lost all my peaches...why?

JLem(6b)July 17, 2013

I have a 5-yr old peach tree that seems healthy - it is growing well and has nice green foliage. Last year it only set approximately 6 fruits, all of which shriveled up and dropped off by the time they were only the size of a marble. I assumed it was a nutrient deficiency, so this year, in the Spring I fed the tree with some 10-10-10 organic fertilizer. To my complete shock and delighted amazement, the tree must have set 500 fruits. I thinned them down considerably...I probably removed 2/3s of the crop (which was very tough..."emotionally"...to do). I figured this year I would finally have some ripe peaches! But alas, not a single fruit stayed on the tree - by the time they had reached the diameter of 50-cent piece, they would drop off. A step forward from last year I suppose, but the same result...no peaches :(

Any ideas why? Should I have given the tree another feeding? If so, when? What else can I do for next year? (BTW, I prune the tree extensively in the late winter every year). Thanks.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Did the fallen fruits have any kind of insect damage? Worms inside the fruit? Usually the fruit must be damaged to all fall off at that size.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 6:32PM
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mrsg47(7)

Hi! I live in your zone or close to it, and many of my peach trees reacted the same way as yours. We have had tons if rain (the most in history in RI) this spring/summer. We also had cold snaps late in the spring. I found that even though my peaches were fertized and growing they all fell off but one. Next year!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 6:34PM
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rayrose(8)

I'd do a soil test and see what your tree really needs.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 6:35PM
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JLem(6b)

Thanks all for the feedback. I haven't rally looked for insect damage - I don't spray, so I suppose that could be it. Though it is interesting that nearby MrsG47 had the same thing happen to hers - maybe it was just a weather/temperature thing. Regardless, I'm pretty bummed...with so many fruit set initially I was certain this was the year we'd have some to eat. Maybe next year...and I'll plan on getting the soil tested to see what the tree needs.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 4:12PM
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mrsg47(7)

My peach trees also lost most of their leaves earlier this spring. I really think it was a very late 'light freeze' we had this past spring and the unusual amount of rainfall. My trees have now 're-leafed' and look much better. My peaches fell off when they were tiny. There is one hanging on for dear life!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 4:25PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

When rain occurs at the wrong time during bloom, pollination fails.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 8:05PM
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mamuang_gw

To me, it's less likely to be poor pollination if you had 500 fruit set and had to thin them out. Spring freeze is possible. I am inclined to think it's insect damage.

Insects such as coddling moth, oriential fruit moth and plum curculio are so common. It'd be quite a miracle if you peaches did not have insect damages when you did not spray.

If it's not too late, you should cut up those fruitlets to see if there are any insect damages inside. Leaving insect-damaged fruits on the ground would only help extend their life cycles. Your should pick them up and throw them in the trash.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:37PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I know of one tree a friend has he doesn't spray, and it does bear fruit. But that is so unusual, and if you don't spray not only won't you get fruit, the fungi could damage your tree so severely it could die or become susceptible to a number of other diseases. People spray and this still happens. I'm in 6a and the frost and the rain were not severe enough for total fruit drop. I agree with mamuang, most likely insect damage. I expect to have fruit in the 2nd year on peach trees, but i spray.

Fruit trees should bear fruit without any fertilizer. It's a good idea to fertilize, but only twice a year. Early spring, and late fall. But a 5 year tree probably needs nothing. It can't hurt, but certainly will have little effect on fruit. If you're not willing to spray, don't expect any fruit. If worried about chemicals go organic. Many helpful organic sprays are around. They are far from perfect, but they should give you some decent fruit.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 9:37

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 9:25AM
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Ivywild142(6a)

My theory on the peach drop issue is a late cold snap followed by too much rain. Both of these events stress the trees. Stressed trees drop fruit as a survival mechanism.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 1:35AM
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JLem(6b)

As the fruits fell, I tossed most of them in the compost bin...but will check to see if there are any still there. I am concerned with using a spray...was hoping not to have to...any suggestions for organic or otherwise "benign" (!?!?) insecticide?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 7:20PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

A few growers here grow organic, but even those sprays can be toxic. Copper is considered organic, but it is toxic.
Peaches are one of the hardest plants to grow organically, but it can be done. First though you need to determine why fruit dropped. If fungal you can use copper and/or sulfur-lime. If insect you can use surround, which is a clay. Actually you need to do both to start. But others with more experience best advise you as to when and how. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 8:32PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Cut some of the fallen fruit. Do you-see a seed or the beginnings thereof? The answer tells you whether or not pollination was successful.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 7:03PM
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