first year pruning of a contender peach tree

mattjjd24(4 upstate NY)May 22, 2013

First off, please forgive me for not knowing the jargon of fruit trees precisely. I'll muddle my way through and I think you will get the idea.

Earlier this spring I planted a contender peach tree. I'm growing it in a fairly confined space and I want to train it to an open cup formation. So I followed some instructions I had read and cut the leader down to about 30 inches. At that time, no branches or anything was left below my cut.

Now its sprouting branches all over. I can see a few going in just the right direction that I think I"m going to want, so I figure I'll keep them. These are pretty low on the tree, but above the graft site.

My questions are... 1) The new branches sprouting above the branches I want to keep...should I prune them now? Let them grow and prune them later?

If I keep the stump of the central leader, it will be about a foot above the brances I'm planning on keeping, and I think it might look funnyin the long run. Should I just cut down the central leader to just above the branches I plan on keeping? If so, when? Now, or next year?

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mattjjd24(4 upstate NY)

I'm adding a picture of my little baby. I dont know if it helps, but I am proud.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 8:20PM
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Hey matt,
Here is a pdf file about pruning.It has a section about Peach trees on page 10. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 2:19AM
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alan haigh

That file locked up my computer pretty good- froze it out for 5 minutes.

I say let the tree grow for now and in mid season start to steer it by pinching back the shoots you don' want, removing only the very tips.

You can also rub off the shoots you don't need now, but I like the added security and also the added photosynthate of pinching. Ultimately either will work about as well.

The only mistake is letting branches you don't want dominate.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 5:50AM
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Alright,here's a way to the file from another site.It worked for me when clicking the PNW 400,"Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard" hyperlink. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon State University Extension Service

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Not bad matt...... Sounds like youre going for an "open center" method, which from what ive read is the most recommended style of pruning for peach.

The top 3 buds should be your main scaffolds, and anything below the lowest scaffold (main 3 branches) should be removed. Not sure if you want to remove them now as buds, or remove them as the tree gets growing...

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:52AM
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alan haigh

There is nothing wrong with starting with extra branches as far as I'm concerned. I've seen research that shows that trees with temporary branches left low on the trunk create a more tapered and stronger tree- not that this is necessarily relevant to peaches.

I've never seen any research that shows that reducing a tree to only your permanent branches immediately speeds development to that form. I believe you want to harvest as much light as possible until light is being shaded from wanted by unwanted branches. That's how I manage all fruit varieties in my nursery.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's necessarily the best way. Love to see some actual specific research comparing the use of temporary branches to leaving only your permanents from the get go.

I've read in pretty reliable sources that for free standing apples it's better to leave extra branches until trees come into bearing. They grow faster and come into meaningful production sooner this way- at least most varieties.

Personally I like to start peach trees off as a central leader and convert it to open center the second or third year of productivity. This allows me to use the leader as an anchor for branch spreaders and also to pull up young branches with string that are overly heavy with fruit.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:05AM
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