While there are many possible reasons for low peach production, two of the most common are a lack of fertilization and a lack of pruning. If your peach production was lower than desired last year, then you need to take action in the spring to ensure your trees are properly pruned and fertilized this season.
Fertilizing Peach Trees
Young trees have very high nutrient needs, since they are not only setting fruit, but also developing new branches and leaves at a fast rate. If your trees have been in the ground for 2 years or less, follow these fertilizing recommendations:
- Begin fertilizing early in the spring, just around the time the first buds appear on the trees, and continue fertilizing every couple of weeks until July.
- Use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Fertilizers of this type contain equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
- After mixing your fertilizer with water according to package instructions, make sure you apply it to the ground as far out as the widest branches.
If you have older trees, you only need to fertilize them twice during the growing season -- once in early spring before the buds appear, and again in early summer. Once again, use a balanced fertilizer and dilute it as instructed on the package.
Pruning Peach Trees
Only branches that are two years old produce peaches. If your peach tree has a lot of old growth, these older branches will suck resources away from the tree without producing any fruit. Thus, it's important to have your trees pruned every year, so that primarily new, high-producing branches are left behind.
Spring pruning should be done just before the buds emerge. The old, gray branches should be removed at their bases, and the short, red shoots should be left in place. Experts recommend removing about 40 percent of the tree each spring. Just make sure that the 40 percent you remove is comprised of the oldest, toughest branches.
Pruning not only helps the tree to focus its resources on fruit production, but it also increases airflow through the tree. This helps reduce the risk of fungal infections, since the leaves are less likely to stay moist.
If you're not confident in your ability to prune your peach trees yourself, consider hiring a professional like one from Tidd Tree to do so. Over-pruning or removing the wrong branches can harm fruit production as drastically as not pruning or fertilizing at all.