Georgia is famous for the size and quality of its peaches. Peaches come in three varieties (freestone, clingstone and semi-free) and two colors (white and yellow). In Georgia peaches ripen from mid May to August. While Georgia produces 40 varieties of peaches commercially, home growers have a larger range of choices when planting peaches.
Plant peach trees in a full sun location, since they need full sun to develop fruit. Plant during December and January in Georgia. Immediately after planting, trim back the tree to a height of 18 to 24 inches to promote a good shape as the tree develops.
Paint the bottom two-thirds of the tree's trunk using white acrylic paint. This prevents against sun scald during Georgia winters.
Prune the young tree in March. Select four to five strong-looking limbs; these will become your scaffold limbs. Remove all other limbs and any suckers growing up from the tree's trunk.
Fertilize a newly planted peach tree three times during the first year, in March, May and July. Per the University of Georgia's recommendations, scatter 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the tree trunk in March and 1 1/2 cups in May and July, and water the soil until it grows saturated. In the second year, increase the amount to 2 cups in March and 2 1/2 cups in May and July. Alternately, use 1/2 cup of 20-20-20 fertilizer in March of the first year and 3/4 cup each in May and July, followed by 1 cup in March of the second year and 1 1/4 cups in May and July of the second year.
When the trees begin to bear fruit in year three, switch to fertilizing twice annually and give 3 lbs. of 8-0-24 in March and 3 lbs. of 10-10-10 in July (or 1 1/2 lbs. 20-20-20).
Water trees six years of age and younger with 12 gallons of water per foot of canopy radius per week. So a young tree with a 6-foot canopy radius requires 72 gallons of water per week, typically over two to three days.
Use a soaker hose or a standard hose to provide water. Time how long it takes for the hose to fill 1 gallon of water, then time this by the number of gallons you need.
Prune a Georgia peach tree in February or March using anvil pruners and lopping shears. Remove any suckers and poorly fruiting wood, which you can identify because it shows no developing flower buds. Trim away water sprouts, which grow off branches but do not bear leaves. Cut away any downward-growing or weak-looking branches. Remove branches that rub up against other branches, as well as branches that compete with the scaffold limbs. Cut away older wood, which has gray bark rather than maroon bark. Thin out fruiting wood so as not to overwhelm the tree.
Provide mature trees with 125 gallons of water per week (this includes rain) in the same manner as you water young trees.