How to prune young dwarf peach?

linnea56(z5 IL)October 10, 2013

I have a very young peach tree that was started from seed from my existing 15 + year old dwarf peach. The parent tree "got away" from us when the kids were young, so did not stay dwarf enough to make it easy to pick the fruit. I don't recall the variety name. It is freestone, and produces the best tasting peaches I have had anywhere.

The offspring tree is about 3 years old and has grown very well this year. It is about 8 feet tall with one central trunk (leader?).

How should we prune this one to keep it short, and when? It does not need to be short enough to reach the fruit standing on the ground, but I'd at least like to reach it by ladder or fruit picker (the basket thing on a stick).

Thanks!

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ltilton

Your peach tree is not a dwarf. The old tree had a different variety grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock. Growing another tree from its seed will give you a standard tree that may well not produce the same kind of fruit, if it was a hybrid. Since peaches bear early, you'll soon find out if the fruit of this one is worth it.

In the meantime, you'll have a constant pruning job to keep it at the size you want, or it will get out of hand more vigorously than the old tree did. At the same time, you have to keep in mind that peaches bear fruit on the last year's new wood. So pruning requires cutting out the old wood and constantly renewing it with the new shoots every year.

There are threads here on pruning peaches that offer good advice.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 10:12AM
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curtis(5)

What about branches going to the sides? Here is my basic rules on pruning. with a young tree the thing wants to grow a straight stalk towards the sky. let it go to like 5 feet then cut it back to 3ft. it should put out multiple shoots, the top one should be trained to take over the straight up part, the rest grow out at 45 degrees. you steer them at the 45 angle and horizontal spread. You want to get 3 or 4 in the 30-36"" range. then do the same thing again when the center leader hits 8', cut back to 5. This time you may want to train all of your branches to go out and eliminate the upward center. You could also eliminate the center at 3'-4' by getting 4 well dispersed branches. But I like the 2nd layer and ladders.

Each spring cut away 1/3 of last years fresh growth on every branch. This will make your branches stronger at fruit bearing time plus give them more foliage.

As for your tree now, as mentioned it may not be a good one. Fruit seeds are like baby people, have countless possible traits from the parents, no two children alike, neither are trees from seed. But grafting is cloning, that is the best solution for fruit trees.

I'm not sure what I would do with yours now, but can tell what to wish you had done. Plant the seed in the spring. in the fall, bud graft 2-4 buds in the lower 12" of the tree then the following spring cut it off above a good graft and take the shoot out of that bud as the new tree stock, and don't accept any other growth from it. that is your central leader, now start at the top of my post on what to do. To rework your current tree by grafting, you would cut back to 36" as noted above, then in the fall bud graft onto the base of each of the side branch and the central leader. and in the spring of 2015 you prune back to the grafted buds and only then is your tree moving forward again. But it will be the tree you want and be ahead of the game by having a larger root system.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:06PM
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