How to Grow Peach Trees

Introduction

There are countless reasons for growing peach trees: the satisfaction of picking your own homegrown fruit, creating family memories, preserving your harvest... there are so many!

Some key factors to remember about growing peach trees:

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make is choosing the right location for your new peach tree. This requires thinking ahead, with the success of your tree at heart:

  • Have you addressed your tree’s pollination needs?
  • Is this location going to provide enough sun?
  • Does this spot have the right kind of soil for your peach tree?
  • Is there enough space for the tree to mature?

Find out how to prepare your soil prior to planting, and learn how to plant bare-root and potted peach trees. The instructions make it very easy.

After getting your peach tree safely settled in its new home, you can address the “Care & Maintenance” phase. Learn how often and how much to water and how to avoid the problems that arise from under- and over-watering.

Peach trees need good food, too! Fertilizing is a critical element in whether your trees just survive, or thrive. Equally as important is when to start/stop fertilizing. Did you know that continual feeding can actually make trees vulnerable to winter damage?

The Care & Maintenance section will also teach you about pruning peach trees, which prefer an open-center/vase-shape structure. This method keeps the tree’s canopy open to light — an essential element in the quality of the fruit and stability of the tree. Here, we also review common peach-tree pest and disease issues, while explaining the importance of spraying to control current problems and help to prevent future ones.

Discover great tips on all these topics and others – like harvesting – in this series of articles. You can navigate to any article by using the “In This Series” menu, or follow the “Next/Previous” navigation markers at the end of each article.

Getting Started

Acclimate

Acclimate (ac·cli·mate): "To become accustomed to a new climate or to new conditions. Also to harden off a plant."

Acclimating peach trees helps minimize environmental stress when planting. Because our potted peach trees are grown in our controlled greenhouse environment, they may arrive to you already sprouting tender new growth. This growth can be sensitive to things like:

  • Temperature (below 50ºF or above 90ºF)
  • Frost snaps
  • Strong/direct sunlight
  • Wind

These conditions are more likely to occur during early spring, but can happen during other times of year in different growing zones. We strongly recommend following this simple process prior to planting peach trees that are leafed out:

Step 1. Upon arrival, keep your peach trees in their pots and place them in a sheltered, shady spot outdoors, like a back porch. Leave them there for 3 to 4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1 to 2 hours per day. Bring them back indoors each night.

Step 2. After 2 to 3 days of this hardening-off process, begin transitioning the peach trees from their shaded spot to one that provides some morning sun. Return them to the shade in the afternoon. If this conflicts with your schedule, try moving the trees to an area that receives less-intense, filtered sunlight instead. Be sure to bring the trees indoors again overnight.

  • Water as needed to keep the roots from drying out. If the soil in the pots is dry to the touch, then you know it’s time to water. You may occasionally mist the leaves with water, because the environment indoors is drier than outdoors.
  • Observe the foliage daily. If signs of leaf injury/burn appear prior to planting, move the trees back into filtered sunlight and start from the first step again. Progress to Step 3 after conditions improve.

Step 3. After 7-10 days, your peach trees should be ready for planting in their permanent location, as long as temperatures stay between 50ºF and 90ºF. For best results, try to transplant on a cloudy day.

  • If daytime temperatures are expected to drop within the next day or so, continue to repeat Step 2. Monitor your trees, and the weather, until conditions are more suitable for planting outdoors.

Please note: These are general recommendations. Your particular growing environment might require a slight variation on these guidelines, because some trees can take more (or less) time than others to harden off. Factors like the current year’s weather, individual trees, and your location can all affect the acclimation process.

Location

The best way to succeed: plan before you plant!

Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new peach trees? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • The surroundings
  • Proper spacing
  • Consideration of future plantings

Cross-Pollination

Most peach trees are self-pollinating; however, additional nearby peach trees (within 50 feet) of a different variety can improve fruit-set.

Almost all of Stark Bro’s peach trees are self-pollinating, meaning your mature tree will bear fruit without requiring another peach variety’s pollen. The only peach tree we sell that requires a pollinator is Stark® Hal-Berta Giant™, which can be pollinated with any other peach tree.

