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How to Prune Young Peach Trees

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Peach trees date as far back as the 10th century in China and arrived in the United States in the 17th century, according to Naturehills.com. Many varieties of tree exist, and they grow well in full sun with well-drained soil. Thinning the branches every year will help sunlight reach the inner section of the tree, providing nourishment and preventing disease infestation. It's especially important to prune young peach trees because that's when their form is starting to take shape.

Prune young peach trees as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter injury. Summer pruning will dramatically cut the energy portion of the tree and result in less growth. You can prune as soon as buds start to appear, but it's better to wait until growth is a few inches long.

Cut small, thin branches with a hand pruner. Lopping shears or small pruning saws can be used for slightly larger branches. If you're dealing with branches 6 inches thick or more, use a pruning saw.

Know the different types of cut. A tinning cut is when you remove an entire shoot. A heading cut involves pruning only the terminal portion of a shoot, which encourages the lower buds to grow. The most drastic is the bench cut, which removes upright shoots, opening up the center of the tree and spreading branches outward.

Cut the main, center branch (or leader) of the tree. Place the cut 24 to 30 inches above the highest branch of the first set of three to four branches, which is called the scaffold whorl.

Remove all branches that have grown directly across from one another on the leader or central stem. Also, cut off any branches that grow from the leader with angles less than 60 degrees; these branches will break if they are loaded heavily with fruit.

Encourage growth on three or four branches and pinch back the ones that dominate. This will create evenly spaced branches.

Cut off shoots that are competing with the leader. For the tree's health, there must only be one central stem. The goal is to have the tree's frame open in the center so sunlight can reach the fruit and leaves.


Things You Will Need

  • Ladder
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Hand pruner
  • Small pruning saw
  • Lopping shears


  • Wear goggles and gloves when pruning trees.
  • Have someone else spot the ladder when you're on it.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.