Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Summer Pruning Peach Trees
Healthy apple and peach trees normally put on a large amount of new growth during the season. It is not unusual for peach trees to grow 6 feet or more in a season. In a freeze out year, like this one, tree growth can become even more unmanageable with no fruit on the tree.
The large sprouts growing up in the middle of the tree are called water sprouts, which are not very beneficial to the tree. Water sprouts will shade out lower branches, causing twig death. Too much shading will lead to increased twig death and result in lowering the crop production potential of the tree.
In order to prevent over shading, a certain amount of summer pruning should be performed. Summer pruning does not require any pruners when done at the right time of the season. Growth should be 12 to 18 inches long, or shorter and the wood should be a light green color.
Summer pruning should concentrate on the vigorous upright growth in the center of the tree. More detailed pruning should be done in the late winter or earl spring.
Water sprouts can be removed my grasping the twig and ripping it in a sideways motion to the branch. This type of pulling action will help prevent pulling bark off of the branch and causing injury to the tree. Pulling sprouts parallel with the branch will, often, end up stripping bark from the tree. Don't be afraid to take out sprouts, thinking that you are going to hurt the tree. Actually you are doing the tree a favor by opening up the tree to sunlight penetration.
If you look closely at the pictures below (before - top, after - bottom) you will see that the lower parts of the "after" tree are much lighter even though it does not look like much wood had been removed.
As mentioned before, failure to summer prune will end up killing many of the trees lower branches. The peach tree below shows virtually no fruiting wood on the lower half of the tree. Another added benefit of summer pruning is that some of the vigor will be taken out of the tree by reducing the number of leaves on the tree