Is there anything wrong with my peach tree?

OmniJuly 30, 2012

I planted this bear root peach tree about 2 months ago. It's only started blooming and coming out of dormancy now. There are "bush" like leaves growing in the top. As for the branches, they haven't grown or had any leaf on them what so ever. Are those branches dead? Should I just break them off?

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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Looks like you planted to old seedling so at top new buds had to forum it take sometime to grow new bud wood. I would not cut any limbs off if they are dead just leave them there you take small knife and take small cut on bark see if green under bark its alive if green. You need wait until about 3 foot new growth before do any cutting that may be next year. That green stake right size for seedling.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Hi, and thank you for your follow up. I've done the scratch test in 5 different locations on the bark. Everything is green to dark green. Just out of curiosity, is this the normal way for a tree to grow from bear root? Or do the tree branches grow first?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:12PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

The top your tree was cut off to low there no last year buds they went with top that was cut off. Look at all knots on your tree that tells you you have holdover tree who every sold you that peach tree I would never do business again it not seedling peach tree it old tree and peaches don't do well as transplant from 3 year old tree.

check nursery on gardenwatchdog see if there reputation.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:13PM
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I bought this tree from Stark Bros. And something I forgot to mention is that this is a dwarf tree. Does that change anything? Should I be looking to get a refund?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 9:55PM
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I see a stick on the ground. Did you cut it off yourself?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:28AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

While it is normal to cut a one year old whip off at about 24 to 30 inches when planting it bare root, your tree looks to be two or three years old. I would just baby it through this year with no pruning and give it a chance to establish its roots into your soil. Next spring decide what can be done after it breaks dormancy. Al

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:59AM
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Hmmm...this is somewhat disheartening. will this tree produce good fruit and be prolific in the future? Or should I just not take the chance and ask stark bros for a refund? Before I ordered it, I frequently spoke to stark bros staff and they said it all fruit trees they sell are 3 years old.
Could this have become like this due to over fertilizing? Too much water? There are those leaves like things growing in the middle and towards the bottom as well so its not just the top. What can I do for this tree to make the most out of it?

Is there any fault of stark bros me some bad left over tree?

And daemon what stick are you speaking of? The tree came with 3 branches nut one of them broke off due to a bird sitting on it?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 1:36PM
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I got one from stark this year in the spring and it looked a little like that one. It has grown 24+ inches of new growth. I started mine in early spring though. I would keep it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:09PM
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That's good to know! I planted mine towards the end of May.

Also, I looked a bit closer at the peach tree. The little bush that's growing on top and all the other leaves that are coming out from the main trunk are all coming out from where the little branches were cut. Those little bumps on the tree. idk if that changes anything, but that's just a bit of more information for you. Also, should I look at getting rid of the stake? does that have anything to do with my tree not growing?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:49PM
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I bought a stanley prune plum mail order a few years ago.
My tree came just like the peach in your picture. The trunk was very large but the tree was sawed off at 3'. I was Pi**ed to say the least. I planted it. It did nothing until July of that year as it had no buds to push growth from. Instead it developed new buds just below the
cut and finally leafed out.

Two years later I have a really nice tree! Give yours a chance. You may be surprised how tough plants are.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 4:05PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Yeah. Once peach trees start to grow, THEY GROW! Give it another year or two. They say reliance is a very good peach. Oh and I think you might have a "semi" dwarf:-)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:16PM
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Oh okay that's very good to hear. I will leave the tree alone. This is a July Elberta. And what I ordered was a dwarf supreme and they said its just thicker than normal. About how big will this grow? Can I see some pictures of your trees?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:40PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

My tree might be a July Elberta as well but Im unsure. It was kind of "stickly" at the beginning also. This pic is the most recent but my tree as of today is way bushier(almost 4 months after this pic). These tree are on their first and second year. The left is a red baron and the right might be an Elberta. And if your tree is a dwarf it should not get bigger than 4 feet I would guess.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Just 4 feet? Stark Bros said they will grow to about 8-10 feet.
Also, haven't you planted them a bit too close to each other? Isn't the distance between the two supposed to be like 10 feet?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:13PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


If the side branches haven't pushed growth at this point all their buds are dead. Same with the trunk.

