Water and Peach Ripening

Can anyone guess how much faster peaches ripen after watering? I need to accelerate the ripening of one row of peaches so they will be ready to pick on Saturday. Without the water they will be almost ripe, but it has been unusually dry this year and I have been running my drip 7X24. Because its so dry, I have a lot of things that need water. The trees look great, and if the water will not ripen the peaches faster, I need to put it on something else. The variety in question is FlamePrince - my last peach of the season. I have 2 one GPH emitters on each tree so I could but 16 gallons of water on each tree in about 8 hours.

Water probably won’t have any effect on ripening over the last few days. It can over longer periods on some stone fruit. I’ve see 4-6 weeks delay in ripening of pluots in a few cases caused by long term water deficit. The fruit is firmer, sweeter, smaller, and hangs on the tree very well. Seeing it right now on Burgundy plum. The high water fruit ripened more than a month ago. But another tree still has firm very sweet fruit hanging on.

You’re in the window for Flame price to ripen and you’ll probably receive rain this week,
so I don’t think it really matters. Furthermore, it’s virtually impossible to force a tree to
ripen, when you want it to.


Hope you are right about the rain. Some rain would be nice! 70% chance for Tuesday. Over the past 4 months, I got less than 3 inches. Many folks in adjacent areas got pop up thunderstorms but they missed me. Its been a struggle to take a well designed to support my house and use it to keep everything watered (roughly 5 acres). If it does not rain on Tuesday, I’m going to give each tree about 25 gallons - 12 hours of drip. When we have a major drought like the one we are in now, we are forced to choose which crops should receive the most water. If the income from the farm continues to improve, we are going to drill another well.

I:know what you mean. I’m primarily a dry farmer of trees relying on rain but I also have about 150 nursery trees in 15-25 gallon pots which do require supplementary water when it goes a week or two without rain. I’m always juggling who gets the water between the veg garden, potted tree nursery, and ornamentals. If I miscalculate my wife may not have enough water to shower and the repercussions can be serious- and I’m not talking about off scents.

I also dream of a supplementary well and could afford to have one drilled but I’m too “penny wise” to get it done.

I feel your pain. I’ve had less than 3 inches of rain all summer. It rains all around me,
but not at my house. I water just to keep things alive, and I’m on city water, so you can
imagine my water bill. You can water all you want to, but it just isn’t the same thing as

Ya this dry country is awful. 45 yrs growing fruit and I’ve never seen brown rot on even one piece of fruit. Nor one tree infected with fire blight, etc, etc. Then there’s the improvement in fruit quality but you guys don’t want to hear that talk. :wink:

Something to be said about napping during a heavy summer downpour, and that smell after it rains in the afternoon.

I agree Moley. I also think serious gardeners just like the general affect of rain during the growing season- the plants seem grateful and immediately look more healthy after a nice soaker. I fight all the consequences of gardening in the humid region but none of the pain is as bad as being in severe drought and not knowing when it will end.

I miss my CA boyhood home but never consider returning. Maybe I would if it was still the same place, but nothing ever is- especially anything in CA.


What seems unfortunate to me is the millions of people in CA who live in great fruit growing areas while having no interest in growing fruit. And many are there only because it’s a great welfare state. What a waste of the most beautiful area of the country.

Meanwhile millions of fruit enthusiasts struggle with lousy climate in the rest of the country.

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Steve, I’m in the same area as Ray, where we’ve spent the whole summer at around 100 degrees and rare precipitation this year. Yes, the fruit was sweet and flavorful. Brown rot still existed. I’m attributing that to high humidity and dew points.

My watering was devoted to the veggie garden, first year trees, the many containers, brambles and strawberries. Older fruit trees were watered only when it was needed to keep them alive. Ornamentals were sacrificed. I would never even consider watering grass. I’m also on city water with out-of-city (higher) rates, and have to frequently add water to our pool. (The pool is a necessity more than a luxury. It provides therapy for our daughter.)

The only trees I seem to get summer growth on are citrus which are in containers in cooler shaded areas and well watered.

The only tree fruit left for me to harvest are a single remaining pear that is too high up for me to pick without some spotters to catch me or scrape me off the pavement, and a few straggling figs scattered in the canopy.

A storm is going through right now, and there is decent chance of rain throughout the week. It’s as though it was on a timer to wait until all my harvesting was in.


