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Advice on first time peach tree blooming  RSS feed

 
Bruce Woodford
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Hi Y'all,

4 or 5 years ago I discovered a sprouting peach pit from compost in my garden. I transplanted it and cared for it in the garden and then planted it in the yard by some apple trees. I've composted it and watered it and it has grown really well and last summer was over 8' tall and I pruned it back a bit. This spring it blossomed for the very first time and (in my inexperienced opinion) quite prolifically.) I wondered how well it would pollinate with no other peach trees around but it is now growing an abundance of peaches. (I've counted more than 20 on 1 branch alone!) I have not sprayed it at all and don't know what to spray for, what organic products to use or if it is already too late!

Any advice for a guy who knows nothing about growing peaches?

Will appreciate any suggestions from experienced peach growers.
Thanks in advance!
 
Bill Erickson
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No need to spray anything, Bruce. Put some compost/mulch around the drip line and water it regularly. Even watering is one of the keys to fruits that don't split. If the sky is doing a regular job of watering every couple of days, then all is well. If it isn't, peaches do like that water.
 
wayne fajkus
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You may consider thinning out the fruit. It should allow the rest to grow bigger. Please post results when ripe. I'm curious , considering it's likely from a grafted tree.
 
Marco Banks
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Ditto what Wayne said.

Thin aggressively, or you will not get any fruit of decent size. 

My rule of thumb is, literally, the gap between my thumb and my pinky finger.  Spread your hand out like a Hawaiian "Hang Loose" sign.  That's the distance between fruit.  Thin everything else out so that the fruit is about 8 inches apart.  You may only get 2 fruit per branch, but what you get will be good-sized.  Noobies ALWAYS think they've thinned enough, but they haven't.  It seems so wasteful to just pick those little peaches off and drop them to the ground.  Do it.  Thin ruthlessly.  Then thin it one more time, because you didn't do it enough.

Bird netting is helpful, as the birds will quickly discover the ripe peaches before you get a chance to pick them.

Stone fruit tends to jump in size about 20% the last two weeks before picking if you continue to water the tree, so make sure you are giving the tree consistent (and generous) water right up to the point where you pick.

Is there anything better than a bowl of freshly sliced peaches with a little sugar sprinkled in.  That's the taste of summer, right there.  Or halve them, drizzle a little bit of honey and cinnamon on the cut side, and grill them for about 5 minutes over a hot fire.  If you've got some fresh mint, a little bit of finely chopped mint is nice sprinkled over the grilled fruit after it comes off the fire, and then serve it with big scoop of quality vanilla ice cream. 

Let me know when they are ripe, and I'll be right over.
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks so much for all the helpful advice Bill, Wayne and Marco!  I wondered about thinning, so now I know what I need to do. I'll try to ad some pics and will keep you posted.
 
Bruce Woodford
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Some suggested thinning to 8" apart and others to 4" so I did the less aggressive approach. Here are the results just before the peaches are ripe. They have lots of color but are still hard so I'm hoping they will increase in size as they continue to ripen.     BTW, early in the season, I saw a fair bit of curled leaves on the tree. (Don't know the cause....is it insect, virus, blight of some sort?) But whenever I saw them I removed them and burned them. Now I have seen none for about 2 months and the tree look very healthy.

Another question: Do birds go for peaches BEFORE they ripen? When they are ripe? What's the best deterrent?

Any advice is welcomed by this "green" peach grower!
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Bryant RedHawk
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when thinning peaches you don't want two peaches touching, it will create a moisture pocket which will lead to fruit rot on at least one of the touching fruits.

Air is the friend of the peach grower, even more so than the apple, pear, plum, grower.

Your trees look nice but the branches still have too many fruits on them, that can slow ripening as well as break branches.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks Redhawk!  Some of them are just about ripe and I hope to start harvesting soon so that will help to lighten the branches a bit!  BTW, what is the best way to germinate peach pits to grow more trees?  Do they need frost first? Someone suggested to me that they germinate best if they are buried or composted with other peach "remains" such as skins, spoiled fruit etc as if they fell and the pit was surrounded by it's own rotting flesh. What is your suggestion?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I like to let the peach get soft then place it where I want a tree and stomp the peach, then I walk away. I do this in the fall, just after harvest is finished.

If you want to eat the peach, then just press the pit into the soil.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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So is there some truth to the idea that they will germinate better with the flesh around them?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes, some truth. This is because the peach developed as a food for animals such as Deer, they eat the fruit and leave the pit with some of the flesh remaining.
Deer love to wait till the fruit has fallen and fermented, it is quite the sight, drunken deer wandering about with a belly full of peach brandy.

In nature it is usually the fruits the animals miss that produce the new trees, the flesh rots and fertilizes the soil right around the pit. Spring comes and the pit germinates, sending the root down first then after about a week of this root growth the cotyledons push the seed remains apart and head towards the sunlight.
The first year the new trees are pretty much sticks with leaves, the second year branches form and the stick starts looking more like a tree trunk.

