What to do with peach tree that is blossoming?

slopfrogNovember 20, 2011

My crazy peach tree is at it again. It has been struggling for months with a bacterial spot infection that I just could not get under control. It was losing leaves one by one until there were none left. I figured it was a goner, but the wood stayed green so I held out hope.

Now all the sudden it's putting out blossoms! Not good the week before Thanksgiving! What should I do? I assume that after pollination it will push growth. I was thinking of removing the young fruits and then being extra vigilant to keep it warm during the winter.

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I went through the same exact thing on my Yoshino cherry. Bad leaf spot, it lost all of its leaves and then went through Spring all over with (not as vigorous) blossoms and leaves in September. It's now shedding those same leaves which are turning colour as it's supposed to in fall.

I think the same should be true for your peach as well. I've noticed the spot-leaf has returned, but it's been too windy or raining for me to keep up the regimen on the new growth. I guess I'll have to start again in Spring.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 5:42PM
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Side question, what is a peach tree supposed to look like this time of year? I planted one this year and it has been sulking all summer. It lost all the lower leaves, but it keeps pushing out new green leaves at the tips. Should it go totally dormant this time of year?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 8:29PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Sorry to hear about your peach tree problem slopfrog.

My peach tree is doing well this year. I planted a new variety last fall that is more disease resistant. My first was an abysmal failure. The only difference is the variety - nothing I could do in terms of care could salvage the first one. For comparision, here was the sad first attempt after a full season of growth:

Here's the new tree after its first season of growth:

Just no comparison. The tree I have now is a tropic sweet - highly recommend it is as a vigorous and disease resistant tree.

For your tree, I'd recommend that you give it a spraying of both copper (to fight disease) and liquid seaweed - to help it get healthy. Then let it be and see if it can sort itself out. If it doesn't you may have to find a more disease resistant variety. Do you know what variety you have?

Amberroses, my tree is currently about half way through defoliating (don't have a more recent pic tho), as is another mature tree in my neighborhood. It has pretty much stopped growing. I expect it to go mostly dormant by mid December and stay that way until January/February when it will bloom, then rapidly leaf out.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 11:51AM
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Thanks for the info. My tree looked closer to your first picture, but not quite that bad. If I see a Tropic Sweet I'll consider it. Yours looks great.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 3:29PM
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UF recommends not tying or staking trees.
By blowing in the wind, trees produce stronger trunks.
Tree securing is now done on the ground with boards across the root zone,
only when necessary.
Anchor the root ball rather than the trunk.
You will see literature from even just a few years ago referring to
the old fashioned way of staking.
The anchor from the base concept is fairly new.
Is there a reason your peach tree is tied down?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 6:51PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Amberroses - I got my tree from Mickey at PlantOGram. He's in my local area, and it is great fun to go to his nursery (based out of his home) and get a private tour of all his trees. You have to call to make an appointment, but he's got a great selection of trees and is very knowledgeable. I went there describing my first tree's problem, and asked him for which type of peach tree had done best for him. This one was his recommendation.

Gatormom, well, I'd love to not need to stake my tree, but it grew so fast this year that the top outpaced the roots. I staked it mid-summer because a storm with 80 mile an hour wind gusts and torrential rain destabilized it. It was blown to a greater than a 45 degree angle - I literally rushed outside to shove it back upright and drive in a stake to hold it until the storm was over. I think that it has now solidified itself sufficiently and I will be removing the stake this winter when it is bare. Then I'll evaluate next spring if it is stable enough on its own after spring pruning. Out of curiosity, how do you secure the boards down across the root zone? Have you tried it? Any report on how well it works? Staking of course can damage the trunk (hence my giant tape ball as cushion) but in this case it was better than losing the whole tree.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 10:37AM
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Mine is a tropic snow. It's looked more like the first pic you posted than te last for sure. Mine is about 6' tall an Christmas tree shaped (poorly pruned when I got it, and once it got the infection I was afraid to prune.)

out of curiosity, what was the first variety you tried?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:03PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Slopfrog, my first variety was a Flordabelle. I thought that Tropic Snow was supposed to be a pretty good one, but I haven't got any direct experience with it. Can you post a picture of yours? I would definitely prune yours in February to try to get it back to healthy. Pruning it in the spring should help to take off diseased wood and stimulate new healthy growth. Here's a picture of my initial pruning of my second tree early this spring:

I left only the branches that had potential as scaffold branches, then carefully selected and trained the first tier of scaffold branches this season.

Also, I wouldn't give it any cold protection over the winter, that would keep it from getting on to a normal cycle. Just cull any fruit that it sets. If it pushes out growth before it gets cold, there isn't really any harm if the leaves freeze. A freeze would put the tree back into dormancy and then it would begin growing again in the spring. Also, the leaves are remarkably sturdy. I had a freeze last year in Feb after mine had leafed out and the leaves looked wilty for a few hours, but then recovered.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 9:58AM
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Wow, I'm glad you posted that picture. I'd never have thought to prune it that much. I can't argue with your results though.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 10:05AM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Amberroses, yeah - peaches need a heavy hand to shape them well. For the record though, you should only do this to a newly planted tree, or one that has been mis-managed. Do this once, then select 3-5 main shoots and try to train them out as the scaffold branches - about a 60 degree angle is ideal. I shaped mine using cloths pins. Here are a couple more in-between pics:

Now that I have good scaffold branches they are permanent. Next spring I will prune so that I keep trunk + 1st tier of scaffold branches and any well formed secondary scaffold branches (which will become permanent) plus a number of temporary pencil sized branches that will produce fruit. Peaches I understand fruit best on 1 year old branches, so you manage the tree to always have a crop of 1 year old branches by the end of summer so that in the spring you get fruit=) I heard a funny idiom on how you know when you've pruned your peach enough - after pruning, it should be open enough that if you throw a cat through the center it would not be able to latch on to any branches as it sails through. To be clear - not that I advocate throwing cats - just thought it was a funny bit of old fashioned farmer's wisdom.

Incidentally gatormom, this last pic shows about the time that I needed to stake this tree. Its trunk grew phenomenally this year. From about big crayon thickness to so large I can't close my hand around it now!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 12:46PM
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