TO PRUNE or NOT TO PRUNE STONE FRUIT NOW


#1

@olpea, @alan & all

Most of my peaches, nects and hybrids have now been harvested.

I’ve always had trouble keeping the stone fruits within the confines of my espalier world.
My problem is that some growth I neglected to trim earlier this year has shot skyward and thickened up alot and and will definitely be cut off for next season.

QUESTION: Can I perform a thinning cut NOW and immediately cover the cut with a sealant to protect it. In the spring I am a weekend warrior and things seem to go at light speed.

Mike


#2

Don’t you keep your trees in a kind of espalier form?

I cannot guarantee pruning young peach trees now in your zone is alright now- for mature trees at least 5 years old I have experience pruning now and in my Z6 it has been OK. The only time I regretted pruning peach trees was in Feb when an unexpected extreme cold snap immediately followed. A couple died and several others suffered pretty severe cambium damage. They were about 4 year old trees.


#3

Mike,

I’ve never pruned espalier so I may not be much help here.

I typically prune peach trees in the fall and try to get done by the end of Oct. but never make it. Generally it’s about the end of Nov., which is later than I’d like. The only problems I’ve had is with young trees which are fall pruned heavily will sometimes not make it through the winter.

Our winters aren’t too bad though. Most of the time we get to around between -5 to -10 for the low, but it has gotten as cold as -12.


#4

@alan

Apples and pears are easy to espalier.

Trying to espalier stone fruit is ( at least for me) like herding cats. They put on growth in every which direction and except for my Satsuma plum I have been a miserable failure at controlling the stones. I had runaway growth on some. Its like they are laughing at me.

Mike


#5

@Olpea

The trees I am targeting are 3-4 years old. I need to make thinning cuts to large upright(ish) growing runaways.

I was wondering that as covering the cuts with sealant will prevent any new pre-winter growth from the cut.

And, being that it is at the tail end of the season, I was not expecting any new growth down below the cut.

Seemed logical to me… but then again, when was it that “logic” last worked in an orchard. :slight_smile:

Mike


#6

I’ve never tried managing peaches that way but E and J plums have done OK. You just have to keep pruning them all summer on about a biweekly schedule.

I expect that the shaded growth got adequate light to produce next year since the shade was not during the majority of the growing season, right? What I’d do is prune half the trees and leave the other half and try to really learn something. If I’d listened to Cornell, I would have thought the only safe time to prune is in late winter and early spring.

A sealant probably won’t help you. For most situations they’ve been debunked for decades, starting with the work of Alex Shigo. Most do more harm than good. Lac Balsalm may be an exception- at least it appears to do no harm.

I had a devil of a time keeping my own nursery peaches adequately pruned this season. Growth was rapid and relentless and the trees are much too closely spaced. The deer must think I planted the trees as a crop for them. They won’t eat the lower branches I’ve sprayed with repellent much but every branch I cut from higher in the trees has every leaf stripped off in a day or 2.

I have continued pruning peaches here- just the most vigorous shoots, even on my 2-year nursery trees. I expect there is plenty of time and energy for your own trees to protect themselves from injury you inflict on them this coming weekend if you just do this. I’m just guaranteeing nothing. A few big thinning cuts shouldn’t stimulate a rush of growth- even if that was an existential issue.

One year we had a long summer drought that broke in the last week of Aug which caused a late surge of vegetative growth- especially on J. plums. A very cold winter followed and a lot of that new growth was killed but the trees themselves were fine. It was only the new growth that failed to adequately harden off. I’ve never seen this described in the literature, which always suggests that a late surge of growth is dangerous to the ENTIRE tree.


#7

We are getting pretty late in the season here. Most things have set terminal buds, except for vigorous peach trees. Still I doubt you’ll stimulate much growth at this point beyond what would normally take place, even if you hadn’t pruned.

I think I understand your thought process that using a sealant might keep enough sunlight off wood at the cuts to stop any adventitious buds from forming right away on some of your stone fruit hybrids? I think it would be pretty late in the season for adventitious buds to form, so I wouldn’t bother with the sealant.

It"s tough, but can be done.


#8

Yeah I prune in early spring, last week was a huge harvest of pluots and I’m still 3 weeks away from Indian free being ripe. It must set terminal buds before harvest.
I just harvested nectarines last week, Spice Zee, huge and delicious. They grow nice and clean here. My wife’s favorite stone fruit.
Anyway the harvests are so late pruning after harvest is out. I do prune my early types.


#9

I late summer prune all peaches and nects, but never plums
or pluots. Since all of my peaches are now on Guardian, I don’t
have to worry so much about PTSL disease. All of mine have already
started to leaf out and forming new branches. I’ll clean them up before
bud break. Plums and pluots get pruned and cleaned up in winter.


#10

@rayrose

PTSL disease…
???


#11

Peach Tree Short Life disease. It’s mostly found in the South
and is promoted by major summer pruning, but Guardian root
stock is supposed to be immune to it.