I am so disappointed: my peaches are ripening and beautiful and abundant. BUT they have no flavor, no peachy smell and a mushy texture. They are sweet but that is their only redeeming quality. They are even excessively fuzzy. Is that a thing? The tree was planted three years ago bareroot and the last two crops were obviously small but so much better flavor.
The tree has grown rapidly. It's huge and green with no apparent disease. It probably should have been pruned more heavily but I did prune it some. It is getting residual water from a leaky irrigation line (not mine we live on a ornamental tree nursery) and the occasional deep water from me. Soil seems moist - too moist? I fertilized in early spring with cow manure - could it have been too much? Not enough? Too little too late?
The winter was warm and the spring has been warm. The last few days have been a massive heat wave with temps over 100 degrees!
I've never grown peaches, but have a lot of experience with apricots, so my questions are really just questions, not suggestions.
About the tree, and getting better peaches from it in the future. Was it a grafted variety? If yes, then it should have been tasty, so maybe there's something that didn't suit the tree about its location, water, etc. If it wasn't a grafted variety and you planted a seedling, now might be the time to start learning about grafting, and locating a peach tree whose fruit you like, and whose owner will let you take a scion when the right season comes.
About how to eat the fruit, if it's sweet but has poor texture, maybe it would make nice dried fruit. Or maybe it would make nice jam, or as you say it doesn't have much flavor other than sweetness, maybe you can mix it with something sour and flavorful for jam. Or fruit leather.
We've got a mealy tasteless apricot tree, and the fruit gets big blotchy grey bruised patches just before it gets ripe. I was planning to graft something better onto it, but in the meantime, the unripe green fruit makes pretty good chutney. (Our recipe is green unripe apricots, sugar, salt, powdered chillies, and either garlic or asafoetida. It's yummy.)
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Sometimes when you leave peaches on your tree for too long they can turn mushy. Them being tasteless is weird. Any chance the rootstock took over the graft? This can happen when suckers from the rootstock aren't pruned off. If left alone suckers can grow so vigorously that they can take over much of the tree in a few years. Do you have a picture of your tree? You can tell if it's the suckering rootstock when branches come from below the graft and closer to where the trunk meets the soil.
As Dave mentions, over ripe will cause mushy fruit. But That doesn't seem to be your issue.
I will make some recommendations,
Get some Sea-90 and apply 1/2 to 1 full cup spread around the drip line of each tree.
You are experiencing a lack of mineral availability to the peach trees, that causes lack of flavor and "mushy".
Inoculate with mycorrhizae, fruit trees perform best when fungi are there helping with nutrient uptake.
Other things to do that will help the tree(s) (the drip line is where these do the most good for the tree); water with fish emulsion, spread some green sand, bone meal, blood meal amendments.
Use finished compost as a mulch layer (no closer to trunk than 6 inches), use a good mulch layer on top of the compost so it isn't blown/ washed away.
Taking these steps now will help your trees produce really good tasting fruits in the future.
Check your soil, your mention of good taste previously indicates a loss of nutrients has occurred.
It may be that you will need to make yearly amendments or semi-yearly amendments to rebuild the soil nutrients.
I'm with John. Just barely enough water for fruits from peaches to tomatoes leads to concentrated flavor, and overly abundant water leads to diluted flavor. Another tricky thing is when there's a big rain event while the fruit is ripening - it can lead to the fruit actually breaking open/cracking, from too much water being pushed into the fruits. Not much you can do about that, but maybe you can try to manage the water from the leaky pipe so that the soil isn't consistently moist. I think peaches like it a bit dry, at least some of the time.
If you cook the lame peaches down into peach butter, the flavors might concentrate to the point where it's yummy. That's a lot of peach butter, though! A crockpot can work well for this, but keep stirring.
You mentioned it's getting residual water from a leaky irrigation line? How much? That could definitely be a source of too much moisture, but I'm also wondering if the constant water percolation could be leaching minerals out of the soil around the tree.
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Two years you had great tasting fruit, and this year sweet mush? Ventura California? How has the weather been different this year than the last two? Seems like you've been in drought for years and it let up- barely- in the last year. When did the irrigation line begin to leak into the tree's root zone?
I haven't experienced the texture problem, but it's possible it could be a soil thing, a lack of fertility, lack of the right mix of what the tree needs. I'd focus on how this year differed in climate and soil conditions.
The irrigation leak could have brought more water to the tree, but if the tree looks healthy too much water might not be the problem either.
The manure could have been nitrogen rich, which would get a lot of foliage, which would normally make the sugars and other compounds that are distinctively peach.
Factors to consider, and forgive me if you already know this, it's just my methodical way, and by reviewing the situation I might discover something I was not aware I knew. I'm just sort of thinking out loud. It keeps my attention on the question at hand.
The tree creates primordial buds in the fall before dormancy, up high in the sunlight. If you prune too heavily, you can cut off all of next year's fruit. The tree won't make new flower options in the spring. Late frosts can thin the fruit.
After flowering and fruit set, the tree puts out its new growth. If the leaves are deep green and the "normal " color for peach leaves it's a good sign. If the tree grew a lot of lush foliage and ran itself short of minerals, often times the color of the foliage is off, or the veins or margins are the wrong color. I don't think too much foliage would cause flavorless mushy fruit.
What's happening in my orchard this summer might be going to yield a deluge of flavorless soft apricots. They were ripening just fine, and at the regular rate. Suddenly it turned very hot and has stayed that way. In the heat the fruit will soften and drop, but it won't be bright with flavor. It's like they'll get beyond prime from the heat, before they get their sugar up, and their flavor. If I call sweet tangy flavorful "ripe", and soft and dropping from the tree "mature" then what is happening in my orchard is the ripening process and the maturation process are not synchronized.
I just re read the original post and it seems the heat might be doing what I think is happening in my orchard, It is just my theory, having watched my apricots fast forward, and knowing -thinking I know - what's in store. And I agree, it is heart breaking, especially considering that we have not had apricots since 2010. And I have not lost a crop in this way before. The "normal" way to lose a crop is the late frost, or a normal frost after an early warm spell.
So sorry for your peaches. I at least have peaches nectarines plums grapes and apples to follow. Unless we have another anomaly in our summer weather. Here's hoping!
Best luck: satisfaction
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