According to Texas A&M University, there are more than 1 million peach trees planted through the state. This makes peaches the largest deciduous fruit crop grown in Texas. Texas peach growers must contend with late frosts that can kill peach blossoms and clay soil that can become waterlogged. Texas falls within USDA Plant Hardiness zones 6 though 9. Different peach cultivators are well-adapted to each temperate zone, so peaches can be grown throughout the state.
Select a location for your peach trees that is located on a hilltop or plateau in relation to the surrounding landscape to reduce the instance of frosts. The soil should be well-drained with between 18 and 24 inches of loamy topsoil and a red clay subsoil. If the subsoil clay is blue or green, it will not drain well.
Test your soil to determine the soil pH. Texas A&M University maintains a soil testing facility to provide unbiased soil tests to the public. You can access this soil lab through the Texas A&M County Extension Service offices located in each county. An agent with the extension service can tell you the preferred method for collecting soil samples.
Break up the soil of your orchard with a tractor and disk plow to a depth of 12 inches. You can rent this equipment at a garden center or farm supply if you do not already have it. Based on the test results in Step 2, add soil amendments to make your topsoil more loamy and nutrient rich such as peat moss, compost and well rotted manure. You can also add lime to raise the pH of your soil. Spread these amendments over your soil in a 4-inch-deep layer with a rake and shovel. Then mix them into the soil with a plow. Always amend the entire orchard to prevent a potted plant effect in which your peach trees never develop beyond the area in which they have been fertilized.
Select peach trees that are adapted to your region of Texas. Each cultivator of peach trees has a specific number of chilling hours required in order to produce fruit. The panhandle of Texas receives up to 1,000 hours of chilled temperatures yearly, while the southern tip of Texas receives less than 200. Fruit trees that are hardy to Zone 6 in the panhandle will not thrive well in Zone 9 along the gulf coast and southern tip of Texas.
Plant trees in late winter while they are dormant in rows spaced 24 feet apart. Dig planting holes no bigger than the root ball. Place the tree’s root ball into the soil and cover with dirt. Water the tree to eliminate air pockets and cut the tree back to a height of 36 inches tall.
Wrap the lowest 18 inches of the tree with aluminum foil to prevent sunscald. When the tree begins to develop branches, prune it back to the strongest three scaffolding limbs. Cultivate shallowly around trees to remove grass that would steal nutrients from peach trees.
Prune trees yearly to open the canopy and allow light to penetrate the tree. Remove fruit-bearing limbs that are more than 1 year old. These limbs will not bear fruit after 1 year. Remove all sprouts and seedling trees from the lower third of the peach tree.
Apply 1 cup of fertilizer around the roots of a tree the first of each month in spring. Your soil test from Step 2 will help you determine what balance of fertilizer you need to add to trees.