Pruned my Redhaven Peach tree yesterday

kokos(6a)February 4, 2013

I pruned my Red haven Peach tree yesterday...the bulk of the coldest weather is mostly past now. Jan is coldest here.
Should be ok eh? it is zone 6 here hasn't been colder than -19C here this year, didn't last very long.

Was -10 here this morning (14 F)...

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

According to Jerry Frecon recently retired extension horticulturist from NJ, pruning in March/April reduces canker, tree death, and fruit loss. He does say it's less important now due to warmer winters.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:13AM
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I've always heard peach tree pruning stimulates growth so I hold off until early March and I live down here in central Alabama. The reason being, ideally, you don't want the blossoms to wake up before all of the blossom-killing frost potential is gone. Also, you don't want any below freezing weather to sneak in before those fresh cuts can heal. But I've been known to be wrong before.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Tree death and canker? how do they get that?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:00PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I'm just quoting what it said in this issue of the Good Fruit Grower. Pruning later, just before growth begins, would allow faster healing. I assume that would equate to less canker.

Early pruning apparently "wakes" the tree up somewhat sooner which could result in freeze injury to the tree and flower loss.

I don't see any advantage to pruning early for the home grower. Commercially they used to start early because they had so much to do.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:31PM
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A few articles on peaches I've read all say not to prune peach in the winter or when it's very cold. The main reason is similar to what Fruitnut mentioned. It will weaken the cold hardiness of the tree and make it become more susceptible to diseases and die back.

You and I are in the same zone. It's cold out. I've walked around my peach trees many times and felt very tempted to prune. However, I'd rather wait until March.

Many posters here also recommended summer pruning for peach trees. I figure if I miss pruning in March, I can still do it in the summer.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:00PM
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alan haigh

I have never seen any research indicating pruning pulls trees out of dormancy and am very doubtful. Why would earlier pruning be more stimulating than a few weeks later?

Canker is not a big problem with young healthy peach trees. Don't worry, you will be fine. Feb is the new March and I have pruned hundreds of peach trees that have subsequently faced below 0 F. weather. Never caused any canker.

I prune my own trees when they start to grow but I don't like charging my clients for extra trips just to do 20 minutes pruning on a few peach trees. The trees don't come out of dormancy sooner.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Here in northwest Florida, I wait until late February. That's what the local nurseries recommend. Less chance of infection because the plant will heal faster when it's not dormant.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:01PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"I have never seen any research indicating pruning pulls trees out of dormancy and am very doubtful. Why would earlier pruning be more stimulating than a few weeks later?"

I've read pruning peach after chill is met will advance bloom. That said, I've pruned peach about any time but never monitored subsequent bloom time, so I can't say how it affects bloom, at least from close observation.


I think you'll be fine pruning your peach tree this time of year. As Fruitnut mentioned, commercial peach growers around here prune all winter long because there is so much to do. I've also pruned in the winter and never noticed any canker from it. I've had more problems with canker from pruning in the summer and opening up the middle of the trees too much. The intense summer sun can sunburn the exposed bark which leaves a place for canker to start.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:02AM
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alan haigh

Like I say, I haven't seen actual research. There are a lot of myths in the realm- even dispensed by university advisers. Doctors used to think that reducing a fever speeded recovery from colds. Eventually research showed it slowed recovery when fever is reduced. Medicine if full of this kind of thing so imagine how much is involved in horticulture where research is more sparse.

Olpea, why don't you prune a couple of your peach trees early and see if they flower before your later pruned trees? Maybe you can settle this like you settled the PB, PP bon bon myth.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 6:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


You can read what I'm passing along on page 6 of GFG vol64 no3 February 1 2013 issue. Maybe you don't think much of Jerry Frecon but he apparently thought that the highlight of his 30 years at Rutgers.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:00PM
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alan haigh

FN, there's nothing in the article I disagree with- I simply stated that Feb is the new March. I used to wait until March to prune peaches- even April. As he states, the weather is getting warmer and the risk has diminished. Here it used to sometimes drop to zero in March.

Canker is not much an issue with young trees- it is after they are 6 or 7 years old that they seem to become susceptible- at least with trees I manage.

Determining best timing of pruning was not mentioned by him as the highlight of his career- it was sited by the writer as one of his early accomplishments. In the article he specifically states that timing is less important now because of warmer winters.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:40PM
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alan haigh

By the way, FN, having different opinions here doesn't make anyone wrong. We all bring different experiences and approaches to growing fruit. I tend to be a question authority type and I enjoy trying things contrary to educated advice. I make much more profit with my business for things I've tried directly against Cornell recommendations.

There are many factors involved with growing fruit that aren't actually covered by research or are incompletely covered where experts are actually only expressing opinions based on what they consider a logical reading of research. More often than not this advice is good but it is rarely gospel. When my experience contradicts such advice I enjoy posting it here, although I realize it is only one persons experience and not as reliable as research based conclusions.

When I contradict you it is just a case of two experienced growers having different opinions. I do think I know more about growing peaches in Z6 than you do, though. I would defer to you on advice about growing fruit in the southwest. Obviously you are the absolute guru here on growing fruit under plastic.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:47AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

I think your tree will be fine. Pruning is so important for the health and productivity of peach trees. I personally prune when I have the time and inclination. Sometime that is August, October, or most recently in early January.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:36AM
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