Still-Dormant Peach

alh_in_flMarch 29, 2012

Hi-

I'm in northern Florida and I'm new.

I planted two low-chill peach trees (FlordaSun variety) in January. They are about 5 feet high.

They have not yet broken dormancy. The buds are still tightly closed. Is this normal? It's been warm for weeks now, and everything else in my yard is leafing out.

The branches are showing some greenish color so I don't think they're dead.

Does anyone know what's going on? Thank you.

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denninmi(8a)

Um, yeah, no --- after that long, if they're not leafed out, they're dead, not dormant. Sometimes, transplants will do this. "Difficult" species like paw paws are more prone to this than easy to transplant species, but it can happen to any kind of tree.

I'd say your odds of a "miracle" bringing them back to life at this point are close to 0.

They could have been mis-handled before you ever got them, dried out or something. Hard to say.

I'd try to get a refund from wherever you bought them and replace with some that are actively growing either now or at the next appropriate season for your region/zone.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:29PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'd say its dead...

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:37PM
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alh_in_fl

Well, that would be a bummer if they are dead. :-(
I was hoping maybe they were in transplant shock, or something.

I thought if the branches showed some green it meant they're still alive? I haven't tried cutting into a branch to see what it looks like inside. I guess I'll do that, if that will be more enlightening.

I got the trees from a grower about an hour away-- they were in pots and I put them in the ground soon after I got them and never let them dry out. Maybe they were DOA. I guess I'll take them back if nothing happens in another week or two.

I bought rabbiteye blueberries and a fig tree from the same guy. Both were initially dormant, but now they are going great guns-- especially the fig.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:49PM
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thapranksta(Mid TN 7A)

Man, that sucks. I planted a young branched Redhaven peach tree, two plum whips, and an Asian pear whip on March 17th. All of which were bare root and shipped from as far away as Washington state. All of mine started leafing out a little on the 2nd day after planting with the peach leafing out at the fastest rate and the Asian pear leafing out at the slowing rate. I was pleasantly surprised with this being my first attempt with fruit trees. If all I've read is correct, peach trees grow somewhat aggressively and in your warm climate you should have tons of leaves by now.

Hopefully you will get some good news from one of the experienced peach growers like olpea but right now it looks bad

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:30PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

No, I'm afraid I can't offer much hope either. All but one of my peach trees I planted this season leafed out in a few days (I think the one that didn't is dead.)

There's a small possibility that your peach trees didn't get quite enough chill this winter (even though they are a low chill variety). If that's the case, perhaps they will yet bud out, but there is a good chance they're dead.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:02PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well, do a scratch test first, to see if you have green cambium showing. I have a couple of low chill late varieties that are just "waking up", now. Bella Gold Peacotum for one.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:50PM
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alh_in_fl

OK, I scratched on the main trunk and on one of the smaller branches. Both were very green inside and not dried out or anything.

Is it alive?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

It surprised me everyone except for Patty said it was dead. You didn't say how much sun it is getting. It is probably alive and well.

My peach trees are just now starting to leaf out here in South GA. Not sure where you are in FL but I know you did not many chill hours.

Give it a chance.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:44PM
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alh_in_fl

Randy- the peach trees are getting sun all morning and the first part of the afternoon.

As for chill hours, I was worried about that too, on account of the mild winter.
However, I know that the Flordasun cultivar is grown successfully as far south as Orlando and Tampa, and I'm 100+ miles north of there.
FlordaSun is supposed to require a minimum of 300 chill hours. I looked up the record of accumulated chill hours for our nearest station on
http://agroclimate.org/tools/ChillAccum/ and it said at that station (Alachua) here have been 484 chill hours. So it seems it ought to have had enough chill.

I wonder what else could be the problem?

Every day my son yells "WAKE UP!" at the these lazy trees. (Maybe he scared them) :-)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 9:54PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

alh_in_fl-

Just to give you a comparison. My Red Baron peach tree just last week started leafing out from about 7 different spots that I thought were "dead". It has been in the ground for a year and has about five 1 year branches on it. The buds are still closed but are swollen and just now turning to pink.

Are your buds small and crispy blackish looking? Or big and fuzzy with a light grey look to them?

Can you see ANY green shoot growth from any of the bud sites?

I will give you hope and say it is just slow...or maybe water logged? Peaches dont like wet feet so Ive heard.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:08PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"My peach trees are just now starting to leaf out here in South GA. Not sure where you are in FL but I know you did not many chill hours."

Maybe it's different with peach trees in places that have little winter, which is kind of what I was hinting at when I mentioned chill hours. I've no experience in these climates.

We get so much chill here, at the first extended warm spell, peaches pop.

There are a couple things that offer evidence the trees are alive. One of course is the scratch test, although as a tree is first dying, it will still have green tissue, but the tissue gets paler and paler until it turns brown, so it's not a guarantee of life.

The other thing is that I just can't think what would kill a peach tree that quickly in FL from a nursery an hour away.

