[NAFEX] Peaches!...now what?

Don Yellman dyellman at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 10 11:33:15 EDT 2003

Griffin Gardens wrote:
> Having a few welcome but unexpected pea to marble sized peaches set on 
> my young trees for the first time, I am unprepared and don't have a clue 
> what to do with them. My preference would be for a no or low spray 
> culture, but is that feasible ? We have hot humid weather from mid-July 
> to mid-August and our big fruit growing problems are brown rot and plum 
> curculio.
> Dave
> zone 4a
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How young are your young peach trees?  One year? Two year?  Three year? 
    One or two year trees will almost certainly drop the fruit they have 
set, but a third year tree might hold a few, and, if the branches they 
set on are strong enough, you can allow some to grow up.

Plum curculio is an early problem on peaches, but, since it has only one 
generation, is less so than the oriental fruit moth, which can have two, 
three, or even four generations depending on climate developments.  I 
just assume the OFM is around in my orchard throughout the growing 
season, and I am seldom disappointed.  The pinprick entry wound of the 
OFM becomes evident with a little blob of pectin on the surface of the 
fruit, and that break in the skin also provides an entry point for brown 
rot, which dooms the peach.  I have not found any solution for insects 
on peaches other than an early spray with Imdidan, which also takes care 
of PC, then regular cover sprays with Malathion or Diazinon up to two 
weeks from harvest.  There are some mating disruption pheromones 
available for OFM, but they are expensive, and I remain unconvinced they 
are effective in a small orchard, as opposed to the larger blocks of 
commercial plantings.

As I proceed with my multiple thinnings of the peach trees, spaced about 
two weeks apart, I drop those fruits carrying the telltale pectin blob, 
as well as any that show mildew on the surface.  I also prune off bushy 
growth around and above the peaches to allow light to strike them, which 
  helps them to size up, promotes air circulation and quick dryoff after 
a rain, and, I am convinced, discourages insect activity to some extent. 
  As the peaches size up, there are always plenty left to adequately 
fill the tree, and, if I am not careful, to put a significant load on 
the branches.  Peaches treated this way can become quite large; mine 
regularly weigh in at over 3/4 lb., and some are close to a pound.  We 
nearly always peel peaches before eating, and always scald and peel them 
before freezing, so I am not concerned about pesticide residues.

Since your trees are young, you don't have to worry much about thinning 
and pruning yet, and you may not even see much insect activity unless 
there are significant numbers of fruits on the tree.  But as the trees 
mature, and, with luck, begin to set large numbers of peaches, dealing 
with OFM and observing good cultural practices will become more important.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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