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Free Peach trees from pits

 
Steve Nicolini
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Mother Earth News has a great article on growing peaches, nectarines, and apricots from seed.  They tell you the who, what, when, and how.  But where?  We have a fairly healthy peach tree up here in Western Washington, but I doubt it was planted from seed.  Would peach trees from seed work up here?  Anybody else grow peaches in the Pacific Northwest.  Please share your stories.
 
Susan Monroe
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I have read that trees from peaches vary less from the mother tree than most other fruit trees.

If true, it wouldn't matter where the seed came from or was planted as long as peaches in general grow there.  In fact, I think I read that a tree grown on site from a seed would be hardier than the same tree grown elsewhere, moved and transplanted.  I think that's how it went.

Sue
 
              
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Location: West Iowa
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Peaches from seed seem to be good.  We had a great crop off a seedling peach tree this year, and I was devouring five or so a day.
 
Leah Sattler
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that would make sense susan. I can see where the tree would have much more success adapting to the area if it started as a seedling then if it was moved there. there are microclimates everywhere. I have had luck (sort of) moving peach trees. Iknew someone that wanted to get rid of their dwarf peach tree, it was already about 5' tall. I dug it up in late summer and I was sure it would die because I could't keep any of the soil on the roots and had to wack through several big ones, I only got roots about 1/5 the size of the canopy at most. I stuck it in the ground anyway andthe next year had a bumper crop of awesome peaches from that little bitty tree! everyyear after it has started with tons of peaches that get about egg size then shrival up and turn black. I haven't taken the time to figure it out and treat it. I foolishly planted it on the east side of the house where it only gets morning sun. it is bigger now and would be even harder to transplant.
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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Leah, check the pH of the soil where that peach tree is growing, and see if it needs adjustment.

Also, the tree may be producing too many fruit, more than it can support.  When they're the size of a peach pit or so, go through and remove the extras, leaving about 4" between each fruit, and see if that helps.  It's like thinning carrots:  you do it or you don't get many decent carrots.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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I have not checked the ph which is a little silly since that could be an easy fix. I have tried thinning them but that didn't work. I'm pretty sure its is some kind of fungus. The fruit quite distinctively starts to get mottled black spots, eventually turning black and shriveled. I'm betting that a big part of the problem is that it is on the east side of the house and doesn't get all the dew dried off it before it is shaded, allowing something that would only moderatly affect the tree  in full sun to otherwise take over. the foliage for the most part says fine except for some bubbley leaves but I think I looked that up once and it wasn't related to the blackened fruit. 
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Steve,

All of the stone fruits (cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, etc.) tend to come close to true to seed. This means there will be some variation, but not as much as you would see with an apple or pear.

A special not since you're in Western Washington is to look out for peach leaf curl. We've found that the only variety that produces regularly and successfully beats out the peach leaf curl each year is the Frost Peach. We've tried tons of others and found their productivity to be lacking. This is why we don't often grow peaches from pits...they're so finicky here that we need to be sure that they have that curl-resistance so we get grafted frost peaches. This eliminates the margin of error.

In terms of growing peaches from pits, this means that I would strongly recommend using Frost Peach pits so that you have the curl-resistant genetics in place. If you planted out a bunch of frost peach seedlings I suspect that some would demonstrate a similar level of curl-resistance to the parent. Others would probably not fare so well. If you get lucky one might even be better than the parent (then you can name the variety and distribute it for big bucks).

Good luck!

Dave
 
Steve Nicolini
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Dave,

This peach leaf curl thing.  Is that what I think it is?  Watching the leaves to see if they curl?  We have one peach tree outside.  It produced decently this year, and the leaves did not curl.  If I tried growing from one of the pits, do you think it would be curl resistant? 

 
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Steve Nicolini wrote:
Dave,

This peach leaf curl thing.  Is that what I think it is?  Watching the leaves to see if they curl?  We have one peach tree outside.  It produced decently this year, and the leaves did not curl.  If I tried growing from one of the pits, do you think it would be curl resistant? 




