Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How to Prune Peach and Nectarine Trees

Jen: So in the foreground is the peach tree, in the background is a nearly identical nectarine. Overall height I would guess to be maybe 10 ft? Too high!
Back Yard Peach and Nectarine
There are two main parts splitting off. It is starting to get buds. Am I too late?

Nectarine Tree Buds
 Here is a good shot I think of parts that could be explained. I think I have identified enough of the successive branch sizes.

How to Prune a Nectarine Tree
Russ: This is the perfect time to prune these. Definitely not too late. I always start from the bottom and work my way up. The branch angle for the "B" branches is a bit close, but I don't think you will have trouble with them growing together and developing any included bark problems.

Step one is to remove any suckers growing up from the root stock, if any.

Next, clean out the middle of the tree. Remove branches that grow in towards the middle like branches D3, E4 and maybe the middle C branch. It's hard to tell if the C branch needs to be removed because the image is two dimensional.

Broken branches and branches that are touching other branches also need to be removed. We already removed E4, it looks like it is crossing another branch, it also looks like it's touching.

Jen: That's very very helpful!

Russ: E1, E3, E5 and E8 are all good branches, but they are growing in a down ward direction. These all need to be cut back to a bud that is growing up. This will teach those branches to grow up. You can control future growth of a tree by pruning it back to a bud that is facing the direction you want the tree to grow.

Jen: Yeah I read that on your site. That's awesome about direction. And leave the other small "F" size branches as they are? If they aren't crossing or touching that is.

Russ: Similar branches like the other F's can be cut back to match their "sisters". This is hard to explain, but use your best judgement. Do what looks best. Consider this picture of a rose branch when pruning back to a bud. See how the bud is growing out? The only problem with this picture is that the branch was cut perpendicular. For best results, cut the branch at a slight angle so the branch comes to a point at the bud.

Point Your Fruit Trees in the Right Direction
Jen: Cool, got it and how much height is safe to lop off?

Russ: As far as topping the tree it just depends on how high you want the tree. I like to cut large branches back to a fork, leaving a smaller branch that is parallel to replace it. If there isn't a smaller parallel branch then cut it back to a bud that if facing the right direction.

Last note, branches growing up should be trained to grow out branches growing out should be trained to grow up. "Trained" means pruned back to a bud that is going in the right direction.

Jen: Sounds good!

Russ: Almost every branch left on the tree should have the tip cut to stimulate growth and remove the weak ends. If too much fruit grows on the tips of small branches, they will break. Don't forget to thin the fruit when it sets. Peaches always grow more fruit then their branches can handle.

Jen: But they're so delicious! lol.

Russ: Home grown peaches are delicious and it's hard to pick them off when they are green, but you will actually get more and larger fruit if you thin it. A broken branch with hundreds of small green peaches will bring more tears that thinning a few off for the long term health of the tree.

Jen: Okay, whatever you say. You're so helpful, truly!

Russ: Let me know if you have any more questions.

(Next Day)

Jen: I admit I was a bit scared, I'm sure I didn't hack away as much as you would have. But I know it's better than what it was!

Nectarine Tree After Pruning
Russ: You are awesome! The tree looks so good!

For more information about some of the pruning terms used in this post, visit our website at www.simplytreesut.com and under the services tab, click on education.