No peach blossoms this year

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)June 7, 2011

I have a dozen peach trees, and several that have bloomed for the past three years. This year I was hoping for a better crop but instead I did not have a single blossom, not even on my Cresthaven or PF24C, which have reliably cropped since their second year.

My question is: What makes a peach tree bloom? We did not have a late frost, so it's not that the trees bloomed and were frozen; my plums, apricots and cherries bloomed just fine. We did have a dryer winter that usual, but not colder than usual. The trees show no sign of any damage whatsoever. In fact they look beautiful and healthy.

I actually didn't do anything to them; no spraying or fertilizing at all, but I didn't do winter watering.

Any thoughts or ideas?

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It doesn't sound like age is a factor, at least not on some of the trees, so I think we can rule out "too young."

Well, the first question is -- did they set flower buds last year? If no buds, I'd say the main reason would be weather, possibly too hot and dry, or a really heavy crop of fruit that sapped all of the trees energy. But personally, I've never seen them not make ANY, I've seen years when the bud formation was very light.

IF the answer is "yes, they made flower buds last year" then the question becomes "what happened to them?" Did they winter kill from an especially cold night? Did something like a chipmunk or red squirrel decide they were a tasty winter snack to augment its normal diet?

Personally, I'm not really sure. You said that apricots bloomed, and I think overall they are about the same flower bud hardiness in terms of winter as are peaches. So, I'm a bit stumped. Still kind of lean towards winter, perhaps even just the dry winter killed them. Here, our dogwood buds almost all died out -- not sure if it was the colder than normal winter or the dry late summer period, but something got them -- some trees had a few, most trees had not a single flower, even though buds were present, they just died and failed to open. Kind of thinking its similar to your peaches.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thats unusual indeed. It seems like it has to do with hardiness since you are in a borderline zone, but its hard to say exactly what aspect was the problem. My #1 guess would be some rapid temperature swing in the winter did them in; the other fruits are somewhat more hardy so it was not as bad for them. If you know anyone local with peaches you should check with them, maybe they are watering in the winter.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:43AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Hope this doesn't sound critical but you need to learn to identify fruit buds on peaches and other stone fruit. That way you can watch them and see where things go awry.

I agree with the other guys these trees almost certainly set fruit buds last year. You can see them by mid summer in your area. Most likely the weather got them somewhere over winter or this spring.

I have seen house finch strip apricot of flower buds in winter when there was heavy snow cover. But have not lost peach that way.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 12:15PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I do know what fruit buds look like, and I actually did worry in the early spring that I did not see any on the peaches. I have another issue that I thought was separate, but maybe not. All of the branches on my 3-year old Kristin Cherry are dead. This is supposed to be a very hardy tree and has made it through several Colorado winters before, but this year all the small branches seem to be dried out. The trunk still seems to be alive, but no new branches have pushed out from it.

The idea of a sudden temperature drop sounds the most plausible to me. Combined with dry temperatures, this could actually freeze-dry the branches. I do remember it getting down to -16 and with no precipitation along with it. The trees managed colder weather the previous winter, but it was not so dry.

So, it sounds like I will have to rig up a winter watering system; something I can do even in cold weather.

It's funny, no matter how much you read about a subject, actually doing it is a lot more educating! And one certainly learns from mistakes better than successes!

I appreciate all your input. I'll try to make sure my trees are watered this winter and see if that makes a difference.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 1:14PM
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I am relatively new at fruiting. Last year my young peach tree was so heavily laden, I felt sorry for it. I figure I should have picked off many of the young fruit before they burdened it. I lost a good branch even though I tried to prop them up... so this year, it had a good bunch of blossoms. I picked off some of the beginning fruits... yet it lost many on it's own. Now I have a tree with about 20 peaches. LOL they are going to be big beautiful peaches though and it is not burdened. Is it like pecans: An every other year crop? Does a peach tree take time off? My 20 ripening peaches are already bigger than the late ripened peaches of last year.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 12:05AM
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I've found that my peaches tend to bear a heavy crop in one year, followed by a lighter crop the next. However, I do NOT thin them, as I just don't have the time, and that may affect the results, along with the spring freeze years that sometimes take out many of the blooms. Overall, at least if not thinned, I'd say that many fruiting trees follow this pattern.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:23AM
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Our tree did not set blossoms this spring either. I also live in Colorado. We also did not get a late frost. When i went to check for buds this spring i found that they were gone. I'm not sure if the squirels ate them in the winter, but it's a possibility i suppose. Or perhaps they fell off in the winter?

