Penn State: Merits on High Density Peach

mamuang_gwJanuary 21, 2014

Hi There,

I came across this video yesterday and found it interesting. It was recently posted by Penn State U.

I posted it incorrectly on another thread but think I should give it its own thread.

I'm interested to hear your comments/input after watching this video, please.

Here's the link to that video on YouTube

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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

Looks like the Quad system is the most productive way to train the peach tree.


Here is a link that might be useful: Penn. State U. Peach

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 6:17PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thanks for the link, interesting video. It shows how 10' or less spacing in peaches is optimal for yields, which sounds right to me. These pruning systems are meant for professionals so they can balance loads, they use main scaffolds with no big branches at all off of them. It allows a mechanical approach to pruning, 25 fruitlet branches per scaffold is his formula on 14' tall scaffolds.

One thing he should have mentioned is feet per scaffold, if you can get evenly-spaced scaffolds it doesn't matter how close or far the trunks are apart but how dense the scaffolds are. The quads (4 scaffolds per tree) at 7' spacing beat out the duo's (2 scaffolds) at 5' spacing: quads average a scaffold every 1.75 feet and the duos have a scaffold every 2.5 feet and 2.5 feet is not optimal density. The hexes have a scaffold every 1.7 feet and he says they are very similar to the quads which is obvious if you count how much space each scaffold has (1.7 vs 1.75, almost the same). Also if he left three scaffolds on the 5' spacing instead of 2 he would have had 5/3 = 1.7' per scaffold and probably would have gotten the same yield as the quad/hex guys. So the 5' spacing wasn't bad per se, it was the number of scaffolds he picked.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 7:13PM
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Tony - When I started the tread, I could not find an option for the Optinal Link URL. Thanks for making it easier to open the link.

Scott - Thanks for your comment. I still want my trees short/low so open-center is my choice of a pruning system. I will work on optimize the quality of the fruit instead of maximizing the yield.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:28PM
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Looks like some decent BYOC action going on back East. On vigorous roots to boot. Good stuff!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 10:53PM
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Just curious if this inspires anyone in the East.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:06PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Well some of my trees might work better on a modified Quad V, one that is lower in height than the video. I did notice about 3 other Universities came to the same conclusion that the quad V system is the most productive.
The quad V is an orchard system, not a backyard system. It's too tall, but should work as well at shorter heights. I'm just considering it with a couple trees that will be set back longer if I opt for open center instead.
The most impressive system for me is the KGB pruning for cherries. It is only 8 feet tall. Makes a lot of sense and manages the problems with dwarfing rootstocks well. Loss of vigor with mature trees is a problem, the KGB system solves it with scaffold renewal.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:28PM
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alan haigh

Seems somewhat meaningless to the home grower. Comparison is only for a few short years of young trees. Would like to see a comparison after eight years of production including brix measurements. Brix is more important to the home grower than a small or even moderate percentage increase in yield.

Crowding trees don't become a problem for me for almost a decade after planting.

Mr. Clint, this is not at all like the tight spacing used in 4 in 1. Might have been interesting to see how two per hole would work comparatively where root competition would be immediate. Apparently, with peaches, this competition begins very early, even when planted at some distance. At least in an open field.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 6:04AM
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Scott, I just saw your orchard photos. Are you using any specific method to prune your peach trees? Or just pruning to keep them small? Most peach pruning methods I've seen instruct to prune the main leader low, and use four main scaffold branches to create the vase shape. I saw another method, supposedly better for the home orchard, that allowed the leader to grow taller, and had a second group of scaffold branches about the lower set. I have seven peach trees to prune and am trying to decide the best method.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:50AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It's certain that if you are doubling the yield and fruit size is reduced, as with the most productive system, then fruit eating quality is suffering. So I agree with harvestman, show me the brix readings. No one wants to talk about that but won't most homeowners rather have higher brix than more yield? And if homeowners want higher brix won't most customers? I'll answer my own questions, yes. But the video says nothing about eating quality that I remember, par for the course.

All the university or growers care about is profit.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 10:25

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:19AM
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I planted 2 new peaches and a nectarine last summer and have another 3 peaches and nectarine on order this year, that I plan to try pruning to a quad-v variant. I want the scaffold angles to be more like 60 degrees and to keep the height at 8-9 ft. It basically will be like an open vase with 4 scaffolds and limited branching. I thought that the renewal pruning for this type of system looks easy, and I just wanted to try it out.

