Too Much New Growth on Peach Tree

The new shoot growth on my 3 year old peach trees in incredible and is covering many of the peaches. The trees were pruned property before bloom and the fertilizer rate was not excessive, but we had a big freeze during bloom which killed many of the peaches so most of the energy of the tree has gone into production of leaves. With the thick canopy its going to be hard to get the spray to the fruit.

Should I rip out the new shoots in the center of the tree so allow some sunlight?

Should I thin out the new shoots around the outside of the tree to allow more light to get to the peaches


I summer prune. Some research suggests summer pruning reduces fruit size, but if I didn’t summer prune, I’d get dead zones in the lower canopy of the peach trees.


I always summer prune but if you don’t have crop it is absolutely essential. Research about summer pruning reducing size is not very illuminating. It is about leaving the peaches enough leaf to feed them, IMO. Removing growth that is not feeding the peaches probably only helps them- my peaches tend to be larger than what commercial growers around here produce that likely don’t do much summer pruning.

One thing I hate about research is sometimes a little info creates more anxiety than illumination. Exactly what kind of pruning are they talking about and how many leaves per fruit are they leaving? Without that it’s pretty much worthless. except to take as a caution about over pruning.

At least it used to create anxiety for me. Now I know how to take it all in with a grain of salt.

1 Like


I summer pruned last year toward the end of the season, but I cut out more mature wood growing toward the center of the tree with loppers. This year I have a huge amount of new growth, almost too much. Its easy to tear off the new shoot growth in the center of the tree to get more air and light but i’m a little afraid to to it. The info on summer pruning peaches that I can find is not very useful and my extension agent does not know much about peach trees.

1 Like

Is it essential for the peach and plum fruit to have sunlight exposure? The crop I have left after hard spring freeze seems to be on the bottom sides of branches and are totally shaded by new leaf growth. How much if any sun exposure do these fruit need? Thanks, Chris.

Blueberry and Chris,

When we prune peach trees for the upcoming season, we remove what would seem to most people, an insane amount of wood. I really open the trees up. We use loppers to get rid of all that vigorous upright growth. Then, once fruit sets, if there are any shoots not carrying fruit, we pretty much get rid of them.

I like to open the tree up, so the sunlight reaches those lower peaches (where more of the fruit is).

I’ve been pruning my peach trees this way for a number of years and my wife still can’t hardly bear to watch me prune because I remove so much wood.

I made a video a while back about peach thinning. In it, you can see the tree which has been worked on with loppers. I removed a few unproductive shoots. If you watch the video, know that it’s not optimum to thin peaches at the stage I am doing it in the video. Some varieties will abort too much fruit after thinning, so it’s best to wait (or thin much lighter) with those varieties. In order to get through all the trees in time, I can’t wait. I should have mentioned this in the video. This year we had a couple rows which were over-thinned because they were thinned so early. I need to be a bit more careful about that in the future.


@blueberrythrill I summer prune but usually after the fruit is picked.
That new growth helps protect my fruit from thunderstorms with rain so hard it may as well be hail.
My peaches at the top of the trees in full sun sometimes get sunburned and boil inside their skin.
All depends on the year and the weather.
In a wet year if you have too much growth you can have air circulation problems = disease problems.
Also consider those new leaves are feeding your fruit.
Whatever you decide i would suggest leaving one or two trees pruned or unpruned so you can measure any difference.
Good luck with your crop.


Thanks Olpea for the reply and sharing your wisdom. I have watched your video a few times but I reckon I need to watch it again. It is a little confusing to me because the branches that are holding the fruit are mainly the ones shading out the fruit and I do not want to cut off the fruit energy source.


I’m having a bit of trouble understanding that statement. I do cut off lots of wood which would currently produce fruit to open the tree up. My guess is you are probably referring to the local energy source for peaches?

As Alan alludes peaches swell mostly from the leaf energy from the local shoot to which they are affixed. I don’t trim shoots back much which have peaches on them I want to keep, unless they are really long. Shoots feed peaches from the top down so peaches lower get more carbohydrates from the leaves. However, peaches at the very base of the shoots are smaller probably because they don’t have any shoots growing at their point of contact. Peaches which have shoots growing at their point of contact are generally bigger, as long as they are big peachlets early on.

