Growing Peaches Successfully
Planting Dig hole at least one foot greater in diameter than the total spread of roots the depth of the longest root. Fill in lower 2 inches of hole with mixture of 50% native soil and a 50% mix of Soil Booster and 1-2 cups of Earthworm Castings. Press this mixture down firmly. Create a mound in the center of the hole with the soil mixture. Set tree upright in hole with stem in center. Spread out roots as evenly as possible over the mound of soil and back-fill mixture around all roots. Fill in hole completely, adding 1 cup fertilizer at this time, using either E.B. Stone Sure Start or E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Food. Make a basin for holding water by building a circular ridge around the diameter of the hole and fill slowly with water. The water will settle the soil around the roots. The graft should be positioned about 2 inches above ground level, facing north.
Watering Water when the soil 6 inches below the surface is just barely moist. Apply enough water to wet the soil 3 to 4 feet deep. Mature trees will require less watering, but should still get regular water during summer. Mulch with Microbark is beneficial, helping conserve moisture and keeping down weeds.
Feeding Feed three to four times during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer (16-16-16) such as E.B. Stone All Purpose Plant Food or E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Food. Avoid fertilizers too high in nitrogen as they will stimulate leafy growth at the expense of fruit production. It is not necessary to fertilize during the dormant season.
When to expect fruit: New whips are about 2 years old, so small crops should begin this year or next.
Pruning: The success of any deciduous fruit tree depends a great deal upon the initial training it receives the first three years.
1 st Year: Select 3-5 well-placed shoots, removing ½ of their growth. Remove or head other branches. Keep a vase shape by removing center branches of the tree, developing the branching from the outside.
2nd Year: Choose six well developed branches and cut back about two-thirds of their length. Cut just above a strong bud or lateral branch. Head back all other lateral branches to one-half of their length.
3-5 Years: Continue to prune in a vase shape. Don't worry about fruit production for the first 4-5 years. Prune to develop strong, evenly spaced branches. Fruit appears on branches and twigs from the previous summer's growth. Keep this in mind when pruning. To prune mature trees, remove dead, diseased and disoriented wood, especially those growing in towards the center of the tree. Keep the center open to light and air circulation. Cut back any branches that bore fruit last summer, they will not bear again. Thin out all branches to give an even distribution of branch growth, keeping the newer branches. Cut back all remaining one- year growth to one-third its length. Do not do any fruit thinning until after the normal June drop has occurred.
Pests and Diseases: Peach Leaf Curl affects foliage causing leaves to thicken and pucker. Serenade or Liquicop are both effective fungicides. Spray around Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day. Also, using an additional kelp fertilizer is said to inhibit the fungus. Brown Rot. Blossoms and young leaves wilt, decay and turn brown. Apply your choice of spray at detection and three weeks before harvest if needed (be sure to wash treated fruit). Clean up and destroy all debris regularly. Scale are insects that appear as crusty bumps. Young scale (crawlers) can be found a month after full bloom. Both can be killed with Year Round Oil Spray. Peach tree Borers. Holes appear in trunk and crotches. A thick gummy substance may ooze from holes. Apply an insecticide containing chlorpyrifos to trunk and lower branches (do NOT spray fruit or foliage). The following year, spray again in May or June. Shot hole fungus. This appears as small purplish spots on leaves and developing fruit in early spring. Spray in fall with Liquicop or Serenade soon after leaves have fallen, and again in spring when the petals have fallen from flowers. Prune out infected twigs and rake up infected leaves, destroy any debris.
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