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Big branch of my peach tree broke off. Any way to save the peaches?

 
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So, for the first time ever, my peach tree produced peaches...too many peaches, and it broke off a big branch. I'll get pictures and post them soon.

But, is there anyway we can ripen those peaches? Hang the branch upside down like people do with tomatoes? Put it in fish water? Any ideas?

Thanks!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Okay, here's the branch, and the gash, and the rest of the tree. We've tried propping up the other branches with sticks, but I don't know if it's enough? Also, how should I prune this, now that it's all lopsided?

Should I keep the branch in the barn/shed thing or put it in a bucket of fish water? Or do I just give up and try to figure out how to make insane amounts of...chutney?

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Big ol branch of green peaches, currently hanging in the shade
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Big ugly gash, with the branch below also half-cracked off
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The rest of the tree (I'm facing east)
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Facing south while looking at the tree
 
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When that happened to an apricot tree near me, I made chutney that came out great. I pitted the fruit as for jam, chopped it up and boiled it gently as for preserves, and added salt, sugar, chilli, and either garlic or asafoetida to taste. It was a superhit.
 
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Hi Nicole, I'm going to make a suggestion which I would hate to do myself.  But here it is:  can you thin the remaining fruit so the tree can support its own branches?  It would be better than having all the branches break off and losing all the fruit and even the tree itself.
 
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The peaches may be too immature but you could try using a brown paper bag to ripen.  

Ripen Peaches
 
Nicole Alderman
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Galadriel Freden wrote:Hi Nicole, I'm going to make a suggestion which I would hate to do myself.  But here it is:  can you thin the remaining fruit so the tree can support its own branches?  It would be better than having all the branches break off and losing all the fruit and even the tree itself.



How much should I thin? I've never had this many peaches, and am kind of unfamiliar with how much bigger/heavier they will get. Many of them have pink/orange hue to them, so I thought they were getting close to done...and then this branch broke off :'(. I don't want to over or under thin, so I'd love some guidance!
 
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Could you not cross-tie opposing branches such that their weights pull against each other? You might end up with two or three ropes crossing eachother over the mid-point of the tree in the crown. If they don't bend down far enough that the bark breaks, it will remain whole. The issue is that the strain isn't being transferred to where the tree is strong.

This doesn't mean that you won't have weight-related issues with this tree. The fruit is bound to get heavier, so if you were going this route, I would web the ropes together and anchor them to an upright support stake.

You could even try staking each individual branch with its own stake, tying at several points. I would do this in addition to the counter-roping.

As much as you want peaches, I don't know how much it would be worth it to go to all this trouble to save individual peaches. I would focus on the long-term health of the tree, even if that means amending the soil such that it vegges more next year, with less fruit output, like tomato plants in too-rich soil.

That said, I hope you can salvage something of the fruit. I also wonder to what extent a broken branch can be air-layered, providing its water needs are met while it lives.

Keep us posted, though, and good luck!

-CK
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:How much should I thin? I've never had this many peaches, and am kind of unfamiliar with how much bigger/heavier they will get. Many of them have pink/orange hue to them, so I thought they were getting close to done...and then this branch broke off :'(. I don't want to over or under thin, so I'd love some guidance!



I don't know what the proper guidance should be for thinning at this stage; my guess is that the peaches are close enough to mature that thinning won't materially benefit the remaining fruit, so it's just a matter of doing it if you think it will prevent further breakage (basically, relieving unsustainable weight on the branches).  

The advice I've seen is to thin at an early stage of fruit development, when the fruits are roughly the size of a walnut or a ping pong ball.  Then, the received wisdom goes, one should remove fruits until you are left with single fruits with roughly a hands-width of space between them.  On my feral peach trees, that means removing more than half the fruit, because my peaches tend to grow in clusters of two and three like huge berries.  (If they touch, that also turns into a spot where the dreaded grey mold/blight stuff tends to start.)  

I have never been able to thin fruit as heavily as the advice suggests -- I just can't bear to do it.  But supposedly, doing that has enormous benefits for the size and sweetness of the fruit that doesn't get thinned.

 
G Freden
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I think standard guidance is one fruit every 4-6 inches.  I have a small/young Kumoi pear which has similar growth to your tree (long slender branches).  I ruthlessly--and sorrowfully--thinned the fruit to one per branch, and the weight of that one fruit is causing each branch to sag.  My tree is shorter than yours though, so I imagine yours could hold more than one each.
 
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I had 2 branches break on the peach tree here just as they were getting ripe. Like you, we got a lot more peaches this year. I didn't thin them because the wind is so strong it was thinning them already. if they have any color at all, they will typically continue to ripen. Just put them on a counter in the house and wait for them to ripen.