Peach trees are the ideal solution for small spaces, because in most cases they don’t require planting another peach tree for cross-pollination. Consider planting one of these popular self-pollinating peach trees:

Sun, Soil Type and Drainage

Peach trees thrive when growing in a location that receives full sun and has a well-drained, fertile soil. “Full sun” means at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day during the growing season. Light is vital to fruit production and quality, and also helps keep fungal issues from taking hold. Remember this when choosing a location for your new peach trees.

Good soil drainage is necessary to keep a peach tree’s roots healthy, and healthy roots are the foundation of a healthy tree. If you find that your native soil is composed of heavy clay that retains water after rainy weather, you should choose a different site for your peach tree.

Conversely, if your site has fast-draining, sandy soil, then your peach tree may exhibit drought stress and may require more frequent watering. For your growing success, we do not recommend planting peach trees in either rocky or heavy, pure-clay soils. If you can’t plant elsewhere, you can try amending the soil prior to planting or planting in containers or raised garden beds.

Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Peach trees can be very adaptable and they respond well to soil additives like compost or fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor.

Amending the soil greatly depends on your individual location, so communicating with your local county Cooperative Extension is a wise first step. In general — to help with water distribution — you can add coir, like our Coco-Fiber Growing Medium to your peach tree’s planting hole, or mix in one-third sphagnum/peat to the soil at planting time.

As an alternative to all of that digging, you can:

  • Build a bottomless raised bed (at least 12 inches deep and at least 3 to 4 feet around).
  • Plant your peach tree in a container. Repot your tree in a 5-gallon container, to start. You can “pot-up” peach trees into successively larger containers as the trees outgrow them.

Surroundings

Peach trees can also be a landscaping asset, so choose a planting site with this in mind. Imagine your young peach tree as full-grown, and think everything through:

  • Are there utility wires or any other obstructions overhead?
  • Are there underground cables, pipes, irrigation systems, utilities or other lines to avoid?
  • Is there a sidewalk, driveway, or foundation within the range of your peach tree’s mature spread?
  • Might your peach tree block the view of something you want to see once it’s fully grown?
  • Will my neighboring trees be in the way or block sunlight from your apple tree as they grow?

Even a year or two after planting, a peach tree can be very difficult to successfully transplant, so take the time to plant it in the perfect place the first time around!

Space Wisely

Growers often ask about the recommended planting distances for peach trees to keep them away from patios, sewer lines, water pipes, etc. Ordinarily, patios will not be a problem because the soil beneath them is dry and compacted, and the roots will not be as encouraged to grow into this area. Conversely, sewer and water lines tend to be wet, which will encourage peach tree roots to grow toward them if planted too closely.

A smart distance is somewhere beyond your peach tree’s estimated maximum spread, which is roughly equal to the mature height of the peach tree you choose to plant. Our recommendations are below:

Space Between Trees:

  • Dwarf: 8 to 10 feet apart
  • Standard: 18 to 20 feet apart
  • Columnar: 2 to 3 feet apart
  • Miniature: 4 to 6 feet apart

Space for Future Plantings

If you’re new to planting peach trees, or you’re planting them in a new location, it’s wise to start with just a few. Later on, especially after you have reaped the rewards of growing your own peaches firsthand, you may want to expand your home orchard. Always err on the safe side and leave room for future peach trees, other fruit trees, berry plants, and other garden plants. You’ll be glad you did!

Approximate Tree Sizes

Planting

Successfully establishing a young peach tree starts with your planting site and method. Once a peach tree is well established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit. Here’s how to make give your trees a strong foundation.

Peach trees require fertile, balanced soil for good growth, so before you plant, test the soil where your trees will live — including the soil pH. Refer to the section on Soil Preparation for tips on testing your soil.

If the soil pH where you plan to plant your tree is between 6.0 and 7.0, you’re in good shape — this is an ideal range for peach trees. Take a look at the established trees and plants around the site. Do they look healthy? Are they growing well? This will help give you an idea of the success you can expect with new plantings in the same area. Remember to steer clear of heavy clay soil or any soil that is poorly drained.

Peach trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool, especially if they arrive bare-root and dormant. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Do not expose roots to temperatures that are freezing or below. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

Planting Bare-Root Peach Trees

  • Before planting: soak the bare-root peach tree’s roots in a bucket or large tub of water for 1 to 2 hours. This keep the roots from drying out while you dig the planting hole. Avoid soaking roots for more than 6 hours. Remember: do not expose roots to freezing temperatures (or below) prior to planting.