I might have seen one blossom, but if so most were gone before even getting a chance to bloom.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:25AM
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not sure if it's relevant, but we do have a lot of finches in our neighborhood now. In fact a pair of finches (one with a red head) are building a nest in our grapevine that is right across from the peach tree. Our tree did have a heavy production of peaches last year, so perhaps it is an in-between year.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:30AM
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I am also from Colorado. I have one peach tree and one plum tree. My plum tree had blossoms, my peach didn't. I also have 2 neighbors who also have peach trees and theirs didn't bloom either. We did have a dryer winter than usual and we had a few days that it was so cold I think the temperatures dropped to about 20 below zero. They even closed schools. I didn't water at all during the winter, but I will this winter and see if that will help for next year.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 9:54PM
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Nashonii(6 Ozarks)

Was checking the GardenWeb for just this problem. Our peach tree hasn't had one bloom on it, eather! We had a heavy snow this winter, followed by the 75-100 year flood. We expected our plants to do extremely well. It is about 4 years old, self-pollinating tree, bought two years ago. It had a few peaches on it our first year, more last year, but most were eaten by June Bugs. We were able to snag one peach. This year we were hoping to keep the June bugs away and get enough to make a peach pie...but not one flower! The tree looks in good health, no splitting, plenty of good looking leaves. What's the matter? Is it too late to do anything for this year? Should we do something for next year?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 9:00AM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

I have a 3rd year tree. It had lots of blossoms. It set plenty of fruit. I thinned extensively, but not sure whether I thinned extensively enough. I have not counted the fruit still on, but it is more than 30. After reading the posts from Coloradans I feel very fortunate. Our fruit markets get some Colorado commercial peaches late in the season. Colorado produces some fairly good peaches. So I feel very fortunate this year.

We are in a marginal area for growing peaches. I mulched with wood chips around the base of the tree; I plant peanuts below the chips. They help keep out the weeds, and I figure they add nitrogen to the soil, so it is probably a benefit to the tree. We had ample snow this winter, but one night it got down to around -23F, and so I was very concerned that my 3rd year peach tree would have none.

I planted two other trees the past two years, and they are too young to bear fruit. I am convinced it is important to have more than one tree, planted in separate years.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 11:59PM
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The freeze in early February got 'em. Not the late frosts at all. If your tree is otherwise undamaged, count yourself lucky.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 3:24PM
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alan haigh

When temps get near -20 flower buds freeze but veg buds survive. Somewhere around -28 becomes a risk to peach survival when veg buds are killed. Of course, temps are never precise in relationship to damage because of several factors.

Here, in southeastern NY I've never really benefited from a specific varieties resistance to winter cold. We haven't had a winter in the last 25 years where Reliance pulled through and other varieties didn't. When we got a winter cold enough to kill any of the peach flowers it killed all of them. Low was about -20 that year.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 6:01PM
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Here we had -20 for a week but at a time with good snow cover (4'). All but one made it ok the reliant's I only had to thin 50% the red haven 20% contender had 2 fruit sets and the belle of ga I had to thin 10 every 6". the tree that died was bullied pretty bad by deer last summer.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Glad I found this older post. My two year old peach tree had over twenty peaches last summer and this spring it seems as if there are about 30 blossoms only. I thinned a lot last summer as well, the tree was loaded with fruit. I removed half. This year my 'Elberta' does not have tons of blossoms. My one year old 'Belle of Georgia' has its first 12 blossoms. I am thrilled. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 6:46PM
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Both of my peach trees dropped all of their blossom this year why? My three year old 'Elberta' had a lovely small crop last year. This year nothing, zero, el-zippo! As for my 'Belle of Georgia' this is only its second year , it is on true dwarf rootstock and dropped all of its blossoms (wasn't expecting much). Buy why no blooms on my 'Elberta'? Summer without fresh peaches is just not great. Very disappointed. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 9:51AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"Both of my peach trees dropped all of their blossom this year why?"

