[nafex] thinning peaches

dwoodard at becon.org dwoodard at becon.org
Wed Jul 4 05:39:21 EDT 2012

Alan, I think the underlying principle is that most of the energy to size
peaches comes from sunlight while the peaches are growing on the tree,
rather than before or after. Therefore the peach mass that can be
supported varies directly as the growing period, assuming that sunlight
energy per day is constant, not quite true but roughly. Temperature may
play a role in this equation since we are cooler than most U.S. peach
growing areas.

I've noticed that a row end tree that is severely thinned may be picked
almost clean at the first picking which will be relatively early. Heavily
loaded trees ripen slowly. Notoriously with a normal to heavy load the
peaches on top ripen much in advance of those lower on the tree, and any
tendency to laziness in the pickers can cause brutal losses as the topmost
peaches become overripe, rot and infect those lower down. That's one
reason why our commercial growers like the industrious and professional
Mexican and Caribbean pickers. It's also a reason why a proper orchard
ladder, harness and basket will pay a home peach grower over the years, by
making it easier to do a good job.

Doug Woodard
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Alan Haigh wrote:
> Doug, that is interesting.  I've never heard of spacing based on time
> of r*ipeness.
> What you've been told seems counter-intuitive in a way as later peaches
> have less time to recoup from stress of growing fruit, but I guess it's
> about getting the sugar up in earlier varieties.  If that's the case, the
> recommended spacing might be based, in part, on local climate.
> I still have to wonder if the recs have been endorsed by any scientific
> evaluation- always brings some comfort when dealing with other people's
> anecdotal observations, although I consider my own pretty much sacred (too
> bad there's is not a punctuation tool to denote irony- I hate having to
> write that I'm only kidding).  I've read a few commercial production
> thinning guidelines by the likes of Cornell and Rutgers and don't recall
> any mention of leaving more room for early bearers, only to thin the early
> bearers first.
> *Doug wrote-I was taught by local growers in the Niagara Peninsula:
> Early peaches, thin to 10-12 inches, except for cultivars especially prone
> to split pits.
> Midseason (Redhaven - Vanity) 8 inches
> Late (Madison) 5-6 inches
> I used to let peaches grow a little thicker on strong wood in the tops
> exposed to sun, and I would thin harder in shady parts. Row end trees can
> be loaded a little heavier. A heavy crop load slows ripening and increases
> the number of pickings required as well as decreasing size.
> Remove peaches likely to bump twigs, branches or other peaches, or stress
> their attachment to the tree, as they grow and get heavier. Save the
> peaches that won't make trouble.
> Doug Woodard
> St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
> Alan Haigh wrote:
>> Too many peaches not many leaves suggests a stressed tree.  Of course
>> too
>> many peaches can be the source of the stress and fruit should be thinned
>> to
>> at least a 5" distance when small.  Mature peaches should never have
>> been
>> grown densely enough to touch.  Rule of thumb as I recall is there
>> should
>> be about 30 leaves for every fruit.
>> A stressed tree may not set fruit the following year and then grow
>> vigorously without the burden of fruit.  That is, unless the stress is
>> from
>> something else- such as soggy conditions or heavy competition from
>> nearby
>> larger trees (peaches are particularly poor competitors in this regard).
>> Trees that tend to get broken branches are usually trees that grow
>> branches
>> of excessive diameter.  A  scaffold branch more than half the diameter
>> of
>> the trunk at point of attachment is an invitation to disaster-
>> particularly
>> with peaches.  During first couple years of training such oversized
>> branches should be removed unless you want to rely on ringing a tree
>> with
>> rope or using crutches.

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