  • Dig the planting hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily spread and grow. Keep the more nutritious topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it will do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix aged/rotted manure, garden compost, coir or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. The peat moss you get should either be baled sphagnum or granular peat. Note: Peat has a low pH, so if you use this rather than neutral coir, it may affect the soil pH around the roots. Coir, like our Coco-Fiber Growing Medium, can be added instead of peat — or just work in 2 or more inches of organic material with the existing soil.
  • Place the peach tree in the center of the planting hole with its roots down and spread out. Holding onto the trunk to keep it vertical, backfill the hole, putting the topsoil back in first. Important: keep the graft union (the noticeable “bump” in the lower trunk) 2-3 inches above the ground for dwarf and columnar types. For standard-size peach trees, situate the bud union 1 to 2 inches below the soil line. Read more about Planting Budded and Grafted Peach Trees below.
  • Fill in the soil carefully around the roots, tamping it down firmly as you refill the planting hole. This will eliminate air pockets that may cause the tree to be loose in its planting hole.
  • Especially if you’re planting on a slope, create a rim of soil around the planting hole about 2 inches above ground level. This is called a “berm” and it works to catch water so that it can soak in, rather than run off and cause soil erosion. Spread the soil evenly around tree.
  • Read more about Digging a Planting Hole and Planting Bare-Root Fruit Trees.

Planting Potted Peach Trees

Peach trees that are grown and shipped in our Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pots are a result of our continuing quest for better and stronger trees. By following these simple instructions, you’ll be assured of getting your new potted peach tree off to the best possible start.

  • Before planting: When your peach tree arrives, carefully take it out of the package. Your potted tree has been watered prior to shipment and should arrive with damp soil around the roots; however, it does need another drink when it arrives at your home. Be sure the water reaches all of the roots, all the way to the bottom of the container. If you can’t plant your tree immediately, keep the roots hydrated and keep the tree in a sheltered location until you’re able to plant. Do not place your potted peach tree in a bucket of water. This could cause the roots to rot and weaken, or even drown your peach tree.
  • Your potted peach tree is ready for planting as soon as it arrives. To remove the tree from its temporary container, simply grasp the sides of the pot and carefully slide the tree out. If the tree’s roots do not easily slide out of the container, you may need to gently pry the inside edges of the container away from the root system, and loosen it until the roots slide freely from the pot.

Note: do not plant the plastic Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pot in the ground. It is not intended to break down over time as your peach tree grows, and it will cause root restriction, injury, or may even be fatal to the tree. The pot your tree arrives in is intended to be a temporary container only.

  • While some potting soil might shake loose, most of it should remain around the peach tree’s roots. Gently separate, untangle, and spread out the tree’s roots and place it, soil and all, into the prepared planting hole. Backfill the hole with topsoil, same as you would a bare-root peach tree (see above). Water thoroughly.
  • Your potted peach tree may have come with a bamboo stake, which helped straighten the tree as it grew in its pot. Remove the bamboo stake and replace it with a different tree stake, if you prefer. We recommend that you keep young trees staked when you plant to help keep them growing vertically.

Budded and Grafted Peach Trees

All Stark Bro’s peach trees are either grafted or budded to ensure true-to-name nursery stock. You can see where the fruiting variety on top is joined to the root variety on the bottom by a bump in the lower trunk, by a change in the bark color, or by a slightly offset angle in the tree.

Grafted peach trees need special planting attention. For most peach trees, especially dwarf varieties, it’s very important to keep the graft above the soil level; otherwise, roots could develop from above the graft, and your peach tree could grow to full size by bypassing its dwarfing parts. Budded and grafted peach trees are manually fitted to specially selected clonal rootstocks.
For dwarf and columnar peach trees, the bud union should be planted 2 to 3 inches above the soil line. For ideal anchorage, standard-size peach trees should be planted 1 to 2 inches deeper than the visible soil line made when the trees grew in our nursery rows.

Post-Planting

Thoroughly water your newly planted peach tree. A deep soaking with about a gallon of water is ideal. If you plan to fertilize at planting time, you can add a water-soluble product like Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer to your gallon of water and water your peach tree with the solution.

