Trouble with peach pruning

A annual constantly recurring question i’ am struggling with the height of my peach and nectarine trees, the intention is to keep them small. 7 ft. It simplified the spray program.
Found this picture on web, what are you opinions?
is this method suitable for my purpose? or is shown method too drastic?
Please help me out of this confusion.


This photo does not tell us what stage of development is this orchard. In that respect this photo is unhelpful.

A while back Olpea uploaded a video of his pruning practice.


That is not very helpful, IMO. Way, way too many branches. You only want to develop 3 or 4 scaffolds right from the get go by most schemes.

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This guy looks like pruning a hedge…?

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Not sure about the age of these trees or the standard practice for your area. In my area the peaches are pruned to 4 scaffolds which originate about knee high. The scaffolds are pruned so all the fruit can be picked from the ground. This process is demonstrated in a series of video by Mike Parker from NC State. Below is the video for pruning a 2 year tree:


I follow olpea method, kept a 5year old tree about that height. So easy to prune but easy for racoon too

If you have raccoon and/or squirrel issues it may be best to leave 4’ of straight trunk preceding scaffolds so you can build baffles. Or put an electric fence around your orchard so you can have low growing trees and harvest the fruit as well.

The challenge I am having is keeping my peach trees from growing wider every year, the video above and about all the pro’s say to prune to an outward growing bud which will naturally make the tree wider over time. My peach trees are at about 9 foot spacing and are already close to touching after year 3.

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Peaches are sometimes spaced closer together in a high density environment and are pruned to just 2 scaffolds rather than 4 like in Dr Parker video. Someone here may have an idea on how to manage your trees on a 9 foot spacing. One unpleasant idea would be to cut out every other tree in the row, making the spacing 18 feet. I only use about 1/2 of the fertilizer recommended, but my trees are very vigorous, almost too much. My spacing is 18 feet between the trees, and I’m going to have to prune them hard this year (year4) to keep them under control.

Looks like backyard orchard culture to me:

Works great, give it a try!

Same trouble here…so far I just cut them back. My oldest tree is 5 years and looks like crap (It is my learning tree,lol), I need to learning renewal pruning next and how to get fruiting wood back on the lower bigger branches.

My nectarine and nectaplum are on Citation and they are growing slooooowly. The branches are so weak they can barely stay straight under the weight of the leaves. They both are growing horizontally for the most part. So much so that I’ve resorted to pruning above buds facing north!

With peaches and nectarines, wood deprived of light tends to become permanently devoid of new buds and purely structural. The pictures of training them like some kind of boxwood surely could work in CA where the sun is intense and humidity low. Your crop would just all be on the outside of the tree, which is fine if you keep the trees real small.

In the humid regions (areas with ample summer rain) I believe it to be a poor way to achieve high quality fruit because the combination of aggressive pruning and regular precipitation makes trees excessively vegetative and encourages bland fruit, at least with peaches and nectarines.

Peach trees need to be kept open enough to let the sun in throughout the tree throughout the growing season. This is increasingly important where substantial light is blocked some of the day by nearby structures and/or trees which is typical in home orchard sites.

You need to get vigorous new shoots all along the scaffolds emanating from the scaffold wood itself every season and excessive shade keeps this from happening. This is why it is a good idea to remove the most vigorous shoots with summer pruning in young healthy trees.

Many varieties of nectarines are less vigorous than typical peaches, so in anything less than optimum conditions seedling or full sized rootstocks may be a better option. Peaches and nectarines life spans are determined by when they lose adequate vigor to generate adequate shoots along their scaffolds-say 12 to 20" shoots directly connected to the big wood of the scaffolds.

I have a 25 year old Madison peach that still manages to do this- some trees are done after 15 years here. I would expect Citation to severely limit the life span of peaches and nectarines because of the less vigor.

Keeping a tree in its allotted space is almost always accomplished by cutting scaffolds back to a smaller lateral within that space.


I was wondering why my 2 nectarine growing on Lovell have less vigor than my peach trees, my nec. trees produce primarily 1 year shoots that are 6-8 inches, my peach trees 1 year shoots are the typical 12+ inch length. All these trees are getting an annual layer of wood chips covering the root system, should nec. trees get a bigger dose of N to produce longer shoots?

I have Arctic Glo and Nectaplum nectarines and they grow more than my peach trees! Both grow a lot more than my peach trees! Of course I only have 2 peach trees,. Not enough trees to make any conclusions.

The nectaplum appears to have some hybrid vigor.

I’ve not noticed any difference in vigor between peaches and nectarines.

Citation is not a good rootstock for nectarines/peaches, but works best
on plums/pluots. It will dwarf nect’s/peaches. That’s why your trees
won’t grow.

9’ spacing is way too close for peaches. My peaches are all grown
on 16’ centers for maximum production and low maintenance. Commercial orchards grow theirs on 18’ centers. You need to move some of your trees, or else you’re going to be constantly pruning and getting limited production.

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Yes, for sure

Yeah I too am not a fan of citation for anything actually, but that is just here, It doesn’t do that well here. having said that I have two citation trees, although I will not buy anymore.

Mine are 8 foot and I’m happy with the spacing. I keep them well pruned, and so far I have lot’s of room between trees on 4th leaf trees.

Someone already experience with the weak grew rootstock VVA-1 on peaches… Cot’s, nectarines?
on this side it looks not favorable, increasingly there are reports that this turns out to be not optimal for peach/nectarine, for renewal, powerful growth is required.

For European plums it’s suitable, not for apricots