The CA climate is great for fruit and vegetable growing only with the addition of massive amounts of water. But lookout! The floor of the Central Valley is actually falling, as more wells are drilled and more water is pumped to keep crops growing in very dry area. In the meantime the water level in Lake Meade which is the largest water reservoir in that part of the country has fallen over 150 feet. Parts of perfect fruit growing areas of Wenatchee Washington have burned during recent wildfires. A very scary picture!

I hear a lot of talk about sustainable agriculture, especially from the organic folks, but I don’t hear a lot of discussion about the sustainability of a food production model that requires huge amounts of water to be introduced into a very dry climate. From my perspective, small amounts of pesticides which are required to grow quality fruit in my area are a lot more sustainable than forcing a very low rainfall area into production like the present system. As a result, a big shift in the geography of fruit and vegetable production is inevitable. I’m betting some of it is headed for a hot/humid climate like mine in NC. I can almost smell the money.

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Commercial production is a lot different question than home grower.

I really don’t think NC will see a big increase in fruit growing anytime soon. There are too many production issues in that area. It’s more likely to be made up from imports if and when that becomes necessary.

BBT, that is an interesting point. The ecological consequences of taking that water from it’s natural outlets have to be huge compared to growing where the water already is. Think of all that is involved, including construction and maintenance of canals and reservoirs along with the direct consequences of interrupting rivers and it is mind boggling. That is a very large idea that I’ve never heard expressed elsewhere.

I’m feeling terribly virtuous all of a sudden. Ecoman with a license to spray!

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We are the ecological growers of the future with a pesticide license too!

Thanks for the belly laugh, Alan. Your sense of humor usually catches me unexpectedly, and makes your point very well.

Our weather in the East does tend to be much more variable from year to year than in the CA valleys. That makes large to huge commercial production less predictable.

I consider where I am to be an interesting growing area. I describe it as an area where you can “try” to grow almost anything, and probably eventually find a way to do it successfully, even if it’s only on a small scale.

Personally, I’m still hard at work on the “trying” phase, but am more and more working my way into the “successful” phase. After that will come improving on the success.


I was speaking generally about commercial production, but back yard production of fruit and vegetables in an arid climate requires water also. The water has to come from somewhere. Mulch and other water conservation measures in a back yard setting help a lot, but rain barrels only work when it rains. As far as commercial production - NC already ranks in the top 10 nationally in Apple, Blueberry and Peaches (7,7,9). Number 1 in Sweet Potatoes, processing cucumbers and tobacco. A lot of research money and time is being spent in this state to develop alternatives to tobacco and many of the alternatives involve the production of some type of food crop, like small scale commercial production for the local market. A small cut in production in the central valley of California would present a chance for other areas of this country to fill that void along with the imports you mentioned. Any movement toward more local food production for local consumption would be a big plus.

I generally agree with your take. But it’s difficult to make money on small or large operations in a difficult climate. The small operations generally need value added products to make a profit. It’s very hard to make money just selling fruit. I think Olpea would agree with that. Large operations need consistently high yields. I’d suspect that CA yields on stone fruits would be 150-200% those in NC. That would be due to spring freezes, shorter tree life in NC, less sunshine, and various production issues. I know CA varieties have a substantial advantage in fruit quality and probably yield. In a large operation one or two crop failures can put you out of business.

Another very important advantage for CA is a two month longer stone fruit harvest season. Plus they have all the infrastructure. Unless it quits raining all together in CA they will continue to smother lesser growing areas. The acreage of stone fruit in CA is probably 10% that of nut crops mainly almonds. That’s the real water user among tree crops. Then there’s the huge dairies and crops for all those cows. They also grow large acreages of field crops like cotton. Move all the later out of state. Cotton and cows do great in TX but not stone fruit or almonds.

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You are right. NC was a much larger producer of Peaches 30 years ago, but several hard freezes in a row put a lot of the large growers out of business. As a result, most of the NC peach breeding research was directed at developing variety with very high chill hours to help the trees from blooming during a warm spell. Contender at 1050 chill hours is one of those peaches. Peach Tree Short Life Disease is a big problem in the sandhills area of NC where a lot of commercial peaches are grown. Not sure if CA has this same problem, but expected yields here are pretty good - about 4 BU/tree on the mid/late variety. I averaged over 1 BU/tree on the peaches I cropped for the first time this year and I expect to double it next year. The main constraint to making money on any type of small farm is selling most of what you grow at a fair price. Growing the produce is a lot easier than selling it for a fair price. We find it tough to sell an acre of any one crop for a fair price, even with over 1M people within 30 miles of our farm.

Amen to that!! I sell mine for half what it’s worth. Fortunately I don’t rely on that for a living. Anyone who tries it for profit has my respect!!!