Next summer the peaches you enjoy will be the result of hard work on the part of orchard growers all across Texas. Whether you enjoy East Texas peaches, Parker County peaches, the ‘redskin’ peaches from the hill country or any others remember peach orchards are labor intensive operations. In our small orchard, we gathered around our peach tree as Jeff Raska clipped away at it.
Here’s some of what we learned:
Prune your peach tree for the best possible peaches at picking height, as disease free as possible, with maximum production. Our peach tree tops out at 8 feet and has 4-5 main branches.
- Your peach tree should be open in the center so that the fruit receives maximum sunlight and air flow. They call this the wine goblet effect.
Can you find the goblet shape in the peach tree above?
- Cut off dead wood, suckers and all branches that cross.
- Remove any spindly, pencil-thin branches and any that are growing toward the interior of the tree.
- Remove older gray shoots; they will not fruit. Leave 1 year old reddish color shoots.
- Remove limbs that grow straight up. They are called water limbs. We removed 2 water limbs, 10 feet each.
- Prune out any branches that are growing horizontal or downward. They have a tendency to break when the fruit gets heavy.
- Cut back the remaining red shoots to about 18 inches, at an outward facing bud.
Above: The angle of this cut causes the branch to grow away from the center of the tree.
Fruit thinning will be the next major job. Fruit thinning can be done by hand when the fruit is the size of a quarter. This allows the remaining fruit to be larger and spaced out on alternate sides of the branches. A mature peach tree should produce 300-400 peaches in a season.
Pictures by Starla Willis
Maybe now you want to try grape pruning and planting, Saturday, April 14th from 10am-11:30am. This class will be taught by Stephen Hudkins at The Raincatcher’s Garden. Info here.