When should I feed my young peach trees? They are 2 years old.
I was told in my area to stop feeding around July, so as to make sure you didn't have a lot of soft growth right before freezing weather.
I put horse stall litter around the trees as mulch, then toss a shovel full of cottonseed meal around every month during growing season up to July. I chop up the leaves around my house spread them around the trees and they seem to like that best of all.
I don't pretend this is necessarily optimal. I'd say most people on the forum opt for organic fertilizer even if they do not otherwise grow organically. Low wattage, consistent supply of nutrients is helpful.
My experience says the less vigorous your trees the sweeter and better the fruit will be. So I don't fertilize unless the tree shows nutrient deficiency symptoms. Most of my trees have had little to no fertilizer for seven years. I'm speaking mainly of nitrogen in this regard and I've had one tree show light color leaves in all that time. The year it was light green the nectarines were 22-24 brix and some of the best fruit I've ever eaten.
Lots of fertilizer will give you a pretty green tree with lots of vegetative growth. But I really think that's not best for eating quality of the fruit.
Fruitnuts method may be great for a bearing tree but it is not the best way to get a small tree to bearing size. Worry about the quality of fruit once tree is established, meanwhile, fertilize the tree twice, once at bud break and once in early summer with the quickest release N your methods allow for.
It is best to base amounts on a soil test. About a third an ounce actual N per 10 sq. ft. would be absolute maximum I'd use.
Peach trees that lack vigor tend to die young here, which has a very negative affect on the quality of fruit.
I fertilize like mad for the first two or three years, to push the tree. Then give it little or no nitrogen after that. Fruitnut is spot on.
BTW I also cut back on the watering after the tree is established.
I've conducted dozens of nitrogen fertility trials on many field and vegetable crops but not fruit crops. Still my confidence in spotting a nitrogen deficiency in anything is pretty high. This makes it pretty easy to forgo nitrogen applications. I do apply a little nitrogen to young trees especially where they must compete with older trees nearby. Also when you are planting stone fruit 2ft by 8ft, rapid vegetative growth isn't top priority.
My young trees grow about 4ft the first year. I'm not sure how much they grow later because I'm summer pruning every time there is about 18-24 inches of growth. In spring they'll grow that much in 4-6 weeks.
I actually don't know how much a lower level of fertility and the associated reduction in vigor improves brix or flavor of stone fruit. That's because I'm generally holding nitrogen as low as I can. Can't go below none applied in 7 years. The only source for in-ground trees is the natural mineralization from the soil. I just know that in crops like sugarbeet and carrot, high nitrogen kills brix. That makes me think stone fruit will follow suit.
Just trying to be clear on my actual experience and not make it more than it is.