How to Prune Peach Trees

Fruits and Berries
Peach Tree Pruning

Peach trees are great: they provide amazing, tasty fruit, and they look beautiful in any garden. It is not surprise that so many people want to grow peach trees in their back yards or gardens. However, in order to maximize the harvest and to have all those tasty fruits, it is important to take a proper care of your peach trees.

One of the essential care steps is regular pruning. You have to prune peach trees every year. This will encourage the trees to give more fruits, and it will also make the tree itself stronger and vigorous. It is important to know how and when to prune peach trees for the best results.

Why Prune Peach Trees at All?

You may wonder if you have to prune peach trees. Many of them seem to be growing easily without any trimming. However, keep in mind that the harvest from a peach tree is directly dependent on the pruning. Regular annual pruning will ensure that your trees grow strong and to produce optimal number of fruits.

Of course, pruning regime should be coupled with other things, such as proper fertilization, regular watering and effective pest management. However, never forget to prune, even if your peach tree looks perfectly healthy.

If you leave if unpruned, peach trees can quickly become weak and susceptible to pests and diseases. Not pruning can also shorten the life of your peach tree. Another problem that can happen if the tree is not trimmed regularly is overproduction of fruit. This may sound good, but it is not the best situation, since fruits tend to be smaller and weaker on a tree that is overproduced.

You should prune peach trees to make them stronger. Regular pruning will create a strong framework for your tree that can support larger fruits. It will also create a good balance between fruit production and green growth.

Another reason for pruning is to regulate the height and spread of your peach tree. This creates a visually more attractive tree, but it also provides practical benefits, because it ensures easier harvest.

Finally, you should prune to remove any damaged, broken or diseased branches, sprouts and suckers. Regular trimming opens up the canopy of the tree and allows better and easier light and air circulation.

Tips to Prune Peach Trees Effectively

Here are some essential tips on how to prune peach trees:

Know when to prune. The first thing you need to know is timing. It is best to prune peach trees in the early spring, before the sap begins running. This will minimize the risk of pest infestation. It is also much easier to prune peach trees in the spring, because there is no foliage. This allows for easier access, and you can see clearly the shape of your tree when there are no leaves. While you do not have to prune in the spring, make sure to avoid pruning in the winter, since trimming will reduce the cold hardiness of your tree.

Understand peach blooming. In order to prune your peach trees properly, you need to understand how they bloom and develop fruit. Peaches bloom and bear fruit on the second year wood. This means that they need to grow properly during the whole spring and summer if you wish to ensure proper harvest in the following year. If you don't prune your tree, the amount of fruiting wood is reduced ach year.

The pruning goal. The goal of pruning a peach tree is to remove old, slow growing shoots that do not bear fruit. At the same time, any pruning and trimming should leave bearing shoots that are one year old. Make sure to prune annually about 40% of the tree. Ideally, you should leave about 18 to 24 inches of the one year old wood on your peach tree.

How to prune peach trees. First, make sure to remove all the roostock suckers and water sprouts from the lower 3 feet of your peach tree. Make sure to also remove all gray, non-fruiting shoots and branches, while leaving all the reddish shoots (those are one year old ones that can bear fruit). When pruning, make sure to remove all dead, diseased and damaged branches. These must be removed in order to keep your tree healthy. This is the main goal of pruning, but the next step is to shape your peach tree properly.

Tree shaping with pruning. Once you have completed basic pruning, take a look at your tree. In general, peach trees are pruned into a vase or V shape, with 3 to 5 branches forming the vase. These should be spaced as evenly as possible and angled at about 45 degree angle. This is done to leave the center of the tree open to air and sunlight. You should also top off all the branches at a height that you can easily reach. This will make for easier harvest of the fruit in the following year. You should select the 3 to 5 main branches that you wish to keep and remove all other large branches. When choosing, remove any branches that grow down, inward or horizontal. Also, remove any shoots and branches that are pencil-sized and those that are not growing up. After all of this, you should be left with the reddish, one year old fruiting shoots. To complete the pruning, you should cut them down to about 18 to 24 inches at an outward facing bud. This is the last step in the pruning process and you should be able to enjoy bountiful harvest and all those tasty peaches in the following year.

Photo credit: A_Peach

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