I think peach trees aren't easy to kill from letting the roots dry out.

A couple weeks ago I dug up a peach tree I planted last year to move it to a different location. I found crown gall on the roots and decided not to move it and threw it on a brush pile. After a couple days I changed my mind and decided to move it. The tree had been sitting on top of that brush pile for two days. One of the days was very sunny and windy, the other day was overcast and rainy. The roots were bone dry. I cut the galls off the roots and planted it. In a few days it was pushing new growth.

Trees are obviously easier to kill in the growing season, but if the nursery killed the tree last summer, I wouldn't expect the bark to still be green.

As Blaze rightly points out, water logged trees will break bud later than they should, but I had assumed your Florida soil drains well. You're not in the Everglades are you? :-)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:29PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Here is a nice pic for info on the bud cycle

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:15AM
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denninmi(8a)

I still stick by my original comment, that the odds of these trees growing are slim. But, if you want to try something:

Here is a link that might be useful: Old thread about this problem

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 6:29AM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

This might help. I got a peach tree from stark bro a month ago. It leafed out three weeks before my established peach trees. Add to that none of my none red apples have leafed out yet like a Mutsu.This warm winter has everything screwed up.

alh_in_fl check with your extension agent but normally here in the South, we cut peach trees off 30" above the ground when planted.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 7:28AM
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alh_in_fl

Olpea-- No, not in the Everglades by a long, long way! The soil here is sandy and well-drained. (Citrus loves it.) I'm glad to hear your stories of the hard-to-kill peaches.

Blaze-- The buds are small, no green at all. But they are fuzzy and a kind of gray-brown color. They look like the first photo in the montage of bud pictures.

Denninmi- I may try the sweating soon if nothing happens.

Randy-- Yeah, it's been a weird winter. It started warming up considerably in early February, but then we had two more snaps of near-freezing temperatures in late Feb. I guess that could confuse a tree. (Though only the peaches seem confused...)

I am going out of town for a few days, and I think I'll call the grower and/or sweat the trees if nothing has happened by the time I return.

You have all been very helpful. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:33AM
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alh_in_fl

So I was out of town for a few days-- came home and the peaches are still just sitting there, but their small branches are a little greener than before. Under the surface they are very green.

I called the grower from whom I bought them. He said that now would be about the time he would expect them to just start leafing out. Said he had a number of peaches still dormant as well. Sooo... I guess I will wait!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:47PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

My Red Baron is just now getting the brown on the buds with a couple about to pink.

Does your peach tree get shade during the middle of the day? Or in the shade for some of the day? My tree gets shade starting before high noon for a couple of hours after. I dont know if that has slowed it down but I think it has. Mixed with a little over watering.

Just give it some more time and if not there is always next year:)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 3:26PM
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alh_in_fl

Blaze,
The peaches get good sun until about 3 PM. During midday they're in full sun. (They're shaded on the west side only.) I might be watering more than necessary. However the soil is very well drained so I don't think they would be getting "wet feet".

If they do not leaf out this year, will they be able to survive until the following spring? I would think they would get short of food, not being able to photosynthesize.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 2:15PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

I dont know. Stop watering until it leafs out or blooms. Check with your finger in the soil and if its too wet youll know it. Check about 3" - 4" down and if its dry all the way down then water. You should only really need to water when the plant is starting to leaf and bloom then you water deep and let it dry out in between watering.

If nothing happens this year I would get rid of it for a new tree. Or keep it and buy a new tree anyways..hehehe

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:19PM
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alh_in_fl

So yesterday some leaves started coming out on one of my peach trees! Hurrah! About time.

Blaze --I hadn't watered it since Friday. I don't know if that helped or if it was just coincidental, but they're alive.

Thanks for all the advice.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 12:44PM
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thapranksta(Mid TN 7A)

That's great! I know you feel a lot better now.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 5:03PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Sweet!! Never count a tree out until its black! Good luck.

Im still waiting for one of my peaches to break bud. I did see one little green bud burst this morning though so I hope is continues.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 8:30AM
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mrsg47(7)

It was a weird winter for sure! My white Nectarine still has grey fuzzy buds with a hint of pink showing through. But they seem to be stopping right there. So sign of green anywhere. I even had two open buds, but they were killed with our last frost two weeks ago. There are still signs of pink on the buds, but they a slowly fading to white. I pruned a few more branches off of the tree and they smelled like rotten prunes. NOT a good sign. Ugh

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:34AM
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murkwell

I bought a Frost peach from Lowes (I know, bad idea) that didn't leaf out. I planted it in late Feb or early March.

After I had begun planning what to put in its place, just about a week ago I noticed the buds had broken and leaves were beginning to form.

This was the end of May. My existing peach trees have leaves and marble sized peaches on them already. I performed new plum, pear and apple grafts after I had planted that tree that had all leafed out and started growing before that one broke dormancy.

I can't explain it, hopefully the tree thrives from here on.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 6:02PM
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