The Q&A Archives: fruit trees

Question: Is it too late to prune my peach tree, it has leaves but no blossoms? How would I do that? The tree is 3 years old and I have had great numbers of peaches for 2 years, but they are big and bring the branches down.

Answer: Peaches are usually pruned in late winter but you can prune yours right up until the pink bud stage. Or, you can simply thin out the fruit once it has begun to develop so that your tree doesn't produce so many large fruits. It's important to train a peach tree while it is young so it develops sturdy limbs which can hold the fruits without bending down or breaking the limbs. The main idea in pruning is to remove old, gray-colored, slow-growing shoots, which are non-fruitful. However, leave one-year-old, 18- to 24-inch red bearing shoots. Removing 40 percent of the tree annually stimulates new growth each spring. The second objective of pruning is to lower the fruiting zone to a height that makes hand harvesting from the ground possible. A third objective is to open the center of the tree; this increases air circulation, reduces disease pressure, and allows sunlight into the tree to accelerate fruit color. Your local cooperative extension office should have a publication on peach tree pruning which will provide additional details and sketches or line drawings to guide you through the process.

Best wishes with your peach tree!

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