Here at Kimmel Orchard we are known for our delicious apples in the fall, but come late July to mid-August we also have some of the tastiest and juiciest peaches grown in the area. Although we do not grow the same amount of peach trees as we do apple trees, we will still annually prune our peaches. I like to prune our peach trees last out of all the trees. I believe this is what is best for the trees. There are many reasons why you want to prune your peach trees such as: development of a strong frame work and maintain an open canopy, adjust tree height and width, and adjust the crop load before spring thinning. In today’s blog I will be writing about how we like to prune our peach trees.
Pruning of Peach Trees
The youngest peach trees we have here at the orchard are 5 years old, so today this blog will be talking about pruning mature peach trees. When we first approach a tree I like to observe it and make sure that the scaffold branches are in good health. What I mean by that is check for any split wood or breaks. This could be a result of a heavy crop load on that limb from the previous year. You will want to remove that branch if it is broken. After that, I will make sure there are no suckers at the base of the tree. If there is any suckers, we will need to remove those.
Next, we will remove any vertical water-sprouts that have developed in the center of the canopy. Water-sprouts develop from dormant buds in the bark of a limb. The main reason for removal of these limbs are because they are usually very thick and the weight of any fruit on the limb will not be enough to bend the branch and you will end up with additional shade for your scaffold branches. After this stage is completed we will then remove any shoots on the bottom side of the branches. This helps prevent additional weight on the scaffolds from the fruit growing on these downward branches and also helps prevent the branches from breaking.
5 year old peach tree, yet to be pruned.
Removing upward growth in the middle of the canopy.
Closer view after upward growth is cut out.
Cleaning up the downward growth and pruning the fruiting wood.
Open canopy in the middle (bowl shape).
After these few steps are done we will then focus on the fruiting wood. We want to cut out any fruiting wood that is going downward or less than horizontal. The ideal angle for any fruiting wood is about 45 degrees upward. This will help support the weight of any fruit that grows on that limb. We will also “top” or cut some of the ends of the fruiting wood off. This will thin off some of the fruit buds and will also help strengthen the limb and promote good growth for the next year.
After we have completed the pruning of a peach tree it is easy to stand back and think “wow, we took a lot off of that tree,” but that is normal when pruning peach trees. Once we have completed pruning all of the peach trees here we will then chip all of the branches and limbs that we cut off. From start to end of peach pruning will take us about a week and a half. (that is if the weather cooperates!)
Oh, and we thought we would tease you with a picture of peaches while we anxiously wait for late July. 🙂