Peaches picked ripe from a tree in your own backyard provide summer treasures for Texans. Peach trees grow well in the diverse growing conditions of the state as long as the grower picks a variety with chill requirements that match his zone. Texas peach trees usually begin fruit production during their fourth year of growth. Enjoy fresh peaches as they come from the tree or add them to ice cream, jams or salsas.
Select a site that receives full sun, provides space for air circulation and has a soil depth of at least 18 inches with good drainage. Two weeks before digging, call 811 (DIG-TESS) from a phone in Texas to have utility companies mark the location of their lines to ensure your site does not interfere.
Take a soil sample from the selected site and have it tested for nutrients and salinity. If using well water, test that for salinity also. Texas A&M Soil Testing lab offers low-cost testing. Follow recommendations from your soil test report for fertilizing and preparing soil.
Purchase and plant peach trees in winter from December through early March in Texas. Dig a hole equal in depth to the tree in its container and twice as wide. Place the root ball on firm ground and backfill the hole to half full. Firm the soil and water thoroughly. Fill the remaining hole, firm and repeat watering. Stake the tree and add a circle of mulch 2 feet from the tree. Space multiple peach trees 22 to 24 feet apart.
Prune the tree to a single trunk. After eight weeks of growth, select the strongest three to five shoots evenly distributed above the trunk. Remove all other shoots along the trunks or limbs. Remove weeds and water the tree every week during the first growth year, especially in areas west of Dallas (or Austin) with limited summer rainfall.
Prune about 40 percent of the peach tree each year during years two through four. Follow the “Homeowner’s Fruit and Nut Spray Schedule” offered by Texas A&M University extension service.
Pick peaches after they have ripened on the tree (usually in year four of growth). Discard damaged fruit.