While young, peach trees need annual pruning to develop a strong shape, mature peach trees continue to need regular care, for both tree health and shaping. Pruning mature trees increases air circulation and light, helping to keep the peach tree disease-free. Pruning also maintains the shape of the tree and eliminates unhealthy wood. Always prune peach trees in the dormant season, once frost danger has passed and before the tree has produced new foliage.
Identify dead, diseased or damaged growth on your peach tree. Dead growth does not move in the wind. Diseased or damaged growth is marred, wounded, discolored or physically different from healthy wood.
Prepare a cleansing solution by mixing 1 part bleach and 10 parts water in a bucket. Place your pruning tools in the bucket.
Cut off dead, diseased or damaged wood at its base or trim back to a healthy Y-intersection. Use anvil pruners for cuts smaller than 3/4 inch and lopping shears for thicker cuts. In between each cut, place the tools back in the cleansing solution to sanitize them.
Remove suckers growing along the tree trunk of from past pruning cuts, as suckers will never bear fruit.
Prune away upward-growing offshoots that grow vertically from fruiting wood. This is poor growth that will only cast shade on lower branches. Also cut off downward-growing limbs or those impeding movement underneath your peach tree.
Cut away branches that crisscross other branches, because the pressure of their rubbing damages the wood. Remove weak limbs or old limbs that no longer bear fruit; this opens up the canopy to light and air, which helps the fruit ripen.
Trim healthy limbs back by one-fourth to promote lateral branching.