By planting the seed where you want the tree, you are no longer in need of the ability to chill the pit, nature will do that for you and then, when the spring rains come, a tree starts to grow.
The only draw back is that rabbits seem to like freshly sprouted fruit trees so you need to put some wire fencing around the seed when you plant it, both for knowing where that seed is and protection from nibbling.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks so much, Redhawk! This is very practical advice. I have no idea what variety this tree is but it looks like one I'd like more of. So think I'll try to plant some more and see how they do.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Odds are, in Ontario, particularly if it is a free stone, that it is either Alberta peach or Harmony peach.
The flesh of the Harmony peach is more yellow than the Alberta which is more orange.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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I'll have to see when we harvest the first one whether it is a freestone or not and just what color the flesh is.

Another question for you, if you don't mind, Redhawk.... what is the best way to prune a peach tree. I pruned it back  to just over 8' and thinned it out last fall. All those pruned branches have grown at least 30" this year so far! How should I prune it again in the fall. I'm assuming that's the best time to do it. that right?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes Bruce, The time to prune is about a week after the last leaves are gone, this gives the tree time to complete the hibernation process.
I prune peach trees in an order method; dead wood first, weak branch joints second( these are tight V shapes with bark very wrinkled looking), crossing branches are third to go then I prune to let light into the center of the tree.
This allows for the growth of new main branches for shape and better fruit quantity.

When the next years blossoms set fruit, the ideal is one fruit every 6 inches and no fruits touching, this reduces branch breakage and rot.

Once I have completed my pruning I remove all the refuse, give the soil a light raking with a yard broom (type of rake) and lay down a winter mulch if the tree doesn't have good soil coverage of grass.
If the grass is up against the trunk, I dig it out so there is a bare soil ring about 6 inches wide all around the trunk, this keeps voles and other bad things from doing any damage.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks so much for the practical advice on the care of peach trees. I'll be following your advice this fall and hopefully get more of this variety planted for a few years down the road!

I'm trying to recall just how old this tree is, but my memory doesn't serve me well. I think it is about 5 years since I discovered it sprouting in the garden. Can you tell me how old peach trees usually are when they blossom the first time?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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On average fruit trees such as apple, pear, plum, persimmon and peach put off their first fruit at six to seven years old.
If they fruit before this, they usually will drop all the fruits since they aren't at the root extension size to support both the tree and the fruits.
I have some persimmon trees that put out their first fruits this year, the trees are 7 years old, one had put on some fruits two years ago but within two weeks it had dropped every one of them.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Well maybe it is 6 years since this one sprouted but I don't think it would be 7!  Each year it seems to have grown much more than the previous one.  Back to the subject of pruning... is there an ideal size at which to maintain a peach tree? Or can you let them grow tall and wide as long as they are properly pruned and thinned so light can easily get to the centre branches?
Bruce
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Peach trees don't get extremely tall, maybe 20 feet. I let mine grow as tall as they want to but I prune back once they are dormant to keep them from getting over 15 feet in diameter.

Some orchards here prune back to "leader" branches (keeping only the larger branches for the next years new growth).

If you prune in the order I listed earlier, you will have good light penetration every year.
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks so much! I'll keep all this in mind in the fall and look forward to a bigger tree and even more peaches next year (hopefully!)

Here's a couple of pics from last night. Still waiting for the peaches to soften just a little before I start picking.
Bruce
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Bruce Woodford
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Odds are, in Ontario, particularly if it is a free stone, that it is either Alberta peach or Harmony peach.
The flesh of the Harmony peach is more yellow than the Alberta which is more orange.

Redhawk


Well here is the first peach to ripen from our "volunteer" tree. Seems the flesh is quite yellow, it is definitely a freestone, so does this mean that we have a "Harmony"?
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Joseph Lofthouse
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Bruce Woodford wrote:does this mean that we have a "Harmony"?


More like a "New Harmony".
 
Bryant RedHawk
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That indeed looks like a harmony peach to me, right color and good separating free stone.
 
Bruce Woodford
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So Joe, for this "peach dummy".... what's the difference between a "Harmony" and a "New Harmony"?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Kola Joseph, I've never seen nor heard of a "New Harmony" peach variety but would love to grow one, please let me know where I can find one of these.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Another question: I definitely want to grow more peach trees from this one (which seems to be a "Harmony".)  Have been reading a bit about growing a tree from a hardwood stick cut from the tree and rooted.  Would this method give you a bit of a "head start" over growing from a pit?  What would be the advantages/disadvantages of each method?  What is the best way to insure rooting of a stick cut from the tree?

I'd really appreciate any advice from those who know what they're doing when it comes to peach propagation!

Thanks in advance!
Bruce Woodford
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Bruce Woodford wrote:Another question: I definitely want to grow more peach trees from this one (which seems to be a "Harmony".)  Have been reading a bit about growing a tree from a hardwood stick cut from the tree and rooted.  Would this method give you a bit of a "head start" over growing from a pit?  What would be the advantages/disadvantages of each method?  What is the best way to insure rooting of a stick cut from the tree?

