How to Weed Out Peaches on a Peach Tree for Growth

Overview

Removing excessive numbers of tiny peaches in spring from the tree branches yields two benefits. Dr. John Pyzner of Louisiana State University mentions that reducing the developing fruit clusters on peach tree (Prunus persica) branches allows for higher quality fruit development and prevents branch breakage from heavy crop loads. Selectively pruning off small peaches a month after the flowering ends can be time-consuming. Plucking off peaches as late as a couple weeks before they are ready for harvest can still improve the flavor and final size of the peaches that remain on the branches, too.

Step 1

Gently shake the peach tree's branches in early spring to cause some flower buds and flowers to drop off the branches. You need to vigorously jar the branches, but don't place so much pressure on them that they crack. Dr. Pyzner mentions that peach trees naturally tend to over-produce, so losing some flowers helps diminish the subsequent number of fruits in a few weeks.

Step 2

Repeat gentle shakes of the peach tree's branches once the early spring flowering wanes. This will drop petals as well as any weak-stemmed developing fruits. You can withhold the shaking until you see small peaches the size of peas on the branches and then shake them every couple of days to shed them.

Step 3

Clip away small developing peaches from the branches about four to six weeks after the flowering ends--a process called "thinning out." By this time you will be able to readily see the peach fruit clusters and spacing of fruits across the tree's canopy. Use heavy-duty scissors or other narrow-bladed cutting instrument to snip out peach fruit stems. Leave one peach, spaced every 4 to 6 inches, along the length of branch.

Step 4

Monitor the development of the peaches on the tree in late spring and early summer, removing any deformed or damaged peach fruits. You can thin out peaches until two to three weeks before that variety's expected ripening date in your area. Don't rely on this late-term thinning to ensure your developing peaches are of the best size and quality.

Tips and Warnings

  • If harmful late-season frosts occur as your peach tree is blooming, do not shake the peach trees to remove flowers or buds. The frosts will greatly reduce the number of flowers that survive and get pollinated. So, in years where frosts harm flowers, wait until late spring for fruit thinning by hand to see what amount of fruits you have to work with.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty scissors

References

  • Louisiana State University Ag Center: Fruit Tree Thinning Adds Quality, Notes Horticulturist
  • University of Georgia Publications: Peach Thinning
Keywords: thinning peach trees, developing peach fruits, peach tree care, growing better peaches, peach fruit development, improving peach quality

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.