Round 2 of Pruning – Selecting The Main Scaffold Branches
In December we pruned our baby peach trees down to sticks and then we anxiously twiddled our thumbs while we waited to see how they would grow in the spring. Now it’s Mid March and there has been an incredible explosion of new growth. The new branches are showing exceptional vigor and are outpacing even the few branches the tree may have retained after the initial pruning. The new growth is awesome, but now we need to start making hard decisions on which branches we want the tree to keep. At this point this baby tree had about 10 branches coming out of the 18-24 inch height range. We need to reduce that down to 3-5. Break out the pruning shears.
The idea here is to have 3-5 equally spaced branches after this second round of pruning. Equally spaced branches will allow the tree to make the best use of the space around it and collect a lot of sunlight without overcrowding that would put many leaves in the shade. The image above is before pruning. The image below is after pruning. To be honest, I should have removed that branch that’s pointing to about 9 o’clock. We have a 3rd round of pruning to do though, so we’ll get to it in about a month.
Trim below 18 inches.
Remember that we’re trying to get the tree to develop branches between 18 and 24 inches off the ground. Any branches that are below 18 inches should be removed unless there simply aren’t any other branches that will leave the tree with a healthy spacing of branches. It’s OK to use a branch that is developing below 18 inches if necessary, you’ll simply have to work around it later in the life of the tree.
Shoot the Shoots
You may have some shoots that come up from the bottom of the tree. Not only are these growing too low on the tree, but they’re also growing from the rootstock. You need to remove them. It may come as some surprise to know that the ROOTS of your baby peach tree are not the same kind of tree that you see above the ground. Peaches dont grow true to seed, so in order to develop more of the exact same type of cultivar, you graft the right type of cultivar onto a rootstock that may not even be a peach tree at all!
We still have more pruning to do. This month we left 3-5 branches on the trees. Next month we are going to select the final three branches that will make up the main scaffold branches that the tree will have for the rest of its’ life.