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Peach Tree Care: How to Ensure a Strong Bloom

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If you’re curious about when peach trees produce fruit and whether there’s anything you can do to encourage fruit development, this article is for you.

Peach trees require a sufficiently deep dormancy for bloom growth in spring. Sustained temperatures of between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 7.2 °C) for between 100 and 1050 hours, known as chill hours, must precede the bloom stage. Chill hours vary according to the peach tree cultivar. 

When Will My Peach Tree Blossom? 

Peach flowers are a sure sign that spring has sprung or, minimally, that the worst of winter is over. Their arrival heralds summer’s abundance is not long in coming.

Chill Hour Requirements 

As mentioned above, peach trees only bloom after a sufficiently long and cold season of dormancy. 

While some fruit trees only require a few days below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 °C), others may need as many as six weeks of consistent temperatures above freezing but below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (~7°C).

Peach farmers call these chill hours, watching their thermometers with anxious expectation. They know that if their trees don’t get enough chilling hours, it will impact their crops.

Peach trees can be damaged by frost, which is why most peach orchards are planted on slopes, avoiding the frost of low-lying areas but ensuring that chill hours are optimized.

States With The Most Peach Trees

As a guide for potential peach tree growers, it’s interesting to see the eight biggest peach fruit production states listed on Statista.

  1. California
  2. South Carolina
  3. Georgia
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. New Jersey
  6. Colorado
  7. Michigan
  8. Washington

Representing warmer regions is Florida state, with Florida University’s IFAS offering a selection of hybrids specially developed for shorter chill hours requirements.

Penn State Extension offers valuable guidance for our readers interested in commercial peach tree growing, as does the University of Massachusetts

Below is an abbreviated list of old and new tree varieties and their respective chill hours and temperatures. Varieties developed by USDA and UF are low chill and have a shorter chilling time. 

VarietySeasonChill Hours
June GoldEarly650
DesireeEarly700
HarvesterMid750
LoringMid800
ChallengerMid850
WinbloMid850
Scarlet RoseMid900
Red HavenMid950
July RoseMid1,000
ContenderMid1,050

You can find comprehensive chill hour requirements at Alabama Cooperative Extension and Auburn University.

Peach Tree Cultivars

Peaches bloom according to their cultivar in early, mid or late spring. While most commercial peach farmers are in hardiness zones 5 – 9, warmer climates like Florida have cultivars adapted to warm weather.

PennState, for instance, has an extensive list of peach varieties that allow harvesting from the end of June to late summer, even early fall.

Prunus persica ‘Redhaven’ is often referred to as the standard peach, and It produces medium-sized, dark red blushed yellow fruit. The flesh is sweet, firm, and freestone offering great quality and taste.

Redhaven peach trees bloom showy, pink flowers in mid-spring, with fruits ripening from July to August. Expect two to three harvests as the fruits mature over a week or two.

Using the Redhaven standard, other common peach tree varieties may bloom and ripen, as listed in the table below. More information can be accessed at the University of Missouri Extension.

Peach CultivarSeasonComments
Earlystar-21The earliest common cultivar.
Garnet Beauty-10A Redhaven hybrid is well-suited for cooler areas.
Redhaven0Used as the peach standard. Thin fruit to produce fruits of optimal size.
Blazing Star2Another favorite. softer than Redhaven.
White Lady4White-fleshed and low-acidic flavor
TangOs5Doughnut variety yellow peach.
Reliance11One of the hardiest peach tree varieties.
Contender18A great choice
Allstar19Fruit skin is redder than most peach tree varieties.
Sugar Giant20The name says it all.
Loring21Popular for preservings.
Messina28Late-season peach tree variety.
Victoria45A resilient peach tree variety

Peach Tree Age

Fresh peach tree growth doesn’t bloom in its first year. Seasonal growth has to be cold-treated, going through dormancy, with the species requiring chill hours before becoming productive.

You can expect your peach trees planted in the spring to begin blooming (and fruiting) the following spring. Peachtree bloom colors vary, including yellow/gold, pink, burgundy/red, and white.

While peach trees can live up to 50 years, your home garden peach tree ought to produce fruit for 8 to 10 years – if you take care of it. Much depends on local temperatures, soil quality, pest and disease management, and peach tree varieties used.

A peach tree (Prunus persica) bears fruit 2 to 4 years after planting, but most purchased trees are already a year or two old. Always select healthy trees that are in, or have gone through, a full-bloom stage.

Getting Your Peach Tree to Bear Fruit

Other than the required chill hours, peach trees require special care for optimal production. A strengthened root system, access to sunlight, well-draining soil, and pest and disease control are all important.

Fruit trees with a healthy root system are more resilient and productive as they have better access to water and nutrients. Root growth is stimulated by pruning.

