Growing A Peach Tree
CHOOSING YOUR TREE
When purchasing a tree for your backyard the single most important element is to get one that has the proper chill hours for your growing zone. Chill hours refer to the number of hours the tree needs below 45 degrees in order to set peaches.
For example, in Central Florida, growing zone 9, the ideal chill hours are between 150 and 250. If your tree requires more chill hours than you receive you will grow a beautiful tree, but ti will never set peaches.
CHOOSING YOUR LOCATION
When planting your peach tree it needs full sun, preferably all day. It can tolerate a little bit of shade, but no shade is best. Your tree will get 15-20 feet in diameter, give it plenty of room to grow!
HOW TO PLANT A PEACH TREE
Dig a hole slightly larger than your potted plant. Remove the plant from the pot, if the roots are heavy break them and pull down the tap root if necessary.
Fill the hole with water. As you place the plant in the hole work the soil in and around the root ball as you continue to run water in the hole.
The top level of the soil in the pot needs even with the existing ground level. Do not plant it deeper.
Thoroughly drench the soil with water around your tree every day for 2-3 weeks.
WATER & FFERTILIZER RECOMENDATIONS
Irrigation in peaches must be adjusted with the growing cycle of the tree, which can be broken down into 3 different stages. These phases can happen earlier or later in the season depending on the cultivar chilling hour requirement and the weather.
Phase 1: Flowering and fruit growth- January-May in central Florida. This phase is the most critical for quality fruit production. Drench the soil thoroughly 2-3 times per week.
Phase 2: Vegetative growth- Late May-November. Trees can handle drier soil through this phase. The peach tree needs a good solid drenching 1-2 times per week.
Phase 3: Dormancy-Mid December to Early January. At this stage, the trees will be losing all their leaves reducing it’s water requirements even more. Watering once every week or two will be sufficient.
A good heavy rain counts towards your irrigation needs!
Apply a slow 12-4-8 ( or comparable) slow-release fertilizer with micronutrients, esp. Zinc when the buds begin to swell in January. We use an 8-month slow-release fertilizer on the farm. If A 3-month time release needs to be repeated 3 times. Follow the application rate on the label. We also apply an 8-0-8 every 2 weeks beginning in January.
Discontinue your fertilizing program at the end of August to encourage dormancy.
Begin shaping your tree when it is young!
After your tree starts putting on new branches choose 3-4 main scaffold branches growing in 4 opposite directions to keep. Cut out the main center branch above the top scaffold branch and any extra branches. If you do not have 3-4 branches to choose from give it time, still prune out the center trunk and additional branches will sprout.
Pruning a young tree 1-2 years old
Thinning-2 to 4 weeks after bloom
For larger higher quality fruit you will want to thin back the number of peaches on the tree.
Thinning should be done when the peaches are about the size of almonds.
Remove peaches leaving one peach about every 6-8 inches.
This can feel very counterproductive at the time, but you will be so happy you did it when you harvest big juicy fruit!