Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Peaches – what a haul

This is one of those years when we are reminded what peaches can really do. We only see peach fruit production like this in maybe one year out of five on the Front Range.

Because we don’t see peach fruit every year due to blossoms freezing in the spring, people may not know how to handle or prune trees. Excessive fruit loads will commonly break limbs in heavy bearing years. Propping up limbs (photo right) is a poor solution because limbs rub and damage bark when moved in the wind.

Preventing broken limbs goes back to June with fruit thinning, removing excess fruit when they are thumbnail size to leave only one fruit every six inches on limbs. This is what commercial peach growers commonly do and results in larger and sweeter fruit (fewer “packages” for the tree to sweeten up).

What can you do when limbs break? Not much, unfortunately but use a pruning saw to remove jagged edges and smooth the branch tear on trees. Basic pruning to wide angled scaffold limbs helps. Limbs at wide angles to the main trunk are much stronger than narrow angles.

As for fruiting wood, peaches produce only on one year-old twigs. The branches producing fruit this year should be removed in winter. Peaches are pruned hard removing the older, thicker branches to leave productive, young twigs (this year’s growth). Trees that aren’t pruned rapidly become dense and produce poorly. Light reaching producing branches is necessary to grow fruit.

For more details on peach pruning, see this post. Mark your mental calendar now to prune this winter!

Photo credit: Weighted down peach branch, Propped branch, Loaded peach tree – all Carl Wilson

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