That said, I wouldn't despair. You're going to have to start your first scaffolds higher than I'd like, but you should still be able to grow a fine peach tree.

Drainage for peach trees needs to be really good for them to thrive. Not just OK, but really good. In many locations this is accomplished by planting the trees in mounds.

In some future year, when it starts raining again in the Midwest, drainage will again be a top factor for peach trees.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:25AM
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Thank you for your reply Olpea! I've attached another picture showing where the leaves are coming out from. I understand that buds on the tree are dead, but how could the trunk itself be dead? I did scratch tests quite recently and all of them have been light to dark green.

I may have planted this tree a bit late (late May)so I may not have allowed it the best growing time. What can I do to make sure that this peach tree has the best start next growing season? What do you mean by scaffolds? How can I make sure that the tree's branches actually come out? If this keeps up, will the leaves just come out from the trunk to a point where the peaches are growing from the trunk itself?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Picture 1
There are smaller leaves coming out from the branch buds further down. There are two others.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Here's a picture with some green stems on it.

Speaking of draining,I've put down a lot of mulch around my tree. Should I get rid of it?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 2:37PM
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That is what my Contender from Stark did this year.
Just wait, I think that you will be pleasantly suprised.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 3:05PM
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I had a similar situation as yourself this year. I planted four fruit trees (2 jap. plums and 2 peaches) in May. I also planted fruit trees in March and April. The trees that I planted in May have a similar amount of growth as yours so just wait for next year and they'll take right off. The April trees have about 12-18 inches and the March trees have 24 inches of new growth.

My experience tells me in the future that planting in May for zone 6 will work but don't expect the same results as if you planted the tree in March.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 3:18PM
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That's very comforting to hear. Also, the lady who I spoke to at Stark Bro's said to cut off the outgrowth from the middle and bottom, but leave the top on, as those are suckers and are taking energy away from the tree itself.

I understand that branches are suppose to grow first. Why does this happen that the leaves are coming right out from the trunk?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Underneath the bark of all deciduous trees are dormant buds. If you cut the top off a deciduous tree the dormant buds become active and start to grow branches.

The small branches (that came with the tree) you have on your tree are dead and have no buds on them that survived the winter therefore you have no growth from your side branches and can safely cut them back to the trunk.

As a result of no active growth the dormant buds therefore become active and start to grow. I notice the bud at the top started to form several branches and it looks like you have an active bud about 1 foot from the ground.

If it was my tree I would trim the dead branches back to the trunk and leave the tree alone until March. Then in March I would consider heading the tree back to 28" from the ground above a dormant bud.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 6:19PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Sometime the leaves just grow in clusters and dont scaffold out. Mostly on new trees or stressed trees I think. Just wait in a year or two you should get some nice long thick branches arching out and those will be your scaffolds if at the correct angle. Most first year trees are just twigs:-)

Also, I think 8-10 feet for a dwarf is pretty big but then again what do I know:-) Ill try to get a pic of my true dwarf nectarine tree. Its a heck of alot stubbier than your tree...heheh

Oh and I am limited on space in my back yard so I am going for a 3 tree in one plot. Its OK as long as you find stone fruit on the same rootstock (preferably) and prune to suit. Just prune all the center growth and scaffolds out of the middle of the 3 trees and dont let any branches over lap and you can grow 3-4 stone fruit in one plot just angle them away at a slight angle away from each other. I still have to add another peach tree.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 6:23PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"I understand that buds on the tree are dead, but how could the trunk itself be dead? I did scratch tests quite recently and all of them have been light to dark green."


I didn't say the trunk was dead, rather the buds on the trunk were dead.

The last picture you posted helps a lot. I know you're getting a lot of advice, but this is what I'd do. Let the tree grow this season, as mentioned. The small side growth should grow to a good sized shoot. If it doesn't, then notch just above that growth and that will make it grow more. Next spring cut all the growth just above the shoot that is growing out of the side. By doing so you are effectively creating a new trunk that will have lots of live buds. The shoot that comes from the side will have lots of vigor and grow rapidly next season. It will put out lots of side shoots in which to choose your scaffolds.