If planting in the fall, wait until spring instead to apply fertilizer. After watering, if soil appears to settle and sinks into the planting hole, just add more soil — enough to fill the hole to ground level again.

Mulch

Apply 2 to 3 inches of organic material like wood bark (rather than an inorganic material, like rocks) around the root zone of your peach tree. Mulching helps discourage weeds, prevent evaporation, water-pooling and freeze injury around the trunk going into winter. In the fall, double the mulch layer or add a layer of straw for extra winter protection.

Note: Rodents and other small gnawing critters may make a home out of mulch that is applied too thickly. In winter, they could chew the tree’s bark for sustenance — a type of injury that can be fatal, especially to new peach trees.

One final tip: Please be sure to remove the name tag from your peach tree. As the tree grows, this small piece of plastic can choke off its circulation, causing damage like girdling and even death. If you’d like to keep the tag on your tree, retie it loosely with soft twine and be sure to keep it from restricting the tree as it grows.

Soil Preparation

Preparing the soil before you plant will greatly improve your peach tree’s performance and promote healthy new growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested prior to planting, and even annually after planting, to determine if it’s lacking in any essential minerals or nutrients. You can use one of our digital soil meters to test your soil or collect a soil sample to send to your local county Cooperative Extension for testing.

Once you know more about your soil, you can make informed decisions on amendments, like macro- or micro-nutrient fertilizers, pH correction, and water drainage.

Common Soil Types

  • Clay and silt soils are made of very small particles. They feel slick and sticky when wet. Clay and silt hold moisture well, but resist water infiltration, especially when they are dry. Puddles often form on clay or silt soils, and these soils become easily compacted.
  • Loam soils are loose and look rich. When squeezed in your fist, moist loam will form a ball, which crumbles when poked with a finger. Loam soils normally absorb water and store moisture well. Loam soils can be sandy or clay-based, but are a generally a mix of sand, silt or clay, and organic matter. They will vary in moisture absorption and retention.
  • Sandy soils contain large particles that are visible to the unaided eye, and are usually light in color. Sand feels coarse when wet or dry, and will not form a ball when squeezed in your fist, regardless of water content. Sandy soils stay loose and allow moisture to penetrate easily, but will not retain water for long-term use.

When to Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done any time of year that the ground is not overly saturated with water, or frozen.

Common soil amendments for peach trees include:

  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Garden lime (raises soil pH from acid to alkaline)
  • Garden sulfur (lowers soil pH from alkaline to acid)
  • Sphagnum/peat moss

Your lawn can provide you with free organic materials, such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients naturally, but they will help compose a loose, rich soil as well. You can gather these materials in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Adding organic materials like compost will improve the composition of most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can soak in and roots can spread.

Care & Maintenance

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is an excellent way to replenish the nutrients in your soil, especially nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages green vegetative growth, which is exactly what you want to promote before your peach tree reaches its fruit-bearing years.

Always test your soil prior to applying any fertilizers. Different soils can have varying amounts of native elements needed to support peach tree health and development. If you discover your soil lacks any necessary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphates, potash, etc.), be sure to choose a fertilizer that supplements the soil’s nutrient deficiency.

Get to know your soil and discover the importance of soil testing prior to making any changes.

About Fertilizer

Fertilizers — both synthetic and organic (naturally derived) — are soil amendments labeled with a “guaranteed analysis” of nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), and Potash (K).

Alternately, there are organic soil amendments, like compost and aged/rotted manure. They are applied like fertilizers, but they are not technically fertilizers. You can make your own organic soil amendments, like compost from food or garden scraps, or even find compost, manure, and other organic soil amendments from a trusted local source. While these help add nutrients to the soil to support your peach trees, they will not have a “guaranteed analysis” value.

In general, peach trees thrive when macronutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) are present. Nitrogen helps encourage vegetative growth (leaves and branches). Phosphorus encourages root and blossom development. Potassium/Potash is responsible for the peach tree’s natural disease-resistance and systems supporting its overall health, kind of like an immune system. Our water-soluble Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer is specially formulated for use on young peach trees (and all young fruit trees), because it provides the nutrients these young trees take in during their first years in the ground. More established trees benefit from a focused nutrient supplement like Stark® Orchard Fertilizer.

