Elberta Peach Trees are a popular choice both for commercial growers and for the home gardener. The trees' disease resistance and productivity make them a great choice. The dwarf version of the Elberta grows to a height of 15 feet and can be grown from Ontario to Georgia. Proper pruning of the Elberta is essential to maintaining the vigor of the tree and abundant production. The height of the dwarf Elberta allows easy access to branches, and makes pruning a quick and simple process.
Decide when to prune. Pruning should occur after all chance of frost has passed in the spring, but before full bloom of the flowers--anywhere from February to May, depending on location.
View the tree from a distance of 20 feet to decide which branches to prune. The goal of pruning is to allow sunlight to penetrate into the interior of the branches and to encourage outward and upward growth. Look for branches that turn inward, toward the center of the tree, or downward.
Put on gardening gloves. Cut off the branches identified above with either hand pruners (for small branches) or pole pruners (for larger or high branches). Make the cut where the branch intersects a main branch to maintain the clean look of the tree shape. Cut on a 45-degree angle, cleanly through the wood. The angle should face downward to avoid soaking new cuts with spring rains.
Repeat Step 2 after every few cuts to ensure your work is opening up the tree. It can often be difficult to see branches that need pruning up close, so taking a farther view can identify necessary cuts.
Examine the tree for any diseased or dead branches. Elbertas are very susceptible to bacterial spot, which affects leaves, twigs and fruit. Look for deep purple, brown or black spots. When spots merge it gives a scorched or ragged appearance. Bacterial spot generally appears first at the tip of the leaf. Prune branches that show signs of spotting or that are dead at least one inch back into healthy wood.
Take a final look at the tree for overall balance and symmetry. Prune branches that look out of place in the overall structure of the tree.