Scaffolds are the main branches of the tree. In other words, you start with a trunk, then there should be about 3 scaffolds that come out from the trunk. These are the main branches. Then from the scaffolds are lots of smaller branches that will bear fruit.

There is a lot more to training trees than that quick summary, but it will get you off to a good start to grow a new trunk from the lower side growth that I see in your picture.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 7:13PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

If you don't do anything now but let it grow, you will be OK. The mulch is a good thing, just allow two or three inches clearance from the trunk. Before winter I would put a plastic guard around the trunk to keep the voles from chewing the bark and doing real damage. They come as a spiral that can be easily put around the trunk. Al

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 9:27AM
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Thanks a lot guys! For your expertise and advice and everything!
And just to be clear what Olpea was saying, I should just prune the leaves that are growing now all the way down to the trunk come next growing season? Essentially just have one bare trunk?

Also, I spoke to a stark bros rep before I even spoke on this forum, and she said to get rid of the two outgrowths from the bottom. I took her word for it but now after speaking to you guys I don't think I should have. Sometimes I feel Stark Bros reps don't know what they're talking about :-\

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:49PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"And just to be clear what Olpea was saying, I should just prune the leaves that are growing now all the way down to the trunk come next growing season? Essentially just have one bare trunk?"

No no no. Let's go back to the picture above, the second one you posted on Aug. 2nd.

That picture shows some obvious top growth on your new tree. It also shows what appears to be a small amount of side growth lower on the tree. This side growth looks like it's above the graft. Correct? If so, that small amount of side growth can eventually be trained to become a new trunk. This is how.

Let that side growth grow. Next year it should be at least a foot long, maybe 2 feet long or more. That new growth will be your new trunk. Next spring, cut the old trunk just above where the "new" trunk is growing. Don't cut the new trunk though, since that is going to become your tree.

The advantage of growing a new trunk is so that it will have lots of live buds on it that will sprout all kinds of new growth all along your new trunk. This will give you lots of options where to start your scaffolds. As it is now, you really don't have any options because for the most part your tree just has the top growth.

If you want to start your scaffolds up high, then you don't need to grow a new trunk. Instead you can simply allow the top growth to grow and choose your scaffolds when the top growth starts putting out side shoots. However, I like to start my scaffolds down lower, so when I get trees that have pretty much a bare trunk (like yours above) I grow a new trunk from a low bud (if I can).

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 5:28PM
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Ohhh, okay I see what you're saying, lol.
Also, is it possible to graft the top half that I cut off to another root system? If so, the root system of which tree should I use?

Also, if I choose to leave the tree as is, will there be a reduction in the amount of fruits that will come in the future? Or will the tree just grow taller, but have the same amount of fruit?

Sorry for dragging this thread longer than it has to be.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 6:00PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

You could graft it but you would need a rootstock. You can try to root it but I dont know if that would work.

Also, if you dont prune your tree yearly, or at least every two years, it will become a mess with less fruit and more problems all around. Just do a google search on good peach pruning methods and get used to the terms, methods and season when to prune (once or twice a year at most). Its simple really. Once your tree gets growing you will want to prune it so the growth focuses outward like a vase so that every branch has sun and air and room for fruit! Also, listen to olpea because there are few better sources of information than this person:-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 7:16PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thanks Blaze for the kind words.


A taller peach tree actually produces a slightly higher yield than an shorter peach tree. The reason for this is that more annual pruning of fruiting wood is required to keep a peach tree shorter.

Most people forgo the slightly better production of taller peach trees in favor of the advantages of keeping them shorter (i.e. easier thinning, pruning and harvesting).

Some people like to start their scaffolds higher (and consequently accept taller peach trees) in order to wrap the trunk with materials to keep wildlife from climbing the trunk and eating the fruit.