Macronutrients

Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium are the “big” macro-nutrients peach trees need to grow normally. They are present in healthy soil, but may be added when soil is deficient. Nitrogen is the nutrient most used by growing peach trees; it moves throughout the soil, is leached off by normal growth and must be replaced by synthetic or organic compounds. The main source of nitrogen is decaying organic matter. Signs of macronutrient deficiency in peach trees include reddish or pale colored leaves, narrow or shrunken leaves and round dead spots on leaves.

Micronutrients

Peach trees also need micronutrients in the soil, which help make the macronutrients available to the tree. For example, molybdenum helps fix nitrogen to the soil, and chlorine converts sunlight to food (photosynthesis). Copper and zinc prevent color mottling and misshapen leaves. The easiest way to add micronutrients is by adding aged compost or a good, balanced fruit tree fertilizer.

When to Fertilize Peach Trees

  • In nutrient-rich soil (determined by a soil test), there is no need to fertilize until your peach trees begin bearing fruit (average: 2-4 years). If your new peach trees fail to put on an average of 8 to 12 inches of new green growth during the growing season, consider fertilizing the following spring.
  • Typically, fertilizers are used during the growing season, as soon as the soil is workable in early spring —but stop by July 1*. Always refer to the information printed on your product’s label for specific application instructions. Be mindful that local advisories on fertilizing may be in effect during different times of year. For the sake of your local environment, please adhere to these restrictions.
  • After your peach trees start bearing fruit, their uptake of nitrogen increases, so an application of high-nitrogen fertilizer is recommended once in early spring. One type of good high-nitrogen fertilizer is our Stark® Orchard Fertilizer granules.

*To avoid the chance of injury as the growing season winds down, do not fertilize later than July 1st.

Read more about fertilizing:

Pest & Disease Control

As it grows, a peach tree may show signs of pests or diseases. Factors such as location, weather, and upkeep play a part in which issues your peach tree encounters, and how well it stands up to them.

Disease-resistant peach trees are easy-care options for growers who prefer a low-spray or no-spray orchard, and — for all peach trees — routine maintenance* can help keep most problems at bay.

*Good maintenance practices include: adequate watering, fertilizing as needed, seasonal pruning, preventive and active spraying, fall cleanup, and winter protection.

The following are merely intended as a means of identifying potential issues. Don’t be alarmed — a peach tree may experience a few of these in its lifetime, but certainly not all at once.

Peach Tree Pests

Aphids

Tiny, pinhead-sized insects, varying in color depending on the type. Will cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices.

Symptoms: Leaves curl, thicken, yellow, and die. Aphids produce large amounts of a sticky residue called “honeydew” that attracts insects like ants. Honeydew also becomes a growth medium for sooty mold.

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Lygus Bugs and Stink Bugs

Lygus bugs are small oval insects that are brown, green, gray, or almost black with a yellow “V” on the back. Stink bugs are usually gray or brown, shield-shaped and about ½-inch long.

Symptoms: Lygus bugs damage fruit and blossoms. Stink bugs puncture fruit and suck out the juice, causing sunken spots on young fruit or deformed mature fruit (cat-facing). Both can be headed off by planting your peach trees away from hay fields, which serve as a host.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust
  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap

Oriental Fruit Moth

Pests and damage are similar to the Codling Moth. Adults are small, ½-inch grayish moths. Larvae are pinkish-white with a red-brown head, about ½-inch long. Pheromone traps are an option for luring moths.

Symptoms: Damage first appears on vegetative growth, and left untreated will eventually infest fruit. Larvae tunnel in through the stem and often exit near the pit.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust

Borers

Includes: American plum borer, Pacific flatheaded borer, Peach twig borer, Peachtree borer, Shot hole borer

These pests burrow and feed underneath the bark on the sapwood, weakening the tree and leading to death. Borers may target the graft location (in young peach trees) for laying eggs as well as damaged or sunken areas, and even a few inches below the soil line. Grubs have cream-colored bodies. Difficult to control once infested; preventive action is the best defense.

Symptoms: A thick, gummy substance (sap) leaking from round holes on the trunk or in a crotch of the tree. Grubs tunnel through trunks, weakening and eventually killing the tree. Eggs hatch and larvae tunnel into tree’s vascular tissue.

