How to prune peach and nectarine trees
A peach can actually grow outside by a southern wall, but they easily get peach leaf curl. They thrive better in the greenhouse.
Peach and nectarine are downy and plain kinds of the same fruit, which origins from China. It might seem difficult when learning to prune but take it easy, eat a peach and go step by step. :D
Let’s start with the simple explanation and then the elaborate one:
Peach especially sprout from the thin and green shoots which have grown from last summer. In other words, it is basically the buds from last year’s shoots that grow the fruit. The fruit-bearing shoot grows from the stem, that is the stem that grows longer and that piece that grows longer grows the fruit. They can grow from all over the stem. It is then you need to control what grows from the stem. You should remember to care for the newly grown.
Pruning is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. If the shoots grow too close it is impossible for insects to pollinate the flowers, which will reduce the yield unless you do the work as a bee yourself.
The tree is sensitive to pruning and shouldn’t get pruned during the winter. It should get pruned right before harvesting, otherwise, it will be in a great risk of bacterial canker.
In other words, you should make sure that there always are branches to bear fruit the following year. The old branches grow new shoots, but they will just grow taller if they are not pruned. So, make sure there are new shoots to bear fruit the following year and thin out the tree if there are too many branches and the tree is too thick. Do you follow?
Then the elaborated version:
- Thin out between branches during the summer when they are thin. You get the best result when shaping the tree as a fan, it is not a must as it can be difficult if the tree already has another shape.
- When planting early fall the stem should be cut back one third.
- During summer the stem will grow new shoots. They should be tied up in the shape of a fan or trellis. Horizontal branches usually yield better. That goes for all fruits.
- The shoots and stems you choose to keep should be cut above the fourth leave, but not until it has grown at least 8 leaves. If you cut it before the 8 leaves are there, new side shoots will grow. Then the year’s work is done.
- Next summer and sometime in the future new shoots should be cut to four leaves again. Side shoots growing from side shoots should be cut above the first leaf.
Furthermore, you should remove all that doesn’t fit in there.
Don’t overdo it. Pruning too much can cause bacterial canker.
if the tree gets too thick you can thin out the larger branches, thereby the sunlight can reach the tree.
Peach trees yield a lot of fruit, so it is necessary to thin out. There should be approximately 6 inches between the fruits. Thin out when the fruits are the size of a small walnut – not before and not after. Many fruits fall off themselves because they have not been pollinated.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.