Planting Peach Trees

Successfully establishing a young peach tree starts with your planting site and method. Once a peach tree is well established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit. Here’s how to make give your trees a strong foundation.

NOTE: This is part 4 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow peach trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Peach trees require fertile, balanced soil for good growth, so before you plant, test the soil where your trees will live — including the soil pH. Refer to the section on Soil Preparation for tips on testing your soil.

If the soil pH where you plan to plant your tree is between 6.0 and 7.0, you’re in good shape — this is an ideal range for peach trees. Take a look at the established trees and plants around the site. Do they look healthy? Are they growing well? This will help give you an idea of the success you can expect with new plantings in the same area. Remember to steer clear of heavy clay soil or any soil that is poorly drained.

Peach trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool, especially if they arrive bare-root and dormant. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Do not expose roots to temperatures that are freezing or below. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

Planting Bare-Root Peach Trees

  • Before planting: soak the bare-root peach tree’s roots in a bucket or large tub of water for 1 to 2 hours. This keep the roots from drying out while you dig the planting hole. Avoid soaking roots for more than 6 hours. Remember: do not expose roots to freezing temperatures (or below) prior to planting.

  • Dig the planting hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily spread and grow. Keep the more nutritious topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it will do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix aged/rotted manure, garden compost, coir or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. The peat moss you get should either be baled sphagnum or granular peat. Note: Peat has a low pH, so if you use this rather than neutral coir, it may affect the soil pH around the roots. Coir, like our Coco-Fiber Growing Medium, can be added instead of peat — or just work in 2 or more inches of organic material with the existing soil.
  • Place the peach tree in the center of the planting hole with its roots down and spread out. Holding onto the trunk to keep it vertical, backfill the hole, putting the topsoil back in first. Important: keep the graft union (the noticeable “bump” in the lower trunk) 2-3 inches above the ground for dwarf and columnar types. For standard-size peach trees, situate the bud union 1 to 2 inches below the soil line. Read more about Planting Budded and Grafted Peach Trees below.
  • Fill in the soil carefully around the roots, tamping it down firmly as you refill the planting hole. This will eliminate air pockets that may cause the tree to be loose in its planting hole.
  • Especially if you’re planting on a slope, create a rim of soil around the planting hole about 2 inches above ground level. This is called a “berm” and it works to catch water so that it can soak in, rather than run off and cause soil erosion. Spread the soil evenly around tree.
  • Read more about Digging a Planting Hole and Planting Bare-Root Fruit Trees.

Planting Potted Peach Trees

Peach trees that are grown and shipped in our Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pots are a result of our continuing quest for better and stronger trees. By following these simple instructions, you’ll be assured of getting your new potted peach tree off to the best possible start.

  • Before planting: When your peach tree arrives, carefully take it out of the package. Your potted tree has been watered prior to shipment and should arrive with damp soil around the roots; however, it does need another drink when it arrives at your home. Be sure the water reaches all of the roots, all the way to the bottom of the container. If you can’t plant your tree immediately, keep the roots hydrated and keep the tree in a sheltered location until you’re able to plant. Do not place your potted peach tree in a bucket of water. This could cause the roots to rot and weaken, or even drown your peach tree.
  • Your potted peach tree is ready for planting as soon as it arrives. To remove the tree from its temporary container, simply grasp the sides of the pot and carefully slide the tree out. If the tree’s roots do not easily slide out of the container, you may need to gently pry the inside edges of the container away from the root system, and loosen it until the roots slide freely from the pot.

Note: do not plant the plastic Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pot in the ground. It is not intended to break down over time as your peach tree grows, and it will cause root restriction, injury, or may even be fatal to the tree. The pot your tree arrives in is intended to be a temporary container only.

  • While some potting soil might shake loose, most of it should remain around the peach tree’s roots. Gently separate, untangle, and spread out the tree’s roots and place it, soil and all, into the prepared planting hole. Backfill the hole with topsoil, same as you would a bare-root peach tree (see above). Water thoroughly.
  • Your potted peach tree may have come with a bamboo stake, which helped straighten the tree as it grew in its pot. Remove the bamboo stake and replace it with a different tree stake, if you prefer. We recommend that you keep young trees staked when you plant to help keep them growing vertically.

Budded and Grafted Peach Trees

All Stark Bro’s peach trees are either grafted or budded to ensure true-to-name nursery stock. You can see where the fruiting variety on top is joined to the root variety on the bottom by a bump in the lower trunk, by a change in the bark color, or by a slightly offset angle in the tree.

Grafted peach trees need special planting attention. For most peach trees, especially dwarf varieties, it’s very important to keep the graft above the soil level; otherwise, roots could develop from above the graft, and your peach tree could grow to full size by bypassing its dwarfing parts. Budded and grafted peach trees are manually fitted to specially selected clonal rootstocks.
For dwarf and columnar peach trees, the bud union should be planted 2 to 3 inches above the soil line. For ideal anchorage, standard-size peach trees should be planted 1 to 2 inches deeper than the visible soil line made when the trees grew in our nursery rows.


Thoroughly water your newly planted peach tree. A deep soaking with about a gallon of water is ideal. If you plan to fertilize at planting time, you can add a water-soluble product like Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer to your gallon of water and water your peach tree with the solution.

If planting in the fall, wait until spring instead to apply fertilizer. After watering, if soil appears to settle and sinks into the planting hole, just add more soil — enough to fill the hole to ground level again.


Apply 2 to 3 inches of organic material like wood bark (rather than an inorganic material, like rocks) around the root zone of your peach tree. Mulching helps discourage weeds, prevent evaporation, water-pooling and freeze injury around the trunk going into winter. In the fall, double the mulch layer or add a layer of straw for extra winter protection.

Note: Rodents and other small gnawing critters may make a home out of mulch that is applied too thickly. In winter, they could chew the tree’s bark for sustenance — a type of injury that can be fatal, especially to new peach trees.

One final tip: Please be sure to remove the name tag from your peach tree. As the tree grows, this small piece of plastic can choke off its circulation, causing damage like girdling and even death. If you’d like to keep the tag on your tree, retie it loosely with soft twine and be sure to keep it from restricting the tree as it grows.

In This Series

  • Introduction

Getting Started

  • Acclimate
  • Location
  • Planting
  • Soil Preparation

Care & Maintenance

  • Fertilizing
  • Pest & Disease Control
  • Pruning
  • Spraying
  • Watering

Other Topics

  • Harvesting

Peach Tree Care: How To Grow Peaches

If you are growing peach trees, you know that they require lots of sunshine. In fact, they thrive in an area where they can soak up the sunshine throughout the whole day. The care of peach trees is not too difficult. They don’t require much fuss and muss. Keep reading to learn more about peach tree care.

How to Grow Peaches

When thinking about how to plant a peach tree, take a good look at your soil. You should have deep sandy soil that ranges from a loam to a clay loam. Poor drainage in the soil will kill the root system of growing peach trees, so make sure the soil is well drained. Growing peach trees prefer a soil pH of around 6.5.

When it comes to learning how to grow peaches, you need to start out with a healthy one-year-old tree that has an established root system. A small tree that has a good root system is better than a larger tree without

one. When it comes to the care of peach trees, this will definitely help with growing peach trees that are hardy and healthy.

Having a good knowledge of the care of peaches is vital. In order for fruit to grow, you need pollination. Growing peach trees are self-fruitful, which means that pollen from the same flower or variety can pollinate the tree and produce fruit. Because of this, when it comes to how to plant a peach tree, you should know that you only need to plant one. If you are planning on putting peach trees in your backyard, know that one tree will suffice.

How to Plant a Peach Tree

Before you plant your peach tree, you should perform some soil care. Rake and hoe the soil until it is smooth on the surface and free from clumps and rocks. Prepare the soil as deep as you will be planting the tree. Make sure your soil pH is 6.5 and if not, adjust it accordingly.

