Most peach growers in the Ohio River Valley had a great peach crop in 2016. Here are some observations from the orchard at Hayfields:
Proper pruning after planting is essential for training your peach tree. The goal is to keep an open center and have the 3 or 4 main scaffold branches continue outward and upward in a stair step pattern. This allows maximum sunlight to reach the fruit.
Thinning of the fruit load is not an option, it is mandatory! Peach wood is very soft and the branches will break if the load is not thinned. Also you will not get big, juicy fruit. Small, hard fruits will not develop into a delicious finished product. One fruit every 7 inches is the goal.
Varieties: I cut down my old Champion Peach. There were several reasons. First, I didn’t know how to prune the tree when I planted it 20 years ago. Because of that, all of the fruit was at least 15 feet in the air making picking very difficult. Also because the skin on that white fleshed peach is very thin, the stink bugs made piercings all over the outside of the fruit. While the flesh was still good inside, the appearance made them impossible to sell.
I currently grow Red Haven, Contender and Blushing Star. I am curious to try Mary Jane and Carolina Gold, two varieties that my friend touts as having exceptional flavor.