You can start the scaffolds higher and still keep the tree at pedestrian height, but it takes a lot more pruning and you prune off a lot more fruiting wood than if the scaffolds are started down lower.

I have one tree I started the scaffolds high and to keep it from growing out of reach I have to keep the canopy very thin. So thin, I've had problems with the scaffolds getting sunburned.

Paul Friday, a well-known peach breeder has made the salient point that a peach tree canopy is only going to grow 6 feet of peaches, you might as well grow that 6' of canopy where you can reach it. Since your new, I'll offer a bit more explanation of that comment.

Peach trees tend to shade out lower growth. A leaf canopy deeper than 6' will shade any growth below it, so that any growth that starts below the canopy will die. Paul Friday says the number is 6', but I've found even 4' of canopy depth is enough to shade out and kill growth below it. Either way, the point is that the canopy of your tree can be maintained at pedestrian height (0 thru 6 feet), or really high (10 thru 16 feet) the choice is yours.

If you choose not the prune the tree, the tree will choose for you and it's choice will be to grow the canopy really high, since in nature the tall peach trees have a survival advantage (less deer browsing, less competition for sunlight, ect.)

I wouldn't necessarily trust in the fact that it's a "dwarf" tree, unless I knew specifically it was a genetic dwarf, or knew what rootstock they put it on. Nurseries are notorious for labeling peach trees as dwarfs or semi-dwarfs, when in reality the rootstocks they are using have very little (if any) dwarfing effect.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Thank you very much Olpea! I'm learning a lot more about peach tree care from your explanations alone than I am from many peach tree resources out there.

The only reason why I want to leave the tree as is right now (not cut the trunk in half near the second set of leaves are coming out below the very top) is because I'm very hesitant in doing so. That being said, the trunk is about 3 feet tall. If I let the tree grow as is, will it stay under 8-10 feet and produce a good quantity of fruit? I will pick up books on pruning the tree properly and prune the peach tree right before each growing season (which I read somewhere is the best time prune?).

I spoke to stark bros (the nursery that sold me the trees) and they said they will send me another tree of the same variety, so I guess I will have two peach trees (I was planning on having two from the beginning). For consistency's sake and to keep the peach trees looking uniform, would it be possible for me to immediately prune new growth towards the bottom part of the tree and only allow the top few scaffolds to grow? Would doing so allow the next tree to look similar to this one I have?

Once again thank you very much all for your responses. If you do accepts "tips" for your advice, I will be more than happy to do so haha.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 2:42PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"If I let the tree grow as is, will it stay under 8-10 feet and produce a good quantity of fruit"


It depends on what rootstock the tree is on. I see from your previous post, your tree is a July Elberta, which is not a genetic dwarf. I don't know what rootstock Stark Bros uses for their dwarf peach trees, but I suspect it's Redleaf. If so, Redleaf won't provide much dwarfing effect. Left to it's own devices, it will probably grow taller than 10'.

Whatever rootstock they use, you'll need to prune your peach tree anyway. It's not hard to keep your peach tree low by pruning. I keep all my peach trees below 8' because that's as high as I can reach. On my most vigorous trees, I might have to prune them 2 or 3 times a year but it doesn't take much time. With loppers it takes about 5 min. to remove the top 50% of the foliage of a mature peach tree (It's not unusual to remove 50% of a vigorous peach tree at one pruning.) That doesn't count the time to pick up the prunings, but the point is it doesn't take much time to prune.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 6:08PM
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hah, I have a younger brother to take care of picking up the cut branches, lol.

Anyways, I can't thank you enough Olpea. Before I had gotten your advice, I had made the mistake of listening to the stark bros rep who said to cut off the bottom two outgrowing leaves (the one you said to keep and cut the trunk right above it and train it to become a trunk)

As of now, I'm stuck with the growth just up on the top, so I will have to leave it there as is. I think I'll leave this peach tree as is, let it just grow from the top and go accordingly.

Stark Bros has promised me another tree of the same kind, so I will plant it this fall during early November or so. I just need to train this new tree so that it looks similar to the tree I currently have, for consistency's sake.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 2:06PM
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