The Q&A Archives: moving a peach tree and preventing brown rot

Question: I live in a very dense clay type of soil area with a lot slate type material underneath and lots of boulders and rocks all around. In some spots, the slate starts only 1foot down and others I have about 3 feet but most of it is on a hill. A few years ago, I planted 2 peach trees on a hill side and one stayed exactly the same height about 5 feet and produces some early peaches but I believe it is not growing any more due to hitting the hard slate so I think I will move it. When is the best time and what if I accidentally cut some of the roots? The second tree placed higher on the hill has that oozing sap and fissures every year and the peaches, very abundant do not ripen until late summer or fall and end up with brown rot spots going into the interior of the fruit. I tried to pick them earlier so that it would ripen on my porch but then they get all mushy. If left on the tree, half the fruit is rotten and also has oozing of juice and sometimes a little white grub inside. I don't want to use any harsh chemicals as we have a well and septic tank, live in a rural area, mountainous, with lots of rocks so prefer a natural remedy. This second tree is at least 15-20 feet high and I really can't move it as most of the dirt elsewhere is worse-either rock hard and dry clay or soggy wet, clingy and has terrible drainage. I have yet to enjoy a good peach and all are only the size of golf balls or slightly larger. I know that the tree roots probably can't go very deep before hitting slate and hardrt clay so I did put in some good dirt all aroundand fertilizer. Should I dig further out to allow the roots to find nutrients horizontally rather then vertically down as I can't get through too far down digging and then it is impossible to go further. I get thousands of blossoms each year and the tree bends down with the load but have yet to be able to even get enough good peaches to make one pie let alone eat any. Should I forget peaches or plant a different kind? I think these are Elberta trees.
Sylvia from northeast TN

Answer: I would move the trees (try not to sever too many roots in the process). Peach trees need well-draining soil so amending the planting area (not just the planting hole) will help the roots become established. You might be surprised how adaptable the root systems can be if they receive adequate water and annual fertilizing. Make sure your trees are getting all day sunshine to help them blossom and set fruit. As your trees become established and more mature, they should set more fruit.

There are two major problems peach trees face in your gardening region - brown rot and plum curlico. I suspect the worms you've found are from plum curlico. Brown rot is a fungal disease and you can help your tree avoid becoming infected by spraying with Captan (be sure to read and follow the label directions -timing is important) and you can control insect damage by spraying with Endosulphan (Thiodan). Again, read and follow label directions.

Best wishes with your peach trees!

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