As harvest approaches for apple trees, it is a good idea to walk around your trees and observe how things look on August 1st. Look at your overall pruning job and take note as to what you should change next year. Is there adequate airflow through the tree? Can sunlight reach all of the fruits? How do the leaves look? And of course the fruit: clean? insect damage? fungal issues? size of fruit?
Each tree has different issues and by observing them individually throughout the season you can address some of those needs pre-emptively next year. Be sure to take good notes in your journal
I noticed the first wave on GPTB today in my sticky wing trap. Tomorrow I will spray the lower trunk of my peach trees with a solution of neem. I will not spray the leaves as this pest is interested in boring into the trunk to lay its eggs. I will also drench the base of the tree to try and reach the grub stage of the insect. I will attach a link from Ohio State for more information about the Greater and Lesser Peach Tree Borer. Note that the treatment that they recommend in the article is not an organic product.http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/pdf/2032.pdf
Of all species, peaches can be pruned the most during the growing season. A complete pruning after harvest can put energy into the shoots that will give fruit the following year. Getting light on new wood (hence the need for an open center) is very important for peaches and will keep those areas productive for a much longer time.
This information came from local grower Mark Wessel via his friend Alan Haigh, an orchardist in the NY area.
Peach and apple trees can live happily side by side in the orchard but there are some differences to keep in mind.
Do not prune peach trees too early. Wait until they are almost ready to bloom, even waiting until they have begun to bloom. The peach blossoms are more susceptible to frost and an early pruning will wake them up before the cold weather has passed.
Peach trees should not be grown with a central leader. On a young tree, pick 3 or 4 limbs about 3-4 feet from the ground as your scaffold branches and cut the leader off. There are some good YouTube videos that show this process. Those branches will continue to grow outward and with some tip pruning each year, will spread and continue branching. A mature peach tree pruned this way will not be pretty (my opinion) but will allow maximum sunlight to reach all of the fruit.
Established peach trees are heavy feeders, unlike apple trees. Commercial orchards use heavy doses of ammonium nitrate each spring to achieve those giant fruits. Organic orchards can use blood meal – up to 3 lbs. for an established tree. Apply this at least a foot from the trunk and extend to the drip line. One or two year old trees just need a balance fertilizer to get them established. The Feed Barn on Cincinnati/Dayton Road has blood meal at a good price but if you just need 3lbs or so, Lowes has an organic product at about $7.00 per bag.
Next post: bacterial spot and peach tree borers