Peach tree care requires that you soak the roots of the tree for six to twelve hours before you plan on planting it. Dig your hole in the ground large enough for the roots of the tree to spread comfortably within it. This is vital for the care of peach trees. Soak the area completely after planting, and make sure to keep the area around the tree weed free.

After planting, prune the tree back to 26 to 30 inches, cutting off any side branches. This will ensure you have a better crop. If you have more fruit than you imagined show up after blossoming, thin the crop to ensure those left on the tree will produce larger and better tasting fruit.

Now that you know more about peach tree care, you can grow these delicious and lovely fruit in your yard.

Home Garden Peaches


Growing peaches and other fruit trees in Georgia and the southeastern United States is challenging. Peaches are not native to North America; however, many cultivars have been developed for our area, and Georgia has a long history of successful peach production. One must choose the site and the proper cultivar and provide care throughout the year to be successful.

Knowing your Fruit Tree

Grafted peach plant. Photo by Dario Chavez.

Peach trees should be purchased from reputable nurseries to assure healthy trees of the desired cultivar/rootstock combination. The tree is composed of a scion (shoot) of a particular cultivar (i.e. variety) grafted onto a rootstock. This rootstock can be grown from seed or through clonal propagation. Normally, the rootstock has been bred and selected for adaptation and resistance/tolerance against soil pests and diseases for the location. It is important to make sure that you have the best rootstock for your area. The rootstocks currently available are Guardian, MP-29, Halford, and Nemaguard. If you are located in south Georgia, you may find other rootstocks in addition to the ones described above, such as Flordaguard and Sharpe.

The peach tree will change throughout the growing seasons. In the spring, the tree will bear pink flowers. After blooming, the green foliage will emerge. In the summer, ovaries from pollinated flowers will swell forming small fruit. Fruit will continue to mature until ripening. In the fall, the foliage will turn reddish-orange until finally dropping at the end of the fall.

A peach orchard changes depending on the season. Top left: spring. Top right: summer. Bottom left: fall. Bottom right: winter. Photos courtesy of the Georgia Peach Council.

Choosing a Site

Choosing the right place for a fruit tree to grow is very important for overall success. Peach trees require a site with well-drained soil and ample sunlight. Poorly drained soils can lead to poor tree growth and often times tree death. Peach trees need to have sun from 8 to 10 hours per day. This amount of sunlight will assure sufficient photosynthesis and promote tree health and vigor.

Another aspect to think about when choosing the site is the tree size. Peach trees on Sharpe and on MP-29 rootstocks (semi-dwarf) will spread 12-15 feet, while standard trees will be twice the size (such as in Guardian, Halford, and Nemaguard rootstocks).

It is important to protect the trees from winter winds. If the garden is on a slope, the peach trees should be planted on the side of the hill to diminish the effects of the wind and cold.

Preparing the Soil

Test the soil prior to planting, as an adequate adjustment of pH and fertility may be required. This is particularly important because modifying soil pH in deeper profiles is very difficult after planting. Soil testing kits can be obtained from your local UGA Extension office. You can locate the closest county office with the online directory.

Using a soil probe, collect the soil from several different locations at a depth of 6-8″ to obtain a proper soil sample. Mix the soil together in a clean, non-metal container and place 3-4 handfuls of this mix into the bag for the soil test. The soil test results will provide you with a recommendation based on the crop and your soil conditions. Soil pH for peach trees should be between 6 and 6.5.

Planting, Culture, and Fertilization

Ideally, you should preorder your peach trees to obtain the rootstock/scion combination you want from a nursery. Many nurseries will have a catalog with a detailed description for each variety, including the rootstocks that are available. You can ask the nursery to help you identify good varieties that will grow with fewer problems at your location.

One of the main factors to determine if a peach tree is adapted to a location is the chill hours. Each variety has a different chill hour requirement that has to be satisfied to enable normal plant growth and fruiting. A chill hour is the amount of time that the temperature is between 32 degrees F and 45 degrees F. You can find this information using the Georgia Weather System. Within this system, click on the location that is closest to you and look for the link to the chilling hours calculator. To calculate the chilling hours, choose dates from October 1 to February 15. You will then be able to see the historical chill hours within your area, which can be used as thresholds to select the best varieties suited for your location.

The peach trees are usually delivered in late December or at the beginning of January. Peach trees can be planted in December through February, while still dormant. They will either come as potted or bare root plants. Bare root plants will require immediate action. Keep the roots moist and in the shade until planting.

To plant a peach tree, dig a hole twice as wide as the width of the rootball and deep enough so that the tree is at the same depth that it was in the nursery. Gently spread the roots in the hole and cover them with soil. Do not add any compost or soil amendment. Firm the soil around the stem and remember to water the soil thoroughly after finishing.

For optimum future growth, plant your trees about 18 to 20 feet apart. Once the tree starts growing, remove any suckers that arise from below the graft. This can be done with your hands or hand clippers in order to slow or stop them from regrowing.

Weeds should be controlled with hand weeding, using mulch (hay), or very careful application of herbicides. Weeds, especially grasses, will outcompete peach trees for water and nutrients. If you use herbicides, make sure to keep the spray from drifting to the trunks of your young peach trees. One effective way to protect young trees from accidental herbicide injury is to place a paper milk carton over the trunk at planting. The paper milk-carton will degrade over time, but it will provide a good herbicide shield until it begins to disintegrate.

Do not fertilize newly planted, first year, peach trees until March. At that time, apply 1 lb of 10-10-10 fertilizer per tree, broadcasting evenly 4 to 5 inches away from the tree trunk. In May, broadcast 1 lb of calcium nitrate, 6 inches away from the tree trunk. In July, broadcast 1 lb of calcium nitrate over a 6-inch diameter circle.

Second year fertilization starts in March by applying 2 lb of 10-10-10 fertilizer per tree broadcast evenly over a 6 inches diameter circle. In May, broadcast 1.25 lb of calcium nitrate, 6 inches away from the tree trunk. In July, broadcast 1.25 lb of calcium nitrate over a 6-inch diameter circle.

Starting from third year and on, apply similar rates as the second year with a supplemental 0.15-0.25 lb per tree per application adjusted as follows: a postharvest application based on the tree’s terminal growth and a spring application based on the crop load. If the trees do not show any symptoms of deficiency, and tree growth and yield are adequate, just maintain fertilization rates as on year 2. Evaluate and define each year’s fertilization based on these recommendations.

These applications should be modified if a preplant soil testing was done and recommendations were followed, as phosphorus and potassium should not be needed for the first and second years of tree life. For more detailed information view the 2014 Southeastern Peach, Nectarine, and Plum Pest Management and Culture Guide.

Fruit thinning. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Peach Council.

During the winter season, pruning is vital for next year’s crop. It is recommended to keep four scaffold limbs with an open, vase-like center. See suggested pruning techniques for peaches in the UGA Extension publication, “Peach Orchard Establishment and Young Tree Care” (Circular 877).

In order to assure good fruit size, peaches will almost always have to be thinned. Fruit thinning is normally done when the fruit is about 0.7- to 1.0-inch across. Peach trees naturally produce hundreds of fruitlets. To achieve desirable and consistent fruit size, leave a healthy, well shaped fruitlet every 6 to 8 inches. Although it may seem that you are removing most of the crop, thinning will assure a good fruit size and quality crop when ripe.

Insects and Diseases

Peaches are one of the more difficult fruit crops for homeowners to grow in Georgia because they have many diseases and insect pests. It is important to follow a spray regime to protect your fruit and trees. Brown rot disease and the plum curculio insect have the potential to destroy the entire fruit crop without a good management program.