I'd really appreciate any advice from those who know what they're doing when it comes to peach propagation!

Thanks in advance!
Bruce Woodford


The most sure fire method is air layering when you want to use a branch to create a new tree.
You make 4 slits in the bark about 3 inches long equally spaced around the branch where you want the new roots to grow.
Then you apply a rooting hormone or rooting solution to there slits and wrap damp sphagnum moss around the area then wrap with plastic and tie off at each end loose enough to not bite into the bark.
Check the area for moisture weekly and in about 1 to 2 months you should see white roots coming through the moss.
When the roots are wrapping around it is time to cut the branch loose below the new roots and plant in a fairly large pot to allow the roots to continue to develop.
Once the new tree is pretty well established in the pot you can plant it where you want it to grow in the soil.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks Redhawk!  I'd never thought of that! Since I plan in 2 or 3 months to prune off a number of lower branches that are hanging really low. I decided yesterday to do as you suggested. I bought some rooting gel and peat moss, slit the bark on the branches as you said, applied the gel and wet peat moss, wrapped it with plastic wrap and fastened it in place with black electrical tape.  Not sure this is the best time of year to try this but I can't lose so thought I'd see if I can have some new trees rather than just dead dried branches! Will post some pics in a couple of days and keep you posted on the outcome.

BTW, I'm harvesting a few peaches every day as they start to become slightly soft as I squeeze them between thumb and forefinger. Love that tree-ripened taste!

Bruce
 
Bruce Woodford
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
The most sure fire method is air layering when you want to use a branch to create a new tree.
You make 4 slits in the bark about 3 inches long equally spaced around the branch where you want the new roots to grow.
Then you apply a rooting hormone or rooting solution to there slits and wrap damp sphagnum moss around the area then wrap with plastic and tie off at each end loose enough to not bite into the bark.
Check the area for moisture weekly and in about 1 to 2 months you should see white roots coming through the moss.
When the roots are wrapping around it is time to cut the branch loose below the new roots and plant in a fairly large pot to allow the roots to continue to develop.
Once the new tree is pretty well established in the pot you can plant it where you want it to grow in the soil. Redhawk


Here are a couple of pics of my first attempt at air layering on peach branches. Will keep you posted on their progress. (This was done about a week ago.)
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Bruce Woodford
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I'm keeping the peat moss around these branches wet but so far, no sign of any roots.
Question: If they don't root before frost comes, would I be best to leave them on the tree till spring OR cut them off after the tree is dormant for a while and seek to root them in soil in the house?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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They need to form roots prior to frost or you would need to either frost blanket them or cut the off and root indoors.
I usually try to give my air layering 3 months to get some really good roots going.

You can speed up the rooting by adding some Vitamin B-12 or a B complex vitamin watering to the sphagnum moss. I would make up a quart (liter) for the number of rootings you have started in the photos.
for a quart (liter) I would use 2 tablets to the liter of water and use as is since you are trying to jolt the branch into making roots quickly.

If you decide to bring them indoors then make up that liter solution and dilute to 1/2 strength since you would need to pot up the cuttings.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Redhawk, I'm sure glad there's someone here who knows what they are doing so dummies like me can get the help we need! I'll certainly try your Vitamin B treatment and see what happens! We're having unusually warm weather here for late September (up in the 80's F)! So maybe this will give me some extra time before frost!

Bruce
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Just keep track of the night time temp. trend, the climatic changes are wreaking havoc on "the norm" everyone used to be able to go by.

In My state the temps have moved enough that we rarely see non spring like weather until very late December or even January, then the temps start coming back up at the beginning of March.

I encourage you to keep a daily or weekly record of the temperatures, it will help you develop the trend for your area and that will help you know the correct plant times, as well as the true end of the growing season as we get further into the changing time.

Redhawk
 
Bruce Woodford
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Thanks Redhawk! This year certainly is different from most others. We can get a bit of frost in September some years but this year we are having daytime temps in the 90's F and only down to 60's at night this past week! Hope this means a little longer to get some roots going!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Over the past 20  years I have documented the climate changes happening in Arkansas, they are rather troubling to me but nothing I didn't expect.

Prior to 2000, we didn't have more than two weeks of either spring or fall, now we have closer to 2 months of these seasons and the wet season has been extended through August, previously a draught month.
Over all, we get rains more frequently than at any time in the last 50 years and some rain events are far heavier rain fall for extended periods of time.
Winters used to be Ice storms, now we see snows but mostly neither fall from the sky. When we do get a snow event we now will see up to 6 inches more than at anytime than previously would fall.

These observations have caused me to start documenting the Gulf Stream Oceanic current, the temperatures of this current are dropping lower every year, a result of the ice caps melting most likely.

We are in the rollercoaster of weather right now and it is not going to stop any time soon it would appear.
I expect longer growing seasons along with more moisture as the conditions continue to change.
My biggest worry is the fruit trees that need a certain number of chill hours, it might get to the point that these are not met and that will mean no fruit.

Redhawk
 
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