Which Month Should I Prune My Peach Tree?

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Which Month Should I Prune My Peach Tree?

Peach trees should be pruned in March. If the weather is cold then hold off for a few weeks until the weather warms up. Peach trees should not be pruned in winter nor when it is raining. Pruning in March before the buds break, enables the plant to put its energy into fruiting and not into growing. Having an annual program of pruning and spraying your peach tree, can improve fruiting and avoid diseases like Peach Leaf Curl and scab. In this article, we take a quick look at which month you should prune your peach tree and why.

Peach trees fruit on the previous season’s growth, so having an annual program of pruning encourages new growth and ensures, year on year fruiting. The key to good peach tree pruning is timely pruning and maximising air circulation around the plant.

Pruning Peach Trees

There is no hard and fast rule when deciding which branches to remove. Your tree could look quite sparse by the time you have finished but that’s OK! When pruning the tree try to keep the centre of the tree open and clear from branches, you are aiming for a frame of four or five branches in a vase shape. This will ensure good air circulation around the tree. Keeping the tree at a manageable height is also important so that you can carry out pruning, spraying and harvesting easily without using a ladder.

Identifying new wood from old is easy. The older wood is greyish and the new wood is slightly darker and red in colour. Identifying the buds on the branch is easy too but it is important so as you know where to make the cuts.

  • Small single buds – Vegetative growth.
  • Collection of 3 small buds – Fruiting buds.
  • The single buds will be where the new growth will come from. Make your cut just above one of these buds in the direction you would like the growth to continue.
  • Remove about 50% of the fruiting wood. This will ensure strong wood to support the fruit.
  • Cut all remaining wood by a third and remove all downward facing stems and stems that are about the thickness of a pencil.

The Following Video should give you a good idea of how to prune your peach tree.

Peach Tree Care

Unfortunately, peach trees are susceptible to bacterial and fungal attacks and these types of problems are encouraged by conditions around the tree. This is why it is important not to prune your peach tree when it is raining, as the droplets can carry disease into the freshly made cuts.

Spraying peach trees at the beginning of the season will help to keep disease at bay. Most peach tree problems come from bacterial and fungal attacks and can range from fruit drying and shrivelling to bacterial spots that attack the leaves, leaving a shot hole appearance. Using Vitax Copper Mixture as a leafy spray can help keep your peach tree in great fruiting condition.

The RHS suggest keeping the tree dry in spring by sheltering the tree from rain. This can drastically reduce infection on peach trees.

Where peaches are grown trained against a fence or wall, a rain shelter of plastic sheeting is very effective at preventing infection. It should cover the top of the tree and the front to within 30cm (1ft) of the ground, but with the ends open to allow access for pollinating insects. It should be erected after leaf fall in November and kept in place until mid-May. Keeping the emerging shoots dry in this way prevents infection and also gives useful frost protection. It is used successfully every year in the Wisley Model Fruit Garden.