The home orchard section of the annually updated University of Georgia Pest Management Handbook — Homeowner Edition provides recommendations for controlling and preventing diseases and insects of commonly grown home orchard crops such as peaches. The most common problems are:

Insect Pests

Plum curculio. Photo courtesy of Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, borer. Photo courtesy of Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, fruit moth. Photo courtesy of Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, peach scale. Photo courtesy of Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

  • Plum curculio is the key fruit insect pest that attacks peaches in Georgia and adjacent Southeastern states. These small, native weevils (snout-beetles) are found on numerous wild hosts. Plum curculio can cause injury all season long and it is difficult to scout well enough to spray only as needed. In most of Georgia, plum curculio damage is typically most pronounced from petal drop at the end of fall through the end of April. Damage typically picks up again as peaches ripen.
    The peaches often produce gum at the sites of curculio wounds. The larvae mature in the dropped fruit, so prompt removal of any infested fruit from the ground or tree is important. Preventative sprays are the only means of effectively preventing plum curculio damage.
  • Peachtree borer and lesser peachtree borer are caterpillar pests that feed on the inner bark, causing major damage to the tree’s vascular system. Peachtree borers attack the lower trunk and the major roots, while lesser peachtree borers attack the structural wood throughout the tree. Adults lay eggs in the wound areas. Larvae bore into the vascular tissue, impairing the flow of water and nutrients, and ultimately killing the limb or even the entire tree. Late summer application of insecticides can help. Avoid making large pruning cuts that leave excessive wounding.
  • Oriental fruit moth, in the caterpillar stage, attack and tunnel within the stems of succulent new vegetative growth and damage the fruit. Though typically regarded as the most impactful fruit-feeding pest of peaches worldwide, in most of Georgia the Oriental fruit moth is only a minor fruit pest. The caterpillar does modest injury to the terminals of new growth in the spring and again during the annual vegetative growth flush.
  • Scale insects are very small insects that attach to limbs and trunks and can cause tree death. Oil sprays should be applied annually on dormant trees to control scale insects.
  • Mites usually occur in late summer and in dry seasons. Leaves become stippled and in severe cases webbing can be seen on the foliage.


Brown rot. Photo courtesy of Phil Brannen, University of Georgia, Plant Pathology. Bacterial spot. Photo by U. Mazzucchi, Università di Bologna, leaf curl. Photo by Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Peach scab. Photo courtesy of Phil Brannen, University of Georgia, Plant Pathology.

  • Brown rot is caused by a fungus that can infect flowers, shoots, and fruit. It is the most damaging stone fruit disease in terms of fruit loss. It is very difficult to manage in Georgia without fungicides. In most years, 100% of the ripening fruit can be lost to this disease in unsprayed trees. The severity of the disease can vary from year to year depending on the amount of moisture. Removal of all the old fruit at the end of the season and proper pruning during the dormant season will cut back on brown rot infections the following year. Check with your county agent for information on spray programs.
  • Bacterial spot and leaf curl are leaf diseases that may cause problems in certain years or locations or on certain cultivars. Bacterial spot is a sporadic leaf spot disease, which when severe, can cause some defoliation in certain cultivars. Select cultivars that are adapted to the East. Leaf curl is also sporadic in occurrence. Infected leaves become reddish, thickened, twisted, and drop prematurely.
  • Scab is a fruit and twig disease that causes superficial blemishes on the fruit. Sprays for brown rot will also protect against scab.

For more in-depth explanation on the management of peach diseases, insect, and weed problems contact your local Extension office.

Harvesting, Storing, and Consumption

Different cultivars ripen at various times from early May to late August or early September. Harvesting time depends on the final use of the fruit. Normally, peach fruit is harvested when ripe. This is typically when fruit is firm and has a yellow (for yellow flesh peaches) or cream (for white flesh peaches) background color and wonderful aroma. Hard fruit that are not quite ripe can be used for pickling, while over ripened fruit has to be used quickly. There are several ways to preserve peaches once pickled. A good resource on preserving fruit is the UGA Extension family and consumer sciences website where you can find a link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, fact sheets on food preservation, contact information for a family and consumer sciences agent near you, and an order form for the “So Easy Preserve” book.

Recommended Cultivars

Early JuneModerate chill, 600-750 hoursJunegoldYellowMeltingClingstoneResistant

Table 1. Recommended peach varieties grown in Georgia and South Carolina in the order of their harvest period.
Harvest Period Chill Variety Flesh Color Flesh Texture Pit Attachment Bacterial Spot Susceptibility
Late April Low chill, <600 hours Flordadawn* Yellow Melting Clingstone Resistant
Early May Low chill, <600 hours Gulfcrest* Yellow Non-melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Flordacrest* Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Mid May Low chill, <600 hours Flordaking* Yellow Melting Clingstone Resistant
Gulfking* Yellow Non-melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Mid May Moderate chill, 600-750 hours Regal Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Highly Susceptible
Late May Low chill, <600 hours Gulfprince* Yellow Non-melting Clingstone Highly Resistant
Late May Moderate chill, 600-750 hours Springprince Yellow Non-melting Clingstone Moderately Susceptible
Empress Yellow Melting Clingstone Moderately Susceptible
Goldprince Yellow Melting Clingstone Resistant
Late May High chill, 750-900 hours Camden Yellow Melting Clingstone Susceptible
Sunbrite Yellow Melting Clingstone Susceptible
Rubyprince Yellow Melting Clingstone Moderately Susceptible
Harvest Period Chill Variety Flesh Color Flesh Texture Pit Attachment Bacterial Spot Susceptibility
Juneprince Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Southern Pearl Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Early June High chill, 750-900 hours Summerprince Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Garnet Beauty Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Early June Very high chill, > 900 hours Harrow Diamond Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Mid June Moderate chill, 600-750 hours Coronet Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Mid June High chill, 750-900 hours Gala Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Mid June Very high chill, > 900 hours Surecrop Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Late June Moderate chill, 600-750 hours Topaz Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Late June High chill, 750-900 hours Redtop Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Cary Mac Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Harvester Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Fireprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Winblo Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Late June Very high chill, > 900 hours Sureprince Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Harvest Period Chill Variety Flesh Color Flesh Texture Pit Attachment Bacterial Spot Susceptibility
Early July Moderate chill, 600-750 hours La Feliciana Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Early July High chill, 750-900 hours Blazeprince Yellow Melting Freestone Moderately Susceptible
Redglobe Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Julyprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Loring Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Majestic Yellow Melting Freestone Highly Resistant
Bounty Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Scarletprince Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Flamecrest Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Early July Very high chill, > 900 hours Redhaven Yellow Melting Semi-clingstone Resistant
Mid July High chill, 750-900 hours Dixiland Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
White Lady White Melting Freestone Moderately Susceptible
Georgia Belle White Melting Freestone Resistant
Redskin Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Sunprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Elberta Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Ruston Red Yellow Melting Freestone Highly Resistant
Jefferson Yellow Melting Freestone Highly Resistant
Mid July Very high chill, > 900 hours Cresthaven Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Contender Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Late July High chill, 750-900 hours Early Augustprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Fay Elberta Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Late July Very high chill, > 900 hours China Pearl White Melting Freestone Resistant/Susceptible
Harvest Period Chill Variety Flesh Color Flesh Texture Pit Attachment Bacterial Spot Susceptibility
Early August High chill, 750-900 hours Augustprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Flameprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Mid to Late August High chill, 750-900 hours Big Red Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Parade Yellow Melting Freestone Susceptible
Autumnprince Yellow Melting Freestone Resistant
Fairtime Yellow Melting Freestone Highly Susceptible
*Varieties mostly grown in south Georgia. These varieties will bloom very early if grown in middle and north Georgia with a large percentage of crop loss due to freeze damage.