Mrs. G,

First, a peach tree water stressed the previous season can be weak and more prone to drop blooms, but if your peach trees are healthy and vigorous, then it's not water stress.

Another possibility is the cool temps. I'm not talking about bud hardiness critical temps, I'm talking about cool spring temps. This is something that doesn't get any play in the literature, but is a real phenomena.

With peach trees, once they bloom, the temperature does not have to get down to the published critical temps to kill blooms (i.e. 27F). A very prolonged period of cool (but not critical) temps will kill peach blooms.

This has happened to me once before several years ago and it happened again this year. I monitored temps very closely this spring and they did not reach "published" critical levels at any time. Nevertheless, peach blooms were thinned extensively this year by cool temps. Young trees which were covered in blooms and should produce 75 fruit, have 2 or 3 fruit. Mature trees look like they will have about 30% of a normal crop. We've not thinned a single peach tree.

I talked to one other peach grower and he is seeing lighter fruit set on some of his blocks as well (He is on the MO river so his temps were a bit warmer than my area.)

This spring, peach trees bloomed and the weather was so cool, the blooms did not progress. They just sat there for about 3 weeks. This is pretty hard on peach blooms. They don't like suspended animation. They either need to move forward or die.

I don't know if this is at all congruent with your observations this spring. If not, the only other possibilities I can think of are blossom rot or blossom blast.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Thanks Olpea! That makes sense. Even though our cool spring temps did not get below 35-40 degrees, in the mornings it looked like there was just a light frost on the lawns. It was a very chilly spring, with a lot of cold rain as well. When I think of the 20-30 small peaches I took off the tree last year (thinning) and maybe just maybe, two peaches this year, it is just very frustrating. But then again, next year will be different . My trees are all very healthy. Thanks as always for your help. Mrs G

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 1:05PM
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I have 3 peachtrees which have not bloomed the last two years. I water them in the winter several times

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 9:58AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Where do you live? This has been a brutal winter for most of the U.S.. This makes 3 years running that I won't have any peaches.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 11:50AM
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I came here looking for answers, too.

I have a 5 yr old Contender that fruited like crazy in 2012. I hard-pruned it last spring (neighbor complained about the overlapping branches, even though I told him to help himself to peaches) and it fruited moderately. This year - NOTHING!

I hope it is not the hard prune that I gave it (a good third of the branches were removed), but rather the extreme and long winter we had here in Chicago. There were days of -40 below wind chills. And the winter seemed to drag on forever. We are only now warming up and having April weather!

On the upside, 2 of my 4 yr old plum trees set fruit - I am very excited about that!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 9:23PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Since this thread was recently resurrected, I thought I'd add an addendum to my above post.

The latest issue of Facts for Fancy Fruit (Purdue) had this to say.

"As many experienced growers know, natural fruit drop occurs in two waves The first wave is where unfertilized flowers drop, and this has already happened. The second wave happens a little later and is caused by a shortfall in
available carbohydrates. Leaf area is still developing so the supply of carbohydrates from photosynthesis is limited
At the same time, many developing fruit require carbohy-
drates to grow, so demand exceeds supply. This shortfall in carbohydrates is responsible for this second wave of fruit drop
Conditions that extend this shortfall tend to increase fruit
drop.For example, an extended period of cloudy weather means less photosynthesis, less carbohydrate and more fruit drop. For many of us in the state, we saw more cloudy
weather than normal during early fruit development. The combined effect of reduced bee movement and limited pollination, slow pollen tube growth so less fertilization, and
reduced photosynthesis all resulted in above average fruit drop. (Hirst)"

Although the above comment is related to poor apple fruit set (a common topic on this forum) I think it may also have application to stone fruits.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:05PM
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