Unfortunately the deer have pruned a few branches of last year's planting, going to have to see how I can make 4 scaffolds out of what is left on one of the trees.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:10AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I want to try it because I didn't tie branches down, and on one nectarine the trunk angles from heading are at about 60 degrees, or maybe more. instead of chopping them off again, I thought about the quad v. it seems the peaches naturally grow at this angle. Plus I'm moving in 5 years and all will be left. So quick productivity is disirable at this point. Also as far as productivity, fruit thining and water retention will control size and brix. The training system has little to do with that. They will be headed so won't be as tall so also not as productive.
I would call what Eboone and I are thinking is a "modified" Quad.-V. It will not be as productive.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 11:25

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:21AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


It could be as productive if you compensate for less height by going narrower rows. You don't need tractors so row width can be pretty narrow. But again the most production isn't compatible with the best eating fruit.

I was going to go very narrow in my greenhouse but after more thought went back at 8ft. Would have liked to try 6ft rows 7ft tall with the productive canopy between 3 and 7ft for easy reach. But just couldn't do that around what's already in there. Outside I'm in 6-7ft rows for peach and apricot. Never been that tight before. If necessary I'll thin trees or rows.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 15:58

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Rob, I don't use a method per se, instead I use some rough principles that I adapt to each tree. I do start with low scaffolds but I may end up with only 2 or even 1 scaffold as the tree matures. 1 scaffold is only in super narrow spacing areas, most of my trees are Vs at the 3' spacing thats the most common. I don't have super low scaffolds heading out from the main trunk, due to deer and easy mowing I have moved things a bit higher up. Many of my rows are only 10' apart and if the scaffolds are all heading out at 2' from the trunk you will not have a row to walk in after things have filled in. 10' was probably too close but I adapted my pruning method to account for that.

Anyway the above is very much based on my planting the trees in a 3'x10' arrangement; if the spacing was different I would be pruning a lot differently and if your trees are not 3'x10' its probably not super relevant for you.

Re: the above article, I agree its intended for commercial growers and isn't super relevant to home growers. But it does help elucidate some principles of pruning: every different approach and results from it are useful information. Fruitnut, Re: brix I notice he mentioned they are always irrigating near harvest time: pump water into the fruit! Thats the exact opposite of what a home grower wants and its a reason why grocery store fruit is so mediocre.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 3:53PM
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I as a home grower don't need to worry about productivity as a commercial grower would. I'm looking for a staggered harvest of peaches and nects from early-mid July to late Sept, if I can. In the past I have had more than enough peaches to stuff myself silly with, freeze, can, make ice cream out of, and give up to a couple bushels away in a season when I got a decent harvest, all from 4-5 trees. I am replacing 2 trees on a property I am selling, and planning for the replacement of my 3 other approx 20 year old trees, expecting to have 7-8 peaches/nects when I am done planting. I am looking for a way to keep my work managable - the pruning on this system seems to take less taxation on my brain cells to get right, keeping the scaffolds at 8-9 ft means I won't fall off of more ladders, and spraying for all that #*$@&$ PC, OFM, and brown rot will be easier. I don't really plan on planting quite as close as the system calls for - I have more than enough room, and want to be able to walk between trees.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:55PM
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alan haigh

Fine, as long as you don't need baffles for coons and squirrels and don't have a browsing deer population.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 6:04PM
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The deer are a problem, browsing on the trees, not the peaches though.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 6:22PM
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alan haigh

The deer here browse the leaves and when they are hungry will eat the peaches. I train most orchards with a long trunk and branches high enough to be above the browse line.

The last few days I've been pruning a small commercial apple orchard with deer fencing. Nice to work on some trees where I don't need a ladder.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:00PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"The deer here browse the leaves"
Interesting. The deer have left my peaches alone so far, but will readily eat apple, plum and cherry leaves. I suppose it all depends on available food sources nearby. We have lots of bean and corn fields for deer to stuff themselves with.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:33PM
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Harvestman, people in the East want a version of BYOC that they can live with. 5', 7' and 10' spacing, as stated in the video, is still better than the standard recommended 18' for home growers. scottsmith and others that are open to the concept will find the sweet spot in time. People will continue to push the envelope and Easterners will all be the better for it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:47PM
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alan haigh

Mr. Clint, that I completely agree with. Of course I have conflicting interests on this issue. While close spacing makes it possible for me to sell more trees it also complicates pruning. Wears me out having to use every trick in the book to keep trees too closely spaced in a productive state.

I'm in the process of pruning several acres of apple trees where vigorous varieties on 7 or 11 are planted at about 8' spacing in some rows. Mutsu and Northern Spy are in the mix.

Trees were 20 years old and a structural mess when I was hired to sort things out, so it is not an example of managed BYOC, but once those roots are such a force to generate vegetative growth it is trying to coax the trees to a level of calmness that allows them to become responsible parents of healthy crops.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 5:29AM
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Olpea, Deer sometimes don't eat stuff because just they haven't before. Once they do then it becomes a regular menu item for them.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:56AM
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