Status and Revision History
Published on Feb 11, 2015
Published with Full Review on May 10, 2018

Peach Tree Harvesting: When And How To Pick Peaches

Peaches are one of the nation’s most beloved rock fruit, but it’s not always easy to know when a peach should be harvested. What are some of the indicators that it is time for picking peach fruit? Another question you may have is how to pick peaches correctly. Read on to find out.

Peach Tree Harvesting

Before even thinking about harvesting peaches, I hope that you have planted and cared for your peach tree correctly for optimal production. First off, when you bring the tree home from the nursery, open the wrapping from around the roots and soak them for 6-12 hours. Then plant your tree in soil that has been pre-prepared, raked to remove stones and debris and with a pH of 6.5. Set the tree at the same depth it was planted at the nursery and work the soil in around the roots. Tamp the soil down to remove air pockets. Water the tree in well.

Mulch around the base of the trunk to aid in water retention and retard weed growth. Peach trees should be pruned with an open center system of pruning, which will allow the sun to penetrate and improve air circulation.

Keep the tree free from disease, insects and birds. Fertilize the peach with 1 cup of a 10-10-10 food in March in a 3-foot area around the tree. In June and early August, broadcast ½ cup of calcium nitrate over the 3-foot area. In the tree’s second year, fertilize peaches twice a year in early March with 1 cup of 10-10-10 per year of tree age. Then at the first of August, apply 1 cup per year of the tree of calcium nitrate.

Now that you have a healthy peach tree, it’s time for the best part, peach tree harvesting.

How to Pick Peaches

The exact time to pick peaches is determined by the cultivar, but generally they are harvested from late June through August. Color is a great indicator of maturity. Peaches are ripe when the ground color of the fruit changes from green to completely yellow. Some of the newer peach varieties have a red tinge to the skin, but this is not a reliable barometer of ripeness.

There is a fine line when harvesting peaches. You want the fruit to hang on the tree long enough for the flavor and sugar content to peak, but not so long that it becomes overripe. Overripe fruit reduces storage time and increases the possibility of disease, insect and bird damage. Also, peaches will ripen in color, juiciness and texture off the tree, but will lack in flavor and sweetness.

The best indicator of the correct time for picking peach fruit is a taste test. Although lesser in flavor, slightly under ripe fruit can be harvested and ripened indoors in a paper bag if there is an immediate need to harvest due to weather. Clingstone or canning varietals are harvested when the fruit slips freely from the stem.

Peaches are not only delicious, but a great source of fiber, niacin, potassium and vitamin C. Once harvested, they will keep in the refrigerator or other cool area (31-32 degrees F./0 degrees C. with a 90 percent humidity) for about two weeks.

3 Signs of a Sweet and Juicy, Ready to Eat Peach

If you shop for fresh peaches at a farmer’s market or even in the produce section of a grocery store, then my guess is that you are probably like me; that is “me” before I started working at Frog Hollow Farm. I would carefully inspect each individual piece of fruit and select those I believed were the sweetest and most ready-to-eat from the rest, only to go home and find out how off the mark I was!

If you get organic fruits delivered direct to your home/office from Frog Hollow Farm, then you’ve already solved 80% of the problem because we only ship the best tree-ripened fruits, anyway. But if you are just a peach-lover who wants to experience a sweet ripe peach with juice running down your chin, then you may find some of the following tips from Frog Hollow Farm owner/farmer Al Courchesne helpful!

There are three main characteristics that would help you identify a sweet, juicy, ready-to-eat peach:

1. Color: This is important because you ought to know what you’re looking for! According to Farmer Al, “the real color you want to look for is the background color of the fruit and not the red, highlight.” The red color is deceptive because our brain is genetically evolved to think that the color red is delicious and sweet. He says, “Plant breeders have bred the color red into a lot of peaches grown around the world nowadays because it helps sell the fruit.” The real color you want to look for is yellow and it should be deep golden, not pale.

2. Touch: You can tell if a peach is ripe or not by a gentle, yet firm squeeze (not hard enough to bruise it) with your fingers. If there’s a little bit of a give there, then it means that the fruit is almost ripe but not quite. I would still leave such a peach on the kitchen counter for another 2-3 days till it is actually soft to very soft.

3. Appearance/Texture of Skin: This is the most telling of all three characteristics. You can tell that a peach is ready to eat by looking for signs of shriveled skin around the stem. When you see wrinkles, that’s the sign of a really excellent peach. I had asked Farmer Al what the shriveling means and he explained that wrinkles develop on the skin when water starts to leave the fruit. “Water evaporates from fruit once it has been picked because the skin is very porous. It will shrivel and dry up and that will intensify the flavors and give you the best peach flavor,” he explained.

Order plump and juicy tree-ripened peaches for delivery direct to your door-step.

So go on and try these steps the next time you buy peaches and drop in a line to let me know if they worked for you. If you have other suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment.

Author: Pearl Driver

Photo Credit: Lucia Lee (On Instagram as @foodminimalist)

When is fruit ready to pick? Nature offers different clues

It takes just a twist of the wrist to determine when pears are ready to come off the tree.

For plums and peaches, flesh firmness is a good way to verify maturity.

Blackberries? Check the color.

Nature offers a wide range of clues about when the time is ripe for harvesting fruit and minimizing losses.

“Tasting may be all that is needed and is the simplest method for determining ripeness,” said Leonard Perry, horticulture professor emeritus at the University of Vermont. “Birds eating your fruit, too, is a good sign they are ripe for the picking. Look under an apple tree. If a few have fallen to the ground already, most are likely ripe.”

Peaches can be picked when they separate easily from the branches. For best flavors, let peaches and apricots mature fully on the tree.

Raspberries and blackberries are prime when the fruit is no longer green and the berries separate easily from the plant.

Mature apples should be firm but yielding. “When you take a bite of an apple, it should be sweet and crisp without any trace of starchiness,” said Teryl Roper, a pomology professor at Utah State University. “Skin color helps to determine maturity but it is not always reliable. Seed color is not a reliable indicator of fruit maturity.”

Some other guidelines for harvesting fruit:

— Be gentle when picking and storing fruit to avoid bruising, which hastens deterioration and mold. “This is particularly important for very soft raspberries, which should only be stored in shallow containers,” Perry said.

— Ripe fruit should have a noticeable aroma.

— Pick early in the day, especially berries. They won’t spoil as readily as those picked in full sun and hotter temperatures.

— Fruit to be dried should first ripen fully. Fruit to be cooked or preserved can be picked when slightly green. Cooking or blending can salvage bruised, damaged or over-ripe fruit.

And then there’s storage, the other vital half of the fresh fruit equation.

“Once a crop is harvested, it is almost impossible to improve its quality,” Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service horticulturists say in a fact sheet. “Losses of horticultural crops due to improper storage and handling can range from 10 to 40 percent.”

The key to successful fruit storage is quick cooling, Roper said: “Pick them and get them cool as quickly as possible.”

In general, fruit should not be washed right after harvest, since that can allow disease-carrying organisms to spread from one fruit to another. But fruit should be washed just before it’s prepared and eaten, Roper said. “Washing is about removing human pathogens,” he said.

Different fruit crops have different storage tolerances. Soft fruits will last only a couple of weeks, while apples and pears can be stored for months.

But be cautious with pears, which will mature on the tree but not ripen, Roper said.

“If pears are left on the tree too long, they turn brown inside,” he said. “Pears need to be harvested, stored for two to four weeks at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then given two to three days of room temperature before they are ready for the best eating experience.”


For more about harvesting and storing fruit, see this fact sheet from University of Vermont Extension:

You can contact Dean Fosdick at [email protected]

Bonfire Patio Peach Tree

The Perfect Container Tree for Juicy Peaches

Why Bonfire Peach Trees?

