Growing your own fruit can be extremely rewarding and there is nothing better than biting into a homegrown, juicy peach. Peach trees need quite a bit of care and attention though to successfully grow in your home garden. One of the biggest problems is damage caused by cold winters or frost. Certainly, you should not attempt to grow peaches if you are outside U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 8, as the climate is unsuitable. On average, you would expect to plant about four peach trees to produce abundant fruit for the whole family.
Amount of Peaches Produced
The number of peaches your tree produces each year will vary, depending on winter temperatures and possible frost damage to the buds. Trees produce more and better fruits when they receive full sun for at least six hours a day. Peaches grow on twigs that are at least 1 year old, so you will need to have a robust pruning system in place to keep your tree at optimum production levels. Trees set more fruit in years when little frost damage occurs. You should expect a mature peach tree to produce an average of three bushels of fruit annually (120 to 150 pounds of fruit). If planting more than one peach tree, choose different cultivars to stagger the harvesting season and avoid wasting any ripe fruits.
One key to successful peach tree fruiting is regular pruning and thinning, which produces optimum sizes of fruit. When your tree produces too many fruits for it to sustain, you will need to thin fruits to a 6- to 8-inch spacing by hand when they are about the size of a quarter.
The best method of training your peach tree is to prune into an open-center scaffold shape. Open-center pruning encourages maximum fruit yield and quality and allows more sunlight to reach the growing fruits. When you first plant your tree, cut it into a whip, which is a shoot of about 26 to 30 inches in height with no lateral branches. This produces the best shape. In following years, prune all upright shoots and the center trunk.
Ripe peaches will be a deep yellow or creamy color and will have firm and unblemished skins. The color will vary depending on cultivar grown, however, green fruits are immature and should be left on the tree to ripen. The home refrigerator is the best place to store ripe fruit.
- United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: Plant Hardiness Zone Map
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Growing Peaches and Nectarines in the Home Landscape
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Growing Peaches
- University of Missouri Extension: Home Fruit Production, Peach and Nectarine Culture
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