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Peach tree pruning advice
I planted a peach tree in June and didn't prune it yet. I was wondering what would be the best way to prune and the best time. Thanks
Hi Ben, plan on pruning that tree in late winter (February or early March in your zone).
Once you're ready to prune, you want to encourage your new tree to have a good form. The right form allows the branches to get plenty of light and helps them grow strong (which means more fruit for you). Fruit trees are typically either grown with a central leader (one main central stem) or an open form (with 3-5 main branches coming out from the center, kind of like a big cup). It looks like your tree isn't in either form right now, so you'll want to do some shaping.
You have two main branches (we call these leaders) rather than one main branch, with one growing upright and one growing out at an angle.
If it were me, I'd prune back that second, angled leader. That will give your tree one main central leader. It may seem like you're taking off a lot of the tree, but in the long run, your tree will produce better. Trees with competing leaders tend to be weak and may eventually break.
Let's tackle the second leader first: prune its length down by about two-thirds to three-fourths. Then, remove all of the smaller branches/twigs on that second leader. You'll probably have about two long branches left. Prune those two remaining branches down to about a third of their length. This should give your tree some balance. Alternately, you can prune that second leader off entirely. It's up to you.
Then, prune away half of the smallest branches on the main leader. Also, prune away any branches that are growing right above one another. You should end up with about five or six branches on the main branch. Don't clip the top of the main leader.
If you left the second leader, leave that smaller branch that is coming out at the same place on the opposite side of the trunk as the second leader. Even though it's small right now, eventually it will get larger and help balance your tree a bit.
Make all of your cuts using clean, sharp pruners right up against another branch.
Once you're done, if it looks like the main branch is tilting a little, feel free to use some stakes to train it to grow straight and upright.
Peaches are my favorite fruit tree to grow and I hope you enjoy yours!
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