Because no yard space or garden is no problem when it comes to the Bonfire Patio Peach Tree. It’s aptly named for its ability to produce both amazing visual interest and delicious peaches without taking up much space, especially since it only grows to about 4 or 5 feet in height.

And whether you use the delectable fruit for baking, storing or simple snacking, you’ll be delighted. Despite its small stature, the Bonfire Patio Peach produces sweet, succulent and sizable peaches with plenty of flavor.

Why is Better

Aside from its optimal benefits and conditions for container growing, it’s low-maintenance and hassle-free. A green thumb isn’t required to ensure this tree thrives. Best of all, because we monitor and care for the Bonfire at our nursery, long before it arrives to your door, it’s ready to fruit in its very first year.

We’ve done the extra work, potting, growing and shipping your plant well, so it acclimates to your home immediately. There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh peach, right from home – order yours today!

Planting & Care

Known as Prunus persica Bonfire, the Bonfire Peach Tree performs best in USDA growing zones 5 to 8. These trees are moderate growers, maturing to a manageable mature height that fits in any space.

1. Planting: Plant your tree in well-drained soil in a location that receive full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day). Protect your tree from wind by planting on the sunniest side of a building or your home. Once you’re ready to plant, dig a hole twice the size of the tree’s the root ball and just a little shallower. Use your fingers to separate the roots of your Bonfire and gently position them downward in the hole. Then, hold the tree straight as you begin to backfill the site, tamping down the soil as you go. Finally, water to settle the soil.

If you’re planting in a container, simply ensure that the pot’s size is twice the size of your Bonfire’s shipped container. The new pot should also have plenty of drainage holes. Finally, choose a sunny location on the patio, in your backyard or front or side of your house.

2. Watering: Keep the soil around your Bonfire Patio Peach Tree moist. Watering once a week by leaving a hose at the base of the tree for a couple of hours is sufficient. Once the soil around the tree has dried, water the tree again. During times of extreme heat, your tree may need additional water.

Tip: Yellowing of the leaves is a common sign of overwatering while leaves that are dry and brown can be a sign of underwatering.

3. Fertilizing: Fertilize your tree with a well-balanced fertilizer, such as a 12-12-12 formula. Apply in spring before the tree pushes out new growth. Repeat this in the summer and fall as well.

4. Pruning: Bonfire Peach Trees should only be pruned while the plant is dormant without leaves. That is usually in winter or early spring before the leaf buds open up.

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Bonfire Peach Tree

If you want to stand out from the pack, this sweet “Edible Ornamental” is a great option to take a closer look at. People across the country just love the Bonfire Peach tree (Prunus persica ‘Bonfire’)! In a very small space, you get access to a wonderful patio peach tree with simply outstanding ornamental features.

You’ll love this petite tree all year long. From its lovely form in winter, to the impossibly pink flowers in spring, to its sweet, fuzzy peach orbs to the deliciously deep foliage – this tree has it all!

Bonfire is a very popular ornamental peach tree or deciduous shrub. This valuable plant that can be used in the ground, or an excellent container plant for your patio.

It produces pretty peaches that can be canned or baked into delicious desserts. The fruit is white fleshed with red striations. The flesh turns red when cooked and will add a lovely color contrast to baked goods.

The ornamental qualities of the Bonfire can’t be overstated. In early spring, vibrant blooms burst forth into striking, bright double pink flowers with deep pink centers. The flowers liberally frost the branches in dynamic color. The effect is stunning in any landscape and sure to turn the heads of friends and neighbors.

The ornamental value of the Bonfire Peach continues into the spring and summer. After flowering, the summer foliage emerges with shiny, long, dark red leaves.

Cute little peaches start to develop along the branches. Kids would absolutely love watching this sweet little tree! They’ll eagerly await their turn in the kitchen helping make (and eat!) peach pie or cobbler in late summer or early fall.

Gradually this dramatic foliage turns to a deep burgundy which remains until leaf drop in the fall. Even in winter, the elegant form of this tree captures attention.

Bonfire Peach is a one-of-a-kind peach tree with 4-season appeal, and sure to be a valued addition to your home. Order yours today!

How to Use Bonfire Peach Tree in the Landscape

Use this pretty peach as a lovely companion to other plants in your shrub border or as an accent in a perennial bed. The Bonfire Peach is also an excellent choice as a container plant for your patio.

Or, for the more adventurous, try a pair of them on either side of your front door. They’ll welcome guests with a huge amount of stylish panache. Bonfire is bold enough to complement any style architecture, no matter if it’s traditional or modern.

#ProPlantTips for Care

Bonfire patio peach will grow best when planted in the ground in full sun. However, if you’d like to grow it in a container, please use a very large decorative container with large drainage holes.

This Peach cultivar is actually a genetic dwarf shrub that has an oval to rounded habit. It is lovely whether left to grow naturally in a shrub form with the lower branches left on. Or, prune those lower limbs back to the main trunk and grow it as a small formal tree.

For a miniature fruit orchard, add the Bonfire Peach tree to other genetic dwarf fruit trees like Honey Babe Peach or Garden Delight Nectarine. You’ll create a “right sized” edible garden of miniatures with beautiful spring blooms and a successive ripening of fruit.

When contrasted with the rich bright pinks flowers of other genetic dwarfs the effect is brilliant. The standout appeal of the Bonfire’s flower and red foliage will always be appreciated.

The landscape value of the Bonfire Peach cannot be understated. Order yours today!

Peaches and nectarines are easy to grow.

Peaches and nectarines are semi-hardy deciduous woody perennial trees. They grow best where summer is hot and where winter temperatures regularly fall below 45°F. Nectarines like slightly warmer conditions.

Peaches and nectarines are less hardy than apples; their range is farther south and at lower elevations than apples.

Peaches and nectarines are different forms of the same fruit. The peach has a fuzzy skin. The nectarine is a smooth-skinned peach. Peaches are round slightly smaller than an apple or baseball. A nectarine is usually smaller than a peach

Nectarines are sweeter than peaches with a more distinctive aroma.

If you don’t live in an optimal climate for peaches and nectarines, plant them against a sheltered, south-facing wall or in containers that can be moved to warm, sheltered spots that stay warm and sunny.

Types of Peaches and Nectarines

  • The flesh of peaches and nectarines is most often yellow, but some cultivars have white flesh. White flesh, like yellow flesh, is tender and tasty.
  • Peaches and nectarines are divided into freestone and clingstone cultivars.
  • The flesh of a freestone peach or nectarine will separate easily from the seed. Freestone peaches and nectarines are best for eating fresh out of hand.
  • The flesh of a clingstone peach or nectarine does not separate from the seed easily. Clingstone peaches and nectarines are a good choice for cooking and preserving.
  • Nectarines are smooth-skinned peaches; nectarines are usually smaller and sweeter than peaches with a more distinctive aroma; nectarines are less hardy than peaches.
  • Nectarines are grown and used just like peaches


Best Climate Growing Peaches and Nectarines

  • Peaches and nectarines grow best in USDA zones 5 through 9.
  • Grow peaches and nectarines where summers are hot and where winter temperatures dip below 45°F.
  • Most peach and nectarine trees require a chilling period of between 700 and 900 hours each winter in order to resume growing and set fruit the following spring. A chilling hour is one hour at a temperature of 45°F or less. Where there is insufficient chilling, peach trees may flower but they will not set fruit and the foliage could be sparse.
  • Peaches do not grow well where the temperature falls below 0°F for extended periods. Where winter temperatures fall lower than -10°F, peach wood will be damaged. Nectarines will suffer at slightly higher temperatures.
  • The optimal peach and nectarine fruit ripening temperature is 75°F. Where temperatures are consistently hotter the flavor may be astringent.
  • Cool, wet climates and constantly humid climates will leave peaches and nectarines susceptible to disease.
  • In cool summer regions, choose the warmest microclimate in your garden to plant peaches and nectarines. Choose a spot near a building where reflected heat will warm the tree.
  • Choose a site that is protected from the wind by trees, a large hedge, a wall, or a building.
  • Where weather warms gradually in spring, a southern slope is best for planting peaches and nectarines; this will give trees a longer warm, growing season before autumn frosts.
  • Where spring temperatures fluctuate in spring—warm then cold then warm, a cool northern slope or exposure is best because the trees will warm slowly and buds will not open too soon; buds that open early during a warm spell are susceptible to damage by any frost that follows. One hour of 25°F temperatures during bloom time can destroy the blossoms and the crop.