I did that and some got dry and I ended up cutting them in small pieces and feeding them to my ducks. But others ripened normally and I ate or froze them.
 
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The more serious long term problem is that from what I can see in your images, these trees are not even close to being pruned properly.  You might want to start all over and top the trees back to 18-24" and as the new branches come out, learn to prune properly and then you will not have this problem.  If you do not address the problem, then what happened is going to continue to happen on a regular basis. Also, if you have leaning trees, eventually they are going to topple if it rains enough and they are filled with fruit.  It can seem daunting in the beginning, to learn to prune properly.  My suggestion is that you keep watching pruning videos on YouTube until you find one you can understand; that the lightbulb clicks on.

There was a time in the past I wanted to start single stemming all my annual vegetables and fruits.  I am an experienced farmer but I just couldn't seem to "get it" - LOL.  I just kept watching videos until one day a man explained it so simply and showed us really good examples, and Voila!  I laughed thinking how very simple it was but sometimes that happens. We are our own worst enemy at times. The thinking of "I can't" can fill up the whole air space and we become like deer in the headlights.

May your venture be Successful!
 
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Sorry about your tree. I've had similar problems with some of my trees over the years, including my apple tree uprooted this year within weeks of ripening. In the past I've had a prune plum & a pear tree that were overloaded with fruit that broke several branches off. Each time, I've harvested the fruit into boxes to ripen in a dark shed....much of it did, some did not. Atleast you would get some of the fruit rather than tossing it all. One year my husband had used a ratchet strap to hold one tree together, similar to what was mentioned earlier and it did save one from breaking off. If you thin the amount of fruit, it is probably better to take too much in order to lighten the load on the tree, than to not take enough and have it break anyway.

If it were me, and as I have done...…..I'd try to save as much of the fruit as possible, whether it's on or off the tree. And depending on the breakage, it is possible the tree may be able to recover. Also, isn't there some kind of fix available that you can put on the break as a protection from bugs so the tree can recover?
 
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I agree that the tree needs pruning to support heavy fruit. It's not just the weight, but also the distance and angle that causes breakage. The branches look long and lanky, like the tree is growing in shade.

Traditional orchard wisdom is to let the tree grow at least 3 years before allowing it to bear fruit.  Care and attention are important for its shape and vegetative needs during its first years.

Propping up branches slows the breakage, but doesn't help with the strength or leverage issues of the tree itself.
Left to themselves, these branches are likely to keep growing longer. To get abundant fruit with fewer tragic losses year to year, you want the branches thicker compared with their length, to support the weight.
Some orchardists even place straps in the off season to pull gently _down_ on branches, then prune, to create a stronger "T" shaped crotch for the main fruiting branches. More fruiting shoots will naturally grow straight up from these side branches. Prune any that try to grow J shaped from the bottom of the main branch.
J and Y shaped branches are easily broken by fruit weight, as are parallel near-vertical trunks, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the tree.


Allowing these long, thin branches to stay long and bend, it seems likely this little tree will form a sort of weeping shape, not very strong, and prone to damp and fungal blights.

Whereas if you cut the branches back to where they are strong enough, and let new shoots re-grow from there to bear fruit, you will have a stronger tree and the shoots will get more sun for ripening fruit.  As the trunk and main branches get thicker and stronger, you can let the new branches grow longer and bigger.

I would be tempted to thin by cutting off the last 1/3 of each long branch now, fruit and all, and follow up in winter by cutting back to within a few feet of the main trunk. But I'm not an experienced orchardist. I think the idea of watching pruning videos, particularly videos that show the final results after a year or two, would be wise.

Saving the peaches on the lost branch might be a lost cause, and a distraction from saving the rest of the tree.

I do think chutney or pickles are great things to do with unripe fruits. You could also try putting the branch in a big cleannvase or jar, with a solution of food grade "flower food," like diluted Sprite, to see if the branch will stay alive long enough for the fruit to ripen further.

For the damaged branch end on the tree: air layering is an interesting option, but with the ugly broken end, seems likely to go rotten before you would ever get enough roots to support the broken branch. Cleanest option may be to cut off cleanly, below the break (unfortunately including the partially broken branch as well), then seal the cut end by painting with tree seal, pine tar, or a beeswax mixture.

In winter, prune while dormant. If you want, you can try to propagate from the cuttings using willow water or rooting hormone to start new trees. Peach is not as easy to propagate this way as other trees, but you'll get more fruit in the end by pruning than by letting each branch overgrow and break off one by one.  

