WIt’s funny as the year begins and we edge toward warmer weather it easy to get everything done in the orchard and garden. As we hit the end of April and beginning of May (at least here in Tennessee) it seems like EVERYTHING requires something done to it. It seems like it all has to be done at the same time. It’s exhausting but so fulfilling!
Somewhere between mulching, pulling weeds, repairing raised beds, making more raised beds, planting seeds, spraying trees so they don’t develop fungus and bugs don’t descend on the fruit, tending to roses, transplanting into the garden, cleaning coops, supervising ducklings swims -the cutest job EVER- and a thousand other things we finally got around to thining peach trees, I know it goes against everything in you to pluck those baby peaches off the tree after all of the work you put in.
When Your Peach Trees Are Covered In Fruit
Our peach trees are covered in fruit this year and they look fabulous! In fact, it’s the best they have ever looked! It took a lot of time to prune, fertilize and spray our trees with liquid copper, organic natural dormant sprays and organic natural fungicides and insecticides. We’ve been hitting it hard the last two years (we’ll be writing about that and sharing our recipes and spray lineup soon) and we are seeing the fruit -pun intended- of our labor.
Why Should You Thin Peach Trees?
Peaches like most stone fruit have a habit of producing more fruit than it can keep up with. This will make the fruit stay small and damage the health of the tree. It takes a year or more for the tree to recover (some don’t ever recover). When you thin out the fruit it keeps the tree from being overwhelmed and helps balance out the fertility of the trees for yearly harvests. It also keeps the branches from breaking under the weight of the fruit. It helps to keep the flesh of the fruit looking healthy, and gives them more access to sunshine and allows them to dry faster.
When To Thin Your Peach Trees
Most fruit trees thin themselves to some degree on their own. Almost all stone fruit including nectarines and peaches will need to be thinned. Generally, plan on thinning your trees one month after your trees are in full bloom (or when your fruit is between 3/4″ and 1″ in size). If you live in warmer climates like we do this could be as early as April. If you live up in Northern states it will be as late as June. You don’t want to do it when the fruit is too small because it can cause split pit in mature fruit. But if you wait until the fruit is bigger than 1″ the tree’s resources have already been taxed by the extra load.
How To Thin Peaches
Experts sources suggest that you thin fruit to a minimum of 3″-8″ between fruit. We went with 5″ apart for ours. The fruit is covering the trees this year so we thought that would work the best. We also went ahead and removed any from the crook of branches that would likely break the branch.
We thin our fruit by hand with the help of a ladder. Simply measure by palm length between fruit. Pinch the stem of the fruit we wish to remove with our thumb (you can also gently twist them). If you find clumps of fruit go with the biggest. Remove any that are damaged or show signs of bugs. Favor the ones toward the trunk. The ones on the tip of the branch where it is more likely to break off. Another quicker but much less accurate way to do this would be striking the branch with a stick to knock fruit off. Although this maybe true, we prefer to hand thin where we can.
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