Best Site for Growing Peaches and Nectarines

  • Peaches and nectarines grow best in full sun. They can tolerate partial shade but the yield will be diminished.
  • Plant peaches and nectarines in light, loamy soil that is well-drained. Do not plant them where the soil stays wet; roots will rot.
  • Peaches and nectarines prefer a soil pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. If the soil pH is lower than 6.0 add lime to the soil.
  • Avoid planting peaches and nectarines in low spots where cold air or frost may settle.
  • Do not plant a peach or nectarine tree where another peach or nectarine has recently grown; the decaying roots will emit a chemical that can kill new tree roots.
  • Avoid planting peaches and nectarines near where wild chokecherries are growing; wild chokecherries can harbor viral diseases.
  • Peach and nectarine trees live 10 to 15 years; set out new trees every 4 to 5 years for uninterrupted harvest.
  • Choose a peach or nectarine variety that grows well in your region; check with the nearby Cooperative Extension Service or garden center for a cultivar recommendation.
  • Follow all recommendations for growing peaches when growing nectarines.

Peach and Nectarine Tree Pollination

  • Most peaches are self-fertile and do not require pollinators. A peach can set a full crop without another variety for pollination with just a few exceptions. (Exceptions include ‘J.H. Hale’, ‘June Elberta’, and ‘Halberta’, ‘Indian Free’, and ‘Chinese Cling’.)
  • When the weather is cool and insect pollinators are not active, peaches and nectarines can be pollinated by hand.

Peach Tree Rootstock

  • Most peach varieties are grafted, meaning the rootstock (the root system) and the fruiting section of the tree is different.
  • Most standard peach varieties are grafted onto seedlings rootstock is grown from ‘Lovell’ and ‘Halford’ peach seed.
  • In cold climates, choose peach varieties grafted onto ‘Siberian C’ rootstock; ‘Siberian C’ increases the hardiness of trees in cold winter regions; a tree grown on ‘Siberian C’ rootstock will be 10 to 15 percent smaller than a standard peach.
  • ‘Citation’ is a dwarfing rootstock. ‘Red Haven’ peach is a genetic dwarf peach.

Peach and Nectarine Tree Yield

  • A standard peach or nectarine can produce 100 to 150 pounds of fruit each year.
  • A dwarf peach or nectarine can produce 30 to 60 pounds of fruit each year.

Spacing Peach and Nectarine Trees

  • A standard peach or nectarine tree can grow 18 to 20 feet tall and wide. Plant standard trees 20 feet apart.
  • A semi-dwarf peach or nectarine tree can grow 8 to 12 feet tall and wide. Plant semi-dwarf trees 12 feet apart.
  • A dwarf peach or nectarine tree can grow 5 to 6 feet tall and wide. Plant dwarf trees 6 feet apart.
  • Choose a dwarf tree if your space is limited.

Planting Peaches and Nectarines

  • Peach and nectarine trees can be purchased either bare-root, ball-and-burlap, or in a container.
  • Choose a tree at least one-year-old stock, 4 to 5 feet tall, and with a stem at least ½ inch in diameter.
  • Bareroot trees are available in the winter and early spring when the trees are dormant and without leaves. Plant bare-root trees in spring as soon as the soil can be worked and before the trees begin to significantly leaf out. Bareroot trees are commonly grafted and without branches, and so are called whips. Make the planting hole large enough that the roots can be spread out fully. Look for the soil line on the tree and plant the tree at that level or an inch deeper. If the tree is grafted, set it in the hole so that the graft is visible when planted, an inch or so higher than the surrounding soil.
  • A ball-and-burlap tree is a tree whose roots are in soil; the roots are enclosed in burlap. Ball-and-burlap trees are commonly available in spring; however, they may be available later in the year. Plant a ball-and-burlap tree by positioning the tree in the planting hole at the same depth that it was growing at the nursery. After positioning the root ball into the hole, remove all twine or rope used to hold the burlap and ball together. Then open the top of the burlap and slide the burlap out of the hole. Lightly tamp in soil around the root ball; see General Planting Instructions below.
  • A container-grown tree can be planted at any time during the growing season. Remove the container carefully and plant the root ball at the same depth as in the container.
  • Avoid planting peach and nectarine trees in hot, dry weather.
  • In mild winter regions, trees can be planted in autumn.

General Planting Instructions

  • Prepare a planting site in full sun that is sheltered from a prevailing breeze or wind.
  • Work well-rotted compost or manure into the soil and add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
  • Dig a hole half again as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s roots.
  • Put a tree stake in place before planting. Drive the stake into the ground to the side of the hole to at least 2 feet deep.
  • Set the tree in the hole so that the soil mark on the stem is at the surface level of the surrounding soil. Remove all twine and burlap from ball-and-burlap trees. Spread the roots out in all directions.
  • Re-fill the hole with half native soil and half aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; firm in the soil so that there are no air pockets among the roots. Water in the soil and create a modest soil basin around the trunk to hold water at watering time.
  • Secure the tree to the stake with tree ties.
  • After planting, water each tree thoroughly and fertilize with a high-phosphorus liquid starter fertilizer.

Container Growing Peaches and Nectarines

  • Dwarf peach and nectarine trees can be grown in containers.
  • Choose a large pot or tub at least 18 inches wide and deep that is well-drained.
  • Plant trees in a commercial organic potting mix.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
  • Feed peaches and nectarines growing in containers with an all-purpose fertilizer that is slightly higher in potassium.
  • Repot the tree after two years into a container that is 24 inches wide and deep.
  • ‘Stark’, ‘Sensation’, and ‘Garden Gold’ dwarf peach varieties are good choices for containers.
  • In cold regions, protect trees growing in containers by moving them to a protected place–a garage or covered porch–in frigid weather.

Peach and Nectarine Care, Nutrients, and Water

  • Water peaches and nectarines regularly–at least weekly–during the first year in the ground. Established trees need a regular supply of water throughout the growing season.
  • For the most succulent, juicy fruit keep the soil evenly moist, not wet.
  • Mulch around peach and nectarine trees to reduce soil moisture evaporation and to keep weeds down. Weeds compete with trees for nutrients and soil moisture.
  • Avoid weeding more than one or two inches deep; peach and nectarine tree roots are shallow and can be damaged by deep weeding or spading.
  • Feed peaches and nectarines with a mulch of aged compost applied liberally around the base of the tree in spring when fruit sets.
  • Feed a peach or nectarine tree a half-pound of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer for each year the tree has been alive to a maximum of 10 pounds per tree per year. Feed the tree in spring.
  • For additional feeding, spray leaves with liquid kelp every 3 to 4 weeks during the growing season.
  • In fall after trees have dropped their leaves apply aged cow manure around the base of the tree; this will allow rain and melting snow to leach the nutrients deep into the soil.
  • A young peach or nectarine tree should make 18 to 24 inches of new growth each year; if there is less remove more wood during pruning and fertilize lightly; if there is more, then you are probably pruning too heavily and forcing the tree’s energy into the few remaining shoots.
  • Once the tree is fruiting full crops, 10 to 12 inches of new growth each year indicates healthy growth
  • Place a plastic cover over trees to keep the rain off buds and flowers between early winter and late spring; this will reduce the risk of peach leaf curl.
  • A peach or nectarine will burst into flower the first warm spell after the chilling hour requirement is met; this leaves flowers susceptible to damage
  • by frost. Protect open blossoms by placing a heavy plant blanket over the tree if frost threatens.