Trees build the strength they need by responding to stress- by shedding overweight branches when loaded with fruit or ice, by healing and growing in response to strain from swaying in the wind (much as our muscles grow). Trees grown in shade tend to get lanky seeking sun, and also generally don't get the toughening effect of wind.
Trees that are stakes or supported when young may alway remain weaker than trees that supported themselves. Landscapers are advised to remove support stakes the first year, so the tree can move enough to grow the buttressing strength it needs, from early on. Wind strain also affects branch shape and root growth
This is widely ignored on low budget landscaping projects, such as parking lots; with the result that we amateurs see stakes left in place and learn from bad examples, and think this is normal.

Propping up branches now, with such long snaky branches, virtually guarantees you'll need to keep propping them forever, or until you work up the motivation to salvage prune later on.  The tree doesn't have a shape that can support its own fruit.  If you're ok with more fruit now, at the cost of probably shortening the life and total potential size of the tree, propping can be done for years or decades. Once those arched-over branches get really big, your options to safely prune get more limited. And they make it hard to see or fix damage to the trunk itself.

If you really want to save every branch, and don't care if the tree supports itself, you could consider bulding a stout garden wall or frame on the shady side of the tree to espalier the branches permanently.  Kinda like a peach vine instead of a peach tree.
 
Nicole Alderman
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We've had this tree for 5 years now, and in the past it made 2, or 4 or at the most 24 peaches. Even when we had a foot of snow over the winter, the branches stays up so high I would have to be on my tip-toes or uses a ladder to reach where the peaches were. So, I was not prepared at all for it to fruit like this or sag so much! At first I was really happy the branches had sagged some so I could reach peaches!

And, yes, the tree is shaded on the east side, and gets enough sun in the summer, but not in the spring. I've learned a lot through this. Thank you all!

Off to prune!

I've been wary of pruning it because where I had pruned it in previous years had gotten fungal issues and the branches had died. So I was trying to leave well enough alone. Only problem is, it wasn't well enough, I guess!

I'll go prune the 1/3rd end of each branch. The peaches on the tree are almost ripe, so they should ripen inside, and the weather is dry, so hopefully there won't be any fungal issues (our winter and spring is so damp that clothes NEVER dry outside).
 
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file:///home/ferron/Pictures/67376038_641198553043160_754148406946955264_n.jpg%20peach%20tree%20crack My peach tree has a crack at the fork of two super loaded branches after years of drought we had record rainfall.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

How much should I thin? I've never had this many peaches, and am kind of unfamiliar with how much bigger/heavier they will get. Many of them have pink/orange hue to them, so I thought they were getting close to done...and then this branch broke off :'(. I don't want to over or under thin, so I'd love some guidance!



I've read somewhere that you should generally not prune over 1/4 of the new growth from a tree.

I knew one guy who would take off about 1/3 of the small fruit to give the rest a better chance to grow up big and strong.

So I would say take off between 1/3 and 1/4 of the fruit.
 
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You may wish to consider planting the stones from any peaches that ripen, it will take another 3 or four years before they start to bear fruit but they ought to grow true and you can prune them so that they don't grow too tall while they are still saplings. This is a pretty drastic method of pruning but worth trying out on the pit grown trees if you decide to grow any https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-techniques/small-fruit-trees-zm0z15onzdel  
 
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This happened to me once; I put the branch in a bucket of plain water in a cool spot and the peaches ripened and were good. They were bigger tho and some were beginning to turn color already.
 
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Update on the peaches! Hanging them upside down didn't help--they started shriveling after a few days. So, I pruned off a few inches off the base of each branch to make a fresh cut and stuck them in my husband's tadpole stock tank. A few of the smaller ones fell off from the stress, but the rest plumped up and are even turning red! I'll try to get a picture taken and posted soon!
 
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Pictures! I left the branch props up, just in case. But, the branches don't seem to be sagging nearly as much!

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Peaches ripening!
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Pruned tree. I need to figure out some way to rebalance the tree, as there's not enough branches on the shady side...
 
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My peach tree split until the branches were laying on the ground, but they still are attached enough that the leaves are still green, and the peaches are slowly ripening. Now we need more rain.
 
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I had no idea that peach wood is so weak.  This branch drooping and breaking seems to be a feature rather than an exception.  My young Contender tree had a couple dozen fruit this year, and I had great plans for peach ice cream.  Found the tree bare of fruit and one main branch broken over the fence I'd strung around it.  The other large branch hung almost as low.  Thing is, most of the fruit was near the center of the tree, not at the ends of the branches.  I'm positing a raccoon raid to explain what I found.

My neighbor's tree is also drooping, but he is focused on keeping the birds away from the fruit.

Going forward, I've got to get serious about proper pruning and fencing as well, it seems.
 
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