Control: Manual

  • If infested, use a fine wire to try to pierce, mash, or dig grubs out.
  • Traps (tanglefoot-coated logs or posts) can lure adults. Remove from site and burn after trapping.
  • Preventive spraying (including the ground around the roots)

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer

Additional Resources

  • Contact local county Cooperative Extension for further advice

Fall Webworm

This species is similar to the eastern tent caterpillar, but constructs its web over the end of the branch, rather than in tree crotches. It feeds on nearly all trees, excepting conifers. The webworm caterpillar is about an inch long with a black to reddish head and light yellow to greenish body with a mottled stripe of two rows of black tubercles and tufts of long whitish hairs. Adults appear as white moths with dark spots on the wings.

Symptoms: Branch ends are encased in a large web where larvae feed, skeletonizing the leaves.

Control: Manual

  • Remove webs with a rake (caterpillars are removed with webs) and burn

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Thuricide® BT

Leafroller

Small caterpillars, about an inch long in colors from pale yellow or green to brown. Leafrollers often have dark heads.

Symptoms: Leaves and blossoms are rolled and webbed together where larvae feed. Foliage eventually becomes skeletonized. Leafrollers do not burrow into fruit, but may scar it.

Control: Manual
Hand-removal of webbed foliage and keeping area free of weeds and debris may be enough to manage the pest.

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust
  • Bonide® Thuricide® BT
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Nematodes

Includes: Root-knot nematodes, Ring nematodes, Lesion nematodes, Dagger nematodes

Nematodes (microscopic worms) live in the soil and in plant tissue, and can do a lot of damage to peach trees. Have the soil tested by your county extension agent prior to planting to determine the extent of their presence.

Symptoms: Nematodes perforate tissue cells and feed on them, usually damaging the roots. Tree growth is stunted and leaves may show signs of yellowing (chlorosis). Sandy soils are more susceptible.

Control: Preventive
Fumigate pre-planting (in the fall, while the temperature is still about 55 degrees), or alternate nematode-unfriendly cover crops. Purchasing peach trees with nematode-resistant rootstock is the best prevention.

Control: Spray

  • Nimitz, a nematicide approved by the EPA in 2014, is a non-restricted use pesticide with less stringent regulatory restrictions and reporting guidelines than fumigators. As of mid-2016, it was not yet widely available in retail gardening stores.

Plum Curculio

Also Curculio beetle

Adult is brownish gray, 1/5-inch long, hard-shelled beetle with a long snout and 4 humps on its back.

Symptoms: Cuts a crescent-shaped hole in fruit skins and lays eggs inside. Grubs hatch and tunnel within fruit. Fruit may drop prematurely or have grubs/worms or tunnels inside at harvest.

Control: Manual

  • Site Cleanup.
  • Thin crescent-shape scarred fruit as soon as it appears.
  • Remove dropped fruit as soon as it appears to avoid re-infestation.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Neem Oil

Scale

Includes: San Jose Scale and other types of scale

Usually on bark of young twigs, branches. Gray, circular bumps protect the female, whose eggs hatch immediately into small yellow crawling insects. The young scale secrete a white wax, which eventually turns black. Scale may also be on the fruit.

Symptoms: Sap-feeding weakens the tree.

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Neem Oil

Tarnished Plant Bug

Yellowish-brown, winged insect that may have black spots or red stripes.

Symptoms: Damage is caused by injecting toxins into buds and shoots, causing stunted vegetative growth and sunken areas (often called “cat-facing”) on fruit.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Tent Caterpillar

Adults are moths. Caterpillars are a hairy, grayish brown with cream-colored spots or stripes down the back.

Symptoms: Encases large areas in webbing and feeds on enclosed leaves.

Control: Manual

  • Remove webs with a rake (caterpillars are removed with webs) and burn.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Thuricide® BT

Thrips

Tiny, slender, fringed-wing insects ranging from 1/25-inch to 1/8-inch long. Nymphs are pale yellow and highly active. Adults are usually black or yellow-brown, but may have red, black, or white markings.

Symptoms: Feeding occurs on vegetation by puncturing and sucking up the contents, causing appearance to be deformed or discolored (similar to damage by mites and lace bugs).

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Peach Tree Diseases

Anthracnose

Also “bitter rot” of peaches

