Is there any reason I cant espalier a contender peach tree? Why are apples and pears so commonly associated with esapalier training, but not other fruit trees?
Apples and pears produce fruit on long-lived growths called spurs. Not exclusively, perhaps, but mostly.
Peaches, and most other stone fruits, produce best on one or two year old wood. Peaches should be constantly renovated by pruning so that there is new growth for fruiting. If you were to espalier a peach, the old growth of the scaffold that you have pinned up would become unproductive.
I am sure someone has tried it, but the best way to grow peaches remains stand-alone trees pruned to an open center. In zone 4, your biggest challenge with peach trees will be to get the fruiting buds through winter without freezing.
Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA
Agreed with Don, Espalier doesn't work well for peaches. Peaches in England are usually grown in a "fan" against a wall. A fan is like an espalier in that it is flat, but you let the branches grow their normal angle. Basically to make a fan you prune off any limb going too much into or out of the wall, to make it a flattish tree. In England they have to do this since they have too little sun for peaches, but it should work anywhere.
PS see below for an English article on the details of fan training of peach trees. The "proper" fan training is much more involved than the simplified version I gave above. Make sure to keep clicking on next page to read the whole thing.
Here is a link that might be useful: England fan training
Thanks everyone for the info.
My dreams of juicy peaches are fading fast. I have no room for a stand alone tree. I'm not worried about my zone. According to gurney's, contender peaches are hardy to zone 4.
Since I haved nothing better to do except fuss over my garden, I may still try to grow a fan tree, but it is intimidating. But what is life without a challenge?
Matt, if you are intimidated just do the easy version I mentioned above. The English are quite obsessive with their gardens and that level of detail is something foreign to the American way of growing fruit (unless you are a professional).
Also, zone 4 is borderline for peaches and you need to look carefully for a protected spot for it.
Just a thought as I am still a rookie. What would happen if you were to just get the frame work of espalier, maybe 3 or 4 scaffolds coming off each side, and the keeping the growth off of those pruned to keep new growth. Might be a way to get at least a small crop of peaches, i could see a tree about 10 feet tall with 4 branches going out about 5 feet each with some growth. Maybe have a tree 10ft X 10ft X 3ft?????
If you have limited space & want to try growing a peach in a fan form, you should definitely try it! I have not yet planted a peach fan, but IÂm working on a sour cherry fan, which has the same pruning requirements because fruit is primarily produced on last yearÂs shoots. The warning given is that the pruning is demanding since in addition to the constant need for renewal pruning, there are not the variety of dwarfing rootstocks for peach/cherry that are available for apples.
Anyway, if you like pruning and tying new growth, you might like it. If you want a tree that "takes care of itself," you probably wonÂt be happy with a fan-trained peach.
The American Horticultural SocietyÂs Pruning & Training has detailed instructions on the subject. You may be able to check out a copy at your local library.
Do you get less fruit on a fan peach tree?
Can someone make a recommendation for a cultivator for zone 7? I would like to try the fan espallier in an area that gets a lot of direct sun.