The Benefits of Proper Pruning

Regular pruning stimulates root growth and allows the grower to shape the tree for optimal yields. It may mean sacrificing initial fruit in the first two years, but it is worth it as pruning strengthens the root system essential to support more fruit later.

When to Prune Peach Trees

Most fruit-bearing trees need pruning during dormancy, but not peach trees. Prune trees when their flower buds start swelling early in spring. Depending on your variety, flower buds will start emerging around February.

The reason for early pruning is that the tree is at its optimal resilience and vigor at the start of the season. Cold temperatures turn stored starches into sugars, giving the tree a pre-season growth boost.

Once the plant is in full bloom, energies are focused on production, and plant resilience is lower. Pruning peach trees in dormancy increases the plant’s susceptibility to fungal diseases. Always sterilize pruning shears with rubbing alcohol between cuts.

Improving Fruit Producing Synthesis 

Regular pruning at the start of every season allows you to shape your tree for an improved peach harvest, full sun penetration to the fruit, and control of fungal diseases. 

Some varieties, like Corinthian Pink, are especially tall (25 ft. (7.6 m)), but most varieties are between 12 and 14 feet (3.6 – 42.2 m) wide and tall. 

Creating a Vase-shaped Tree

Start by pruning away dead or diseased limbs from the tree’s base. These are usually discolored non-fruiting shoots. Remember to retain the tender-year-old reddish shoots, allowing them to overwinter and become producers.

After you’ve finished, look up at the tree for a while. Before cutting, be sure you have a firm grasp on your ultimate goals. When pruning a peach tree, most people choose a V-shape, with three to five main branches serving as the vase.

These V-shaped branches would be most effective if they were uniformly spaced. The goal is to ensure that the tree’s center has access to sufficient air and sunlight.

Trimming the tree’s highest branches allows you easier access to fruit in years to come. It also makes it simple to care for the tree. 

Removing the apical meristem (the center upward growing branch) from young trees helps them spread. Select three to five major forks you wish to keep and prune the rest. 

Remove any branches that are growing vertically upward, horizontally or low branches. Keep in mind that your goal is to produce a V-shaped tree.

Once you’ve removed all the non-fruiting branches, trim the remaining red shoots within 24 inches of lateral buds. Pruning before peach blossoms ensures your tree will soon be laden with delicious fruit.

Dwarf Peach Trees

A dwarf peach tree produces fruit two to three years after planting, sooner than a standard peach tree. They take up less space and are easier to harvest fruit from.

The trade-off is lower productivity. Still, for those with smaller gardens or as ornamentals, dwarf peach trees are a great solution.

Fruit Production Inhibitors.

Peach trees may not bear fruit every year. Factors such as chill hours, plant resilience, and wood production all play a part in fruit production.

As mentioned above, age is a factor too. The most productive trees are at least three years old in their first decade. Dwarf varieties may bear fruit sooner than standard-size peach trees.

Reason for Fruit Trees not Bearing Fruit

Your peach tree bears fruit when:

  • It has energy available to grow fruit. Excessive wood growth consumes energy that could be used to bear fruit. This is generally caused by over-fertilization.
  • There are sufficient flower buds. In some years, trees may require aggressive pruning. Don’t expect a harvest that year, but much more the following year. 
  • It is resilient. Next year may not be as good if your tree’s energy is tapped this year. This is known as biennial bearing and is more common in younger trees. 
  • Late frost doesn’t destroy early emerging first flowers. A false spring in late winter (warm weather) can trigger flower buds that will be killed by a late frost, preventing fruit that year.
  • Suppose you purchase stock from reliable suppliers. Planting stones from your peach tree may produce a sterile tree.
  • You practice fruit thinning. Removing imperfect young fruit allows the remaining developing fruit to excel. Allow 6 – 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) between fruits.

Expected Peach Yields

Mature peach trees can produce as much as 300 pounds of peaches per tree per growing season, but this depends on several factors, your husbandry being the most essential. 

Good plant husbandry involves managing plant risks, optimizing health and growth, and ensuring your peach trees get the best care possible. While you have little control over weather conditions, you can minimize frost damage.

Good soil drainage is essential in keeping peach trees’ roots healthy, the foundation of a productive tree. Adding compost and biochar helps boat soil biodiversity responsible for soil aeration and water retention.

Peach trees need about 36 inches of rain annually, so watering peach trees is seldom needed. What is needed is an early application of low-nitrogen fertilizer to produce flowers and further application after the fruit has formed. 

In Closing

Peaches, with their beautiful flowers in early spring and delicious fruit throughout the hot summer, are a favorite stone fruit globally. I loved writing this article and hope the links I provided will answer all your queries on peach trees.