Thinning Peaches-Nectarines



Most don’t need to worry about too early especially with heavy set. I’ve only had issues once with too early and too heavy and that’s when I really went overboard with too heavy as soon as the fruits were obvious.

I’ve never had issues starting as soon as you can tell the biggest fruits from the smallest. Leave the biggest and thin to standard recommendations. I seem to thin more than standard and haven’t had issues with split pits doing that.

My “problem” with standard spacing is that it doesn’t seen to account for the small shoots and spurs. I haven’t measured but if you add all those up and leave one peach for every 8 inches that seems like way too much fruit to me. I think maybe they mean every 8 inches on bigger shoots and ignore the really small shoots. Plus no fruit on those small shoots as they can’t support the weight anyhow.


Thinning is a continual process and seems to almost never stop, because most trees bloom over a long period of time. Which means you’re going to get fruit set over a long period of time. Hence, the story told by Olpea. I thin almost every day for weeks, and could still thin some more.



Thanx… that is the type of guidance that I needed and for which this Forum is so important.



" I think maybe they mean every 8 inches on bigger shoots and ignore the really small shoots."

I think of this too every year while thinning. I adjust for that based on what I think the shoot can handle / supply.
Having never once been successful with peaches I think my own thoughts should be automatically disqualified, but FWIW fruitnut…I think you are right.


@alan, @fruitnut, @scottfsmith and others, one of my nectarine trees, which ripens in Sep, produced so many short branches (1-6” long) that are relatively thin and have a lot of flower buds. They are also close to each other, somewhat looking like Apricot spurs. Only a few of the strong 8-12” branches grew on it this summer. Now I am wondering on how to thin the fruitlets next spring, shall I prune off whole branches of those 1-6” long ones and space these branches at ~8” from each other? Obviously those small branches, each of them will be able to hold a maximum of one fruit, but if I leave them all, I think the tree will definitely have too much, low quality fruit.


If mine I’d take out a bunch of wood. Like 1/3 of the tree maybe more. Then think about spacing as not fruit per length of wood but rather as distance between peaches. If no peach is closer than 8-12 inches from another peach in any direction they won’t be too thick. That’s sort of like thinking about leaves per peach.

I’m very much about quality over quantity when it comes to my fruit. But I’m still more likely to under thin than over thin.


Try as we may, year after year, most fruit growers, including myself, are often fooled by how far apart fruit looks when it is still tiny at thinning time.

I believe I’m gradually getting better, though. It just seems to take passing through trees about 3 times.


Think it’s easier to make several passes. Both psychologically and practically.i


I find myself thinning peaches and nectarines almost every
day, since the bloom period is so long, and I still always regret not
thinning more than I did.


I often remove those small branches, or I stub them to a couple buds. Some varieties also produce more of them, Indian Free is one variety I remember.


Yes, pruning is the first step in thinning for me. Get rid of everything likely to produce inferior fruit.


Same here…!!


@alan, @fruitnut

At what time of the years do you perform the “thinning by pruning”?

Also, What criteria do e use to determine the shoots that are “likely to produce inferior fruit”?



First when I’m pruning in early spring and then when I’m actually thinning. I prune out any shaded wood and then shoots that are weak that are next to stronger ones always keeping in mind how much room the fruit itself will need and making sure remaining fruiting wood is not shaded.


I like to prune waterspouts in the fall, since I don’t grow any fruit on waterspouts if I can help it. Then I come back at thinning time and prune off any shoots which don’t have fruit (if it’s a light fruit set). That way every shoot is producing something.

If it’s a heavy fruit set, I prune off any shoots less than about 7 inches, prune all the interior shoots close to the trunk, and generally start thinning out anything which points up a little too much or points down a little too much. I also prune anything which looks like it will touch the ground when heavy with fruit.

I’m convinced for the best quality fruit (sizewise and flavor) a full sized peach tree should carry no more than 250 fruit. I occasionally read how some growers are getting 400+ peaches per tree, but size really suffers if I go much over 250/tree. I’m sure my non-irrigated trees vs. irrigated (as the commercial norm) have something to do with it.


Of course, one needs to have an idea how large and vigorous are your trees to benefit from you strategy of the number of peaches you allow a single tree to produce.

At some sites I manage, peach trees never establish great vigor for various reasons that are occasionally mysterious to me. Often it is the result of competition from nearby forest trees.