Training and Pruning Peach and Nectarine Trees

  • Peaches and nectarines are most commonly trained to an open center. A mature open-center tree has a vase-like shape.
  • At planting time, the top of the young tree—called a whip–is cut off at about 30 inches above the ground.
  • In the first year select four even spaced lateral branches; these should be spaced along the trunk about 4 to 8 inches apart and should be growing in different directions from the central stem/trunk (these will become the main scaffold branches); cut off all other small branches. Cut back the selected laterals by two-thirds their length; cut to an outward-facing bud. All other laterals should be removed.
  • At the end of the second season, cut off the main trunk or leader just above the top lateral branch; you have just created an open center. At the same time, shorten the laterals by one-third to one-half to encourage sub-lateral branching; cut all other small branches back to four or five buds.
  • In the next two years, prune back the laterals and sub-laterals by one-quarter at the end of each season to encourage strong growth. Allow even spaced smaller side branches (sub-sub-laterals or side shoots) to grow even spaced; prune the sub-laterals and their side shoots to two or three buds.
  • In the following years as the tree begins to fruit, cut back one out of every four shoots that fruited the previous year; cut these shoots back to a replacement shoot—replacement shoots should be upward and outward-facing; replacement shoots will bear fruit the next season.
  • Each summer when fruits are developing, prune away older, unproductive branches and shoots; this wood will be obvious because it will have no developing fruit. New wood is favored over old wood. Upward pointing replacement shoots are favored over downward-facing shoots.

Maintenance Pruning Step-by-Step

  1. Peaches and nectarines are pruned more heavily than other deciduous fruit trees. Annual pruning is important to keep the tree productive and from becoming unwieldy. Pruning will enhance productivity and ensure a quality crop. It is necessary to replace all fruiting wood each season; unpruned trees will have a very large crop with very small fruit the season after it is not pruned and in successive years may bear no fruit at all.
  2. A peach tree can be lightly pruned at any time of the year; heavy pruning should be done in late fall after the tree has dropped its leaves and gone dormant or in early spring before new buds appear.
  3. Remove all diseased, dead, or broken branches.
  4. Remove crossing or rubbing branches. If two branches cross and rub against each other they can cause a wound that may allow insects or fungal disease to attack the tree. Remove the least desirable branch.
  5. Remove all water sprouts. Water sprouts are fast-growing vertical branches that usually have no side branches.
  6. Remove all suckers. Suckers are fast-growing shoots that grow out of the soil from the roots below the soil surface.
  7. Remove a branch that creates a tight V-branch crotch, a crotchless than 45 degrees. These branches will not support the weight of a full crop of fruit.
  8. Prune to create an open center; the center should be shaped like a vase or a funnel. Prune so that branches are evenly distributed throughout the tree. Favor new branch growth; new branch growth will fruit the next season. When pruning is complete, one-year-old twigs should be about 12 inches apart.
  9. As scaffold branches age or become diseased or broken, select new branches from the forks of the main branches to replace old branches.
  10. Peaches bear fruit on the previous season’s wood; allow as much one-year-old growth as possible to remain; this will be next season’s fruiting wood. Cut back all one-year-old growth by one-third its length. This pruning will allow the tree to put maximum energy into the fruit buds which remain. Cut back growth just beyond an outward-facing branch or bud. Remove branches that are no longer productive.
  11. Pruning is best done during the dormant season from late fall to late winter but before trees break dormancy in spring. Peach trees can be thinned of unproductive shoots during the summer.
  12. Do not prune in winter where bacterial canker is a problem; wait until spring when new growth has begun

Thinning Peaches and Nectarines

  • Do not allow young peach and nectarine trees to set fruit during the first two growing seasons. Remove flowers or young fruits before they sap the energy the tree requires for root growth. During the third year, allow the tree to bear a small crop. Do not let a tree set more fruit than its limbs can bear.
  • Never let a peach or nectarine tree ripen all of the fruit that it sets. If a peach tree is not thinned it will yield small peaches that are just pit and skin; all peach and nectarine trees will benefit from thinning.
  • Thin fruits when they reach thumbnail size, about 1 inch in diameter. Thin early season fruit from 6 to 8 inches apart.
  • Thin after the tree naturally drops fruit in late spring–called “June drop.” June drop is the tree’s own natural thinning of fruit which usually occurs a few weeks after fruit set.
  • Thin peaches and nectarines again while the fruit is still green—usually in early summer. Thin fruits from 4 to 5 inches apart. This will allow the remaining fruit to grow large and sweet. Thinning increases the sugar content and flavor of the remaining fruit.
  • The fewer the fruitlets on a stem the larger the fruit will grow.
  • In drought weather, water often; lack of water will keep fruit from reaching full size and fruit will be mealy.

Harvest and Storing Peaches and Nectarines

  • Peach and nectarine trees reach sufficient size to bear harvestable fruit 2 to 4 years after planting; trees will begin bearing heavily by the fifth year.
  • Peach and nectarine fruit require 3 to 5 months to reach harvest from the time flowers are pollinated. Peaches and nectarines usually come to harvest from mid- to late summer. Trees have fruit-producing lives of about 12 years.
  • Peaches and nectarines are most flavorful and have the highest sugar content when they are allowed to mature on the tree. A peach or nectarine can expand 50 percent in size in the last three weeks of ripening.
  • A peach or nectarine is ready for picking when the fruit is well colored–the skin changes from green to yellow–and the flesh gives slightly to the touch. Ripe fruit shows no green; it is slightly soft and pulls away from the stem when you lift the fruit with a slight twisting motion.
  • The flesh at the end of the fruit away from the stem will give slightly with thumb pressure when the fruit is ripe; this is called firm-ripe; firm-ripe peaches and nectarines will store in the refrigerator for two weeks; they will ripen at room temperature when brought out of the refrigerator
  • A peach or nectarine will continue to grow and sweeten as long as it is left on the treed; when the flesh under the stem end yields to thumb pressure, the fruit is tree-ripe; tree-ripe fruit will keep only a few days in the refrigerator. Sugar content and flavor are best when fruits are allowed to come to maturity on the tree.
  • Periodic taste-testing will also help determine when most of the fruit on the tree is ripe.
  • If peaches or nectarines are to be stored, pick them firm-ripe.
  • Ripe peaches and nectarines are best eaten just picked. Fruit will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Peaches and nectarines can be canned, frozen, or dried.

Also of interest:

Peaches: Kitchen Basics

Canning Peaches

Propagating Peaches and Nectarines

  • Peaches and nectarines are usually propagated by budding.
  • Peaches and nectarines can be propagated on their own roots by hardwood or softwood cuttings.
  • It is possible for peach trees to grow from nectarine pits and for nectarines to grow from peach pits; a peach tree can sprout a limb bearing nectarines and a nectarine tree can sprout a limb bearing peaches.

