Pruning fruit trees such as peach trees must be done annually, as this technique facilitates proper air movement and penetration of sunlight, which can enhance the color and quality of the fruit. When peach twigs receive too much shading, this can eventually cause the twig to die during one of the growing seasons. Soon, there will be no more twigs left in the lower part of the peach tree that can bear fruits.
The Basics in Pruning Peach Trees
There are basic steps that you can perform in pruning your peach tree. One of these involve cutting out the water sprouts or upright growths as these prevent sunlight penetration to the lower branches. Be sure to prune these parts all the way down to the branches where they have originated to allow air and sunlight to enter all parts of the tree, which helps ensure its abundant growth.
You may also prune out diseased or dry wood, usually grayish in color. These woods are generally brittle, so it is quite easy to remove them by hand. Make it a point to remove remaining old fruits that are still left hanging on the tree.
Lastly, prune all crossing limbs, since fruits grown on these parts tend to rub on the other branches surrounding them. Soon enough this can lead to disease issues, which can affect the quality of the fruit. Moreover, crossing limbs only shade each other, so this can result to more diseased and dead wood that you will have to cut out during the next season.
Why Should You Prune Peach Trees
Although peach trees are plagued by a wide variety of pests and diseases, they still remain as the least difficult types of fruit trees to grow and maintain. To keep the tree in excellent shape, it is best to prune it once a year. Annual pruning can keep the tree productive, healthy and easier to maintain, which makes this routine an important task that you should never neglect to do.
There are several other reasons why pruning peach trees is very important. For instance, this maintenance technique allows you to remove non-fruiting, damaged, diseased and older branches. By pruning your tree, you can also keep it within your preferred height, which makes pest control and harvesting more convenient for you.
Right Time to Start Pruning
Peach trees require pruning at a different time, unlike other fruit-bearing plants. In fact, you should avoid pruning while the tree is still dormant. Once your prune your peach tree in winter or during the cold weather, this can cause the tree to die or become less resistant to the low temperatures.
With that in mind, it is best to prune the tree when you begin to see some pinkish buds coming out and starting to swell. Furthermore, pruning a little bit later during the season is always a better option than when you prune at an earlier time.
Once peach trees reach one year old, they will begin to bear fruits. Thus, you can prune much of the twigs, or at least 40 percent of the entire tree every year. By doing so, you can promote new growths that will maintain the number of fruiting branches.
Generally, you should remove gray or old shoots that would no longer produce any fruit. On the other hand, make it a point to leave out shoots about one year old. You can tell which shoots you need to leave out by looking for buds that are pinkish in color.
The following are some tips that can help you prune your peach tree properly.
- Prune the tree into a vase-like shape by keeping 3 to 5 main branches with ample spacing that form the base instead of having just a single central trunk. Make sure that these main branches are kept upward and angled out by about 45 degrees. This way, the center portion of the tree remains exposed to air and sunlight.
- Cut out any diseased or dead branches as fruits only grow on new sprouts.
- If you wish to maintain a harvestable height for your peach tree, you may cut the heighest parts of the tree. This should enable you to reach the fruits conveniently once they begin to appear.
- Decide on the main branches that you wish to keep, and get rid of larger branches. In particular, branches that are found in the center of the tree, or those that sprout upward, horizontally, or downward may be pruned.
- Remove branches that grow towards the tree’s interior parts, as well as very thin or spindly branches.
- If you see some reddish shoots, cut these to at least 18 inches in length.
- Finally, prune the suckers, which are found at the tree’s base part. You may either use a cutting tool to remove these, or you may cut them off by hand if they are soft and small enough.
In case your peach tree is already overgrown, you may remove the entire branch. This is also ideal to do when you do not see any new growths on the tall branch, since these are unlikely to produce fruits, anyway. As you prune regularly, you can be sure that there are plenty of new growths on the lower part of the tree.
If there are very few main branches that grow in an upward curving direction, look for at least one branch with a new growth. Ideally, this part should be growing in a favorable direction, and you can simply cut it back to encourage new growths. Once the next season comes, this part may grow out as a main branch.
At any time you prefer, you can always get rid of shoots that are growing in the tree’s central portion. You may either cut these off during spring or summer.
Pruning is a special technique that allows you to keep your tree healthy and capable of producing fine quality fruits.So, be sure to apply these simple steps in pruning your peach tree, so you can ensure the tree’s good condition at any time of the year.