Here at Pearson Farm, we are busy pruning our peach trees in preparation for another great growing season! As sure as the seasons change each year, we know that every February is our time to get out in the field and start pruning. The main idea behind pruning is to remove old and unhealthy limbs in order to maintain a rounded tree form that allows for proper light penetration and air circulation, creating a robust and healthy peach crop. With that in mind, here are the four main steps we work through when pruning our trees:
1. First, we remove all shoots and water sprouts around base and lower area of the tree. By removing this lower growth, we create a clear area for herbicide application and help increase air circulation through the peach tree.
2. After clearing up the lower part of the tree, we turn our attention to removing the limbs that are growing sideways and those that are at an angle greater than 45 degrees. These limbs stymy the growth of the healthier and properly angled limbs. Through their removal, we are able to free up the peach tree’s resources to focus on producing a great crop.
3. With the majority of the angled and flat limbs cut away, we then move to the inside of the tree. Taking a close look at the limb structure, we typically try to remove all of the shoots and limbs that grow towards the inside of the tree. Peach trees produce the best fruit crop when they have a rounded limb structure around a hollow base. This design allows for optimal air circulation and encourages a healthy growing season.
4. The last step in the pruning process is cutting off all of the old, dead limbs. By eliminating unhealthy and diseased areas of the tree, we help the peach tree concentrate its nutrients and energy on only the healthiest limbs; encouraging a robust peach crop.
Pruning our peach trees is an annual ritual that marks the countdown to spring and peach season. After many years of farming, we have discovered that there is a reason the pruning process has changed little over the last hundred or so years: because it works. With that, we look forward to finishing up the pruning process and eagerly await the beautiful, pink peach buds followed by the arrival of some delicious Georgia peaches!