Thinning Genetic Dwarf Peaches

Last year I dug up my approximately 5 year old El Dorado peach tree, pruned it, and planted it in a large container. The reason for doing so was to keep it out of the winter rain, and thereby avoid Peach Leaf Curl disease.

That effort was successful. The trees that I did not treat so ruthlessly are covered with leaf curl. The containerized El Dorado, has none at all and survived and bloomed nicely.

The fruit set looks dramatic. I thought these were all fertilized flowers, but then I read there can be apparent fruit set that are duds that did not get fertilized.

The internodes are very short. That’s what makes these genetic dwarfs, dwarf. Instead of a couple or few inches between nodes, they might be 1/2 or 1 inch apart. So, the fruits are also that close together.

Before thinning -

After thinning -

I removed about 5 little peaches for every peach I left on the tree. It’s very easy, I used a kitchen scissors. The fruits are all at about eye-height, good for my bad eyesight and reading glasses. It’s possible I thinned too early, and it’s possible I did not thin enough. From readings, the earlier thinned, the most benefit in terms of larger, earlier fruit. On the other hand, if I left unfertilized duds on the tree, maybe they will all fall off and I won’t get any.

I figure, if possible, they should not be touching each other. One article stated the peach needs 30 to 45 leaves to support full growth. Since genetic dwarf peaches tend to be smaller, they may need fewer leaves. Also, I’m not sure if that’s 30 to 45 leaves at start of season, or later. Another article stated, have about 5 to 7 fruits per shoot after thinning, but that’s full size fruit trees in orchard, not genetic dwarf in container. For most branches, I left about 3 to 5 per shoot.

It’s hard to find a lot of info about growing genetic dwarf peaches in containers. Mother Earth News had one interesting article.

I’m still not sure I removed enough. In a month, maybe I will count the leaves per peach and see if any are touching one another, and remove more.

Other thoughts / experiences certainly appreciated. I have never grown peaches in containers, and this is my first time, in 14 years of growing genetic dwarfs, of having one free of peach leaf curl disease. :smile:


I got a Sweet Sensation dwarf peach tree from Statkros and I had to thin so much fruits off this tree every year. I ended up with 5 inches per fruit.


Tony, how were the peaches? Good?

It’s easy to not thin enough on those trees. I used to thin to one peach every three or so inches, there are enough leaves that that was good enough.


The tree is loaded with real sweet peaches yearly. One of my favorite. They ripe somewhat early than other peaches.


Tony, that’s good to know. Thanks.

Scott, sounds like I need to do more thinning. Maybe I should wait a few weeks, in case the remaining ones drop.

Bear, thanks for the updates on your Eldorado. I’m following your experiences with it with great interest.

Thanks for posting this Bear. I have a few comments and questions too. This winter I got a Honey Babe genetic dwarf peach and I have it in a large pot. It has set quite a few fruits especially considering it hasn’t been here more than a few months! I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t let it fruit until next year? Or maybe just one peach per branch… But I’m not sure that the logic of smaller peaches–>fewer leaves necessary per peach, works, because the leaves are smaller too–at least on my Honey Babe. So I think the rule probably still stands at 30-45. And I don’t really “get” fruit drop. When is fruit drop usually, on a peach? And is fruit drop just the point where the tree drops everything that didn’t get pollenated, or is it something more than that? Also, weirdly, the dried flower parts that are so evident in the photos above, were actually girdling the peaches on my other, no-name peach tree. The flowers were so tough that they often didn’t fall off, so the little ring stayed tight around the peach, and the peach would get distorted and the crease would become a haven for bugs and debris. Is that common? I’ve taken to carefully pulling them off this season–I grip them from both sides and pull apart, otherwise it would just pull the fruit off. Tough little things.

I’ve never owned a genetic dwarf peach, so maybe they are different.

I can say with regular peach trees I read all kinds of thinning distances. We’ve settled into about 1 peach per 12" of branch space. That means at harvest peaches spaced 12" apart will actually be 9" apart. We leave a little less space for peaches on the outside/top of the canopy since they get more sunlight. We probably thin heavier than most.

We start thinning at petal fall. Some varieties won’t set as well as others, so there are some we wait till shucks-off before we start thinning (as in Bear’s photo). Some peaches will abort once they are out of the shuck, but as long as you keep the larger fruitlets (thinning off the small ones) very few will abort.

I’ve never seen the case Lizzy describes, where the shucks wouldn’t eventually pop off. I’ve seen some shucks constrict the peaches for a while, but eventually the shucks break apart. The little fruitlets show some deformity for a short time, but grow out of it.

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