the tree! And no evidence either! I thought the lawn guys took them. But, the next year we didn’t have anyone mowing the yard for us . . . and the pecans disappeared AGAIN! It seemed as though - in one night!

Turned out . . . I think it was squirrels and raccoons! And we never saw a thing. I’m still suspecting alien activity is a more likely scenario.