You can see pictures of peach leaf curl at http://www.canr.msu.edu/vanburen/peacurl.htm. It is a fungal disease. If your tree did not get curl and you're in Western Washington I suspect it is a frost peach. If you plant one of the pits it will there is a chance it will be less curl resistant, a chance it will be equally resistant, and a chance that it will be more curl resistant. I don't know the percentages of those chances. I do know that there is a risk that it will be less resistant. If you only have room for one more peach tree I would get a grafted frost peach so you're sure you have the curl resistance you want. If you have space to plant out 20 or more, you could experiment with seedlings.

I suppose there are a couple of caveats:


  • [li]If you plan to plant the peaches under the eaves of your house or in a greenhouse, curl won't be as much of a problem[/li]
    [li]If you can cover the peach with a sheet of clear plastic between December and the time where it begins to leaf out in the spring, you will prevent a lot of your curl issues as these are the periods where the fungus usually takes hold. [/li]


  • Of course these are specialized scenarios that most people don't have. If you are interested in doing this you can experiment with all kinds of peaches including saturn peaches and purple peaches.

    Good luck!

    Dave
     
    Steve Nicolini
    Posts: 224
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    Thanks Dave. 

    I think I will try a few from the pits and see how they do.  My next question on this topic.  WHat can I do to increase the existing peach tree's productivity and prevent peach leaf curl?
     
    Susan Monroe
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    Location: Western WA
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    Steve, my first inclination would be to have the soil around the trees professionally tested (about $8-10 around here). 

    Peach trees prefer soil that is fairly close to 6.5.

    And take note of any other deficiencies or excesses.  Healthy soil will help a tree or plant resist pests and diseases.

    Sue
     
    paul wheaton
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    It seems like a good side business: selling the pits from a tree that does really good in puget sound.

     
    Steve Nicolini
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    Add that to the list. 

    Susan, which company do you recommend to give a soil test?

     
    Susan Monroe
    Posts: 1093
    Location: Western WA
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    Kinsey Agricultural http://www.kinseyag.com ; is the only one I know that doesn't sell products along with tests.  There may be others.

    As cynical and skeptical as I tend to be  I have a bit of a problem with labs that sell products.  Are their test results slanted to sell their products?  Well, maybe not, but..... how would I know?

    International Ag Labs, Midwestern Bio-Ag, CSI, Logan Labs, etc, are really farm-consulting companies who also do testing.  Your opinion (or BS meter)  may read different.

    If one lab is nearer to you, you might send in samples to it and to the Kinsey lab, and see what they recommend*.  I wouldn't compare the tests directly, as different labs use different methods, which can cause some variation in results.

    What I would look for in test results is what they recommend:  if one says you need to add just a little nitrogen, some copper and sulfur, and the other one is advising you to buy a bunch of their products, well....... that would give you an idea of who you could or couldn't trust, right?

    * Be sure to send the same samples, not different ones.  Take samples of one area and divide in half, one to one lab and one to the other.  If you have quite a bit of land, or areas that have had additions made, like lime, you would probably want to test those separately.  If you did use lime, tell them how much and when you put it down, as lime takes at least three years to break down, and if it was mid-process, it would throw off their results if they didn't have that info.

    Sue
     
    Steve Nicolini
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    I hear you.  So when one company says "if you got one of our doo-hickies..." I know to let them waste their breath talking about the product before I politely eliminate business with them.

    You would have to make friends with an employee, you know, have a guy on the inside.  I bet for every nutrient deficiency those companies have a product to recommend buying. 

    How many samples do you suppose I send if I live on 4 1/2 acres of growing zone?
     
    Susan Monroe
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    Location: Western WA
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    You might call Kinsey Labs and ask:  573-683-3880.

    It might depend on the differences within the property, like high spots, low spots, spots that had cover crops growing, spots that had manure spread, spots that were cropped, or limed, etc.

    If you send in multiples, be sure to number them carefully and draw a rough map for yourself that shows how the numbers correspond to the areas you sampled, so you won't get them mixed up.

    Sue
     
    John Saltveit
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    I unintentionally grew many peach trees from pits in the compost. The one I let grow up produces peaches every year but is really damaged by peach leaf curl and bacterial diseases. They taste good, as peaches are less diverse than say apples. I will try to bud something onto them, because they don't take to whip and tongue grafting.
    John S
    PDX OR
     
    I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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