Pest Insects that Attack Peaches and Nectarines

  • Plum curculios are beetles common east of the Rockies. They cause the fruit to become scarred and drop. Place a tarp under the tree and knock or shake the tree. The beetles will drop from the tree and you can collect and destroy them.
  • Peachtree borer is the larval stage of a moth that resembles a wasp. The larvae tunnel into the inner bark of the tree; trees are weakened and can die. Probe with a wire into the holes and kill the borers.
  • Oriental fruit moth larvae will tunnel into growing shoots and cause shoots and branches to wilt. A pheromone trap will attract moths. Branches infested with borers should be trimmed away. Both pests can be controlled if the tree is kept healthy with regular watering and feeding.
  • European red mites suck juices from leaves. Mites can be knocked from trees with a strong spray of water. Predatory mites will also attack red mites.
  • Scale is a sucking insect that looks like a small bump on the bark. Spray trees with dormant oil in the winter.
  • Aphids are tiny sap-sucking insects; a heavy infestation can cause leaf curl and stunted growth. Spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.
  • Spider mites suck sap from the undersides of leaves. Leaves become dull and mottled; plants become covered with a fine silk webbing. Knock mites off with a spray of water; spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.
  • Japanese beetles are metallic green and bronze insects; they feed on foliage and fruit and skeletonize leaves. Shake beetles off plants onto a tarp and drop the pests into a bucket of soapy water.
  • Tarnished plant bugs are small flying insects that feed on the sap in leaves and fruit; leaves are deformed. Spray with insecticidal soap or pyrethrum.
  • Birds eat fruit; cover trees with bird netting.
  • Wasps feed on fruit; set out wasp traps.

Peach leaf curl

Diseases that Attack Peaches and Nectarines

  • Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease that causes leaves to curl up and die; new leaves will appear after leaves drop. Preventive spraying with a copper fungicide will help control the disease. Resistant varieties include: ‘Candor’, ‘Clayton’, ‘Com-Pact Red Haven’, ‘Correll’, ‘Dixieland’, ‘Elberta, Red Haven’, and ‘Stark Earligro’.
  • Bacterial cankers cause branches to become sunken with lesions and ooze. Infected branches should be pruned off or cankers can be cut out and the healthy wood treated with lime sulfur.
  • Brown rot is a bacterial disease that attacks flowers and shoots and can spread to fruit. This disease can be controlled by spraying with lime sulfur when buds begin to turn green in spring.
  • Bacterial leaf spot and peach scab cause spots or cracks on leaves and fruit. Both leaf spot and peach scab can be controlled with a lime-sulfur spray every 15 days.
  • Trunk sunburn can be controlled by whitewashing the trunk in early spring. Whitewashing will also discourage ants.
  • Scab fungal disease causes dark-brown scabs on the skin of the fruit. Remove infected fruit; spray the tree with a fungicide.
  • Peach rosette mosaic virus causes plants to produce abnormal shoots. There is no treatment.

Fall and Winter Peach and Nectarine Care

  • Rake old mulch away from trees in early fall. Remulch around trees in late autumn after rodents have found winter homes elsewhere.
  • Clean up leaves and mummified fruits in winter.

Peach Varieties to Grow

  • Yellow-fleshed fruit: ’Cresthaven’, ‘Earliglo’,’ Garnet Beauty’, ‘Redhaven’, ‘Compact Redhaven’, ‘Briscoe’, ‘Elberta’, ‘Redskin’, ‘Reliance’, ‘Madison’.
  • White-fleshed fruit:‘Belle of Georgia’. (White-fleshed peach, very soft-bodied.)
  • Genetic dwarfs:‘Compact Redhaven’, ‘Compact Elberta’.
  • Late flowering or cold-tolerant:‘Clayton’, ‘Jayhaven’, ‘Emery’, ‘Redhaven’, ‘Jefferson’, ‘Cresthaven’, ‘Nectar’, ‘Reliance’, ‘Sunapee’.
  • Early season:‘Springold’, ‘Earlgrande’.
  • Midseason:‘Derby’, ‘Redhaven’, ‘Raritan Rose’.
  • Late season:‘Veteran’, ‘Redglobe’, ‘Canadian Harmony’.
  • Heat tolerant:‘Florida King’, ‘Florida Prince’.
  • Bacterial leaf spot resistant:‘Raritan Rose’’, Clayton’, ‘Ouchita Gold’, ‘Candor’, ‘Redhaven’, ‘Biscoe’, ‘Champion’, ‘Nectacrest’.
  • Canker resistant:‘Biscoe’, ‘Elberta’, ‘Candor’, ‘Brighton’, ‘Raritan Rose’, ‘Harken’, ‘Madison’, ‘Reliance’, ‘Harbrite’, ‘Champion’, ‘Harbelle’.
  • Brown-rot resistant:‘Carmen’, ‘Elberta’, ‘Orange Cling’, ‘Red Bird’, ‘Sunbeam’.
  • Peach leaf curl resistant:’Candor’, ‘Com-Pact Redhaven’, ‘Correll’, ‘Clayton’’, Dixiland’, ‘Elberta’, ‘Redhaven’, ‘Stark EarliGold’.

Also of interest: Peach Varieties

Nectarine Varieties to Grow

  • White flesh varieties: ‘Arctic Jay’, ‘Arctic Rose’, ‘Arctic Fantasy’, ‘Artic Star’, ‘Snow Queen’, ‘Goldmine’.
  • Yellow flesh varieties: ‘Double Delight’, ‘Flavortop’, ‘Harko’, ‘Juneglo’.
  • Cold hardy varieties: ‘Harko’, ‘Mericrest’
  • Low chill varieties: ‘Arctic Star’, ‘Double Delight’, ‘Goldmine’, ‘Panamint’, ‘Snow Queen’, ‘Sunred’.
  • Great flavor: ‘Liz’s Late’, ‘Heavenly White’, ‘Arctic Fantasy’, ‘Artic Rose’’.

Botanical name. Prunus persica

Origin. China

Also of interest: Donut Peach

Strolling along minding my own business
Well there goes a girl and a half
She’s got me going up and down
She’s got me going up and down
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Well I got the notion girl that you got some suntan lotion in that bottle of yours
Spread it all over my peelin’ skin, baby
That feels real good
All this skirt lappin’ up the sun
Lap me up
Why don’t you come on and lap me up?
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Well, there goes another one just lying down on the sand dunes
I’d better go take a swim and see if I can cool down a little bit
‘Cause you and me, woman
We got a lotta things on our minds (you know what I mean)
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Will you just take a look over there (where?) (there)
Is she tryin’ to get outta that Clitares?
Liberation for women
That’s what I preach (preacher man)
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Oh shit!
There goes the charabang
Looks like I’m gonna be stuck here the whole summer
Well, what a bummer
I can think of a lot worse places to be
Like down in the streets
Or down in the sewer
Or even on the end of a skewer
Down on the beaches, just looking at the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at brown bodies
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the shot glasses
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the peaches
Down on the beaches
Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm
Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Strolling along, minding my own business
Well there goes a girl and a half
She’s got me going up and down
She’s got me going up and down
Walking on the beaches, looking at the peaches
Well I got the notion girl
That you got some suntan lotion
In that bottle of yours
Spread it all over my peelin’ skin baby
That feels really good
All this skirt lappin’ up the sun
Lap me up
Why don’t you come on and
Lap me up?
Walking on the beaches, looking at the peaches
Well there goes another one
Just lying down on the sand dunes
I’d better go take a swim
And see if I can cool down a little bit
‘Cause you and me woman
We got a lotta things on our minds
(You know what I mean)
Walking on the beaches, looking at the peaches
Will you just take a look over there (Where?) there
Is she tryin’ to get outta that clitoris?
Liberation for women, that’s what I preach
(Preacher man)
Walking on the beaches, looking at the peaches
Oh shit, there goes the charabang
Looks like I am gonna be stuck here the whole summer
Well, what a bummer
I can think of a lot worse places to be
Like down in the streets
Or down in the sewer
Or even on the end of a skewer
Down on the beaches, just looking at the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at the burnt bodies
Down on the beaches, just looking at the sunglasses
Down on the beaches, just looking at the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at the peaches
Down on the beaches

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