I’ve not experienced much sunburn of peaches which Dave mentions in my climate, but maybe our summer sun isn’t as intense. I do get a few sunburned peaches, but not enough to worry about, even at the top of the canopy where sunlight exposure is maximum. I have experienced sunburn of scaffolds if I do too much summer pruning, so I’m a little careful about that. Our Midwest sun seems intense enough for me. It cooks my skin a grilled brown during the summer :grimacing: :sunglasses:

Nevertheless for early varieties, as Dave suggests, there’s no reason not to wait for harvest to summer prune, which is what I do.

1 Like

Thanks Olpea that explanation was very helpful, I was out doing my 1st summer prune this afternoon and was careful to leave at least a foot of shoot length above where the peaches attached to the shoots. I am thinking to keep the trees at max 6 foot height will probably require 3 summer prunes.

When I thinned the peaches shortly after fruitset, most of the new shoot growth did not exist. Everywhere I made a pruning cut in mid March has now produced a huge amount of new shoot growth, especially where the heading cuts were made to the scaffolds. Some of this new growth is 18 inches tall and is shading everything below it.

I just pruned out a lot of this new growth on about 25 trees and I found many peaches I did not know I had! The Contenter variety with the largest fruit set has the smallest amount of new shoot growth like you would expect. Rich May does not have a lot of peaches but the new shoot growth is almost overwhelming.

I expect it will take another season or two to develop a better understanding of how peach trees grow. We had a 23 degree night during bloom and I’m happy and surprised I have any fruit at all. Contenter required a huge amount of thinning.

Growing tree fruit is hard! After growing Blueberry and Blackberry for a good while I hoped to transfer my basic knowledge about irrigation, pest control, and pruning to tree fruit. So far Apples and Peaches have been a very expensive education, but after 3 years its getting a little bit easier.


@blueberrythrill I agree peaches are strange beasts. I come from Cherries and Apples this didn’t help much.

Check out this photo from last year how hard they pruned these peaches after the freeze to set up a crop for the next year.


I don’t cut current season growth off until I summer prune a few months away. Right now the only reason I would cut current season growth is if it was attached to older growth I wanted to get rid of.

I agree peaches require a different kind of care compared to most fruits. One nice thing about peaches is that they are generally more vigorous than other trees and so easier to correct mistakes in some cases.

I agree Rich May puts on a lot of shoot growth. My Rich May trees didn’t set a lot of fruit, so I waited for quite a while to thin those trees. We really ended up thinning very little on them. Instead we just pruned out what I call 'naked wood" (wood with no fruit on it.) Rich May tends to want to grow straight up (Earlystar does the same thing.)

1 Like

Youtube can’t find the video, can you please post the link again.

Dang, I must have deleted that video along the way. I can’t find it. I don’t value my videos very much. I think I look like a goofball most of the time in my videos, so I have deleted some on a whim. Sorry about that.

1 Like

NP :slight_smile: could you please link your channel so that I can subscribe.

Here it is. It only has 4 videos right now. And only one subscriber. With your subscription, it will increase my subscribers by 100%! I’m feeling really good about the growth rate :grinning:


Nice pruning video. You really flatten out that peach tree. And you looked nice doing it…!! Nothing goofy going on there. Plus I subscribed.


Thank you!!! watching the peach pruning video.

1 Like

Hey Mark, I have what is probably a dumb question.

I am pruning some peach trees now (mid-July) that haven’t been pruned at all in 2023.
Some of these are young trees on which I am choosing permanent scaffolds. Some are older trees that I am pruning to maintain shape and open center.

I am removing shoots growing straight up or down, and those crowding into the center.

Is there any reason I should prune back the current growth if it has good placement? I don’t know how to word this… is there a certain length on current growth you want to maintain, but not exceed? If new growth is over 2’ or 3’ etc., would you head it back to maintain a more compact growth?

Do you try adhere to the ‘prune no more than 1/3’ of the tree at any given time, or is that more for pome fruits than peaches?

When choosing scaffolds, I am taking off quite a lot growth. In some cases, maybe 1/2 of the tree’s biomass will be removed. I tend to prune heavy when I finally get around to it, and wonder if I am removing too much.