The peach is a stone fruit that grows in areas with warm summers and moderately cool winters as well as areas as far north as Zone 5, which includes northern Illinois, for example. Because the fruit contains 87 percent water, it is vital that you give your tree plenty of water when fruit is forming, especially during the 30 days before harvest. Adequate irrigation can increase your harvest by up to 25 percent. Drip irrigation is used in commercial peach orchards. But growers advise homeowners to use basin or flood irrigation to ensure that peaches receive sufficient water during their fruit-producing season. It is not necessary to water peach trees during the winter dormant season.
Irrigating Peach Trees
Install a drip irrigation system that has two to three large emitters (4 to 5 gallons per hour) surrounding each peach tree you want to water.
Run your system so that it delivers about 35 to 40 gallons of water every day during July and August. If you have three 5-gallons-per-hour emitters, run your system for 2. 5 hours every day. From the time the tree flowers in spring until fruit begins to mature in July, water your tree less frequently, but keep the soil moist.
Use flood irrigation if you have planted your tree with a basin of soil surrounding it and you choose not to set up a drip irrigation system. Deep watering encourages the tree to develop a good, deep-root system that enables the plant to endure hot, dry summer weather.
Spread a thick layer of organic mulch around the tree's trunk to keep the soil moist. Do not allow the mulch to touch the trunk. Keep it several inches away, in a doughnut shape.
Pull weeds and any other plants from at least 3 feet around the tree so those plants don't compete with your peach tree for the available water.