Peach trees require regular pruning when young to establish a healthy branching system to support fruiting. When mature, occasional pruning to increase sunlight penetration and air flow can boost the performance of the tree. Annual pruning done well can boost the size and quality of fruit production and make harvesting easier work.
Inspect your peach tree regularly during irrigation or fertilizing time to look for broken or cracked branches, crossing or worn branches, dying foliage or signs of disease. Remove any of these that you find down to healthy wood and discard the cuttings.
Conduct annual pruning of your peach tree in the spring between the middle of February and the middle or end of April while the tree is dormant. Always prune after the last hard frost has passed in your region and no more cold snaps are immediately anticipated as the tree becomes susceptible to cold for a few weeks immediately after pruning.
Place all cuts just outside of the slightly swollen branch collar that connects a branch to its larger parent limb. Never cut a branch flush with its parent or into the parent branch flesh as this stunts healing of the wound and is an invitation to disease.
Remove branch shoots that are smaller than 6 inches long. Leave branches that are 12 to 24 inches long intact. Shorten branches longer than 24 inches by cutting just below a leaf node or bud. Remove any branches that cross or abrade one another. Remove no more than a quarter to a third of the tree branching in any one year's pruning as this will severely impact bloom and subsequent fruiting.