Now for a few words about pruning fruit trees.
What’s a prepper without his/her fruit trees? I try to grow fruit trees that stagger their fruit production over the summer and fall months, so I don’t have to deal with all our fruit ripening at once. One of our favorite trees is our peach tree.
I finally got around to pruning my peach tree and other fruit trees. Last year, I didn’t make time for them until they already had leaves and fruit growing on them. This year, I was determined to show them more attention.
I have a peach, two pears, two apples, and a cherry tree. The peach is my most productive tree, so I try to take good care of it. You can see the massive amount of fruit I get off my peach tree in an earlier post.
I’ve heard peach trees don’t need as much pruning after they mature, but my peach gets bushy every year. Maybe when it’s older it will call down. Believe it or not, I prune it back severely every winter or spring and it still comes out looking like the above photo by autumn.
I try to do my pruning after hard frosts have killed dangerous insects. This year, we haven’t had much of a winter. It’s been more of an extended spring. I don’t know how many, if any, fruit-tree-loving insects have died.
My precautions against fruit tree pests include pruning after the insects have died off, as I’ve mentioned. Also, I never (and this is very important) let fruit rot under or around my fruit trees. Allowing dropped fruit to become breeding grounds for bad insects is just asking for a devastated fruit harvest. Even composting happens away from the garden and fruit trees. Any bug or fungus infested fruit or vegetables end up in the garbage. An ounce of prevention is worth gallons of fungicide and insecticide.
The goal of pruning is to open up the tree to airflow and sunlight. Air flow allows quick drying of your fruit when it rains or is irrigated. Dry fruit resists disease much better than damp fruit. Plenty of light helps keep the fruit dry and encourages proper development of your fruit.
When pruning peach trees or other fruit trees, you want to balance out the tree. Encourage branches to grow at or near 45 degree angles. Remove branches that will shade other branches, too much. Downward growth and vertical grow (except for the trunk) should be the first to get pruned. Don’t let your tree get too tall, or you’ll need a big ladder to get to the fruit. Remove dead and diseased branches, too. After making the easy pruning choices, then go back and figure out what if any other branches need removing.
Clean up after pruning. You don’t want dead or diseased branches rotting under the peach tree.
One new tip I learned last year from experience. Typically, you want to remove a third of the fruit from the tree right after it appears, so that the remaining fruit grows large and healthy. However, pruning off a third of the tree branches doesn’t do the job of thinning the fruit on the tree. You need to remove a third of the fruit growing on each branch, not just chop off a third of the tree’s branches while pruning.
One final tip, after pruning, I spray down the tree with a combination insecticide / fungicide. The wounds the tree receives from pruning are susceptible to insects and disease, so I try to give it a little extra protection right after I’m done pruning.
Well, my tree is pruned in plenty of time for spring. I expect it will do as well as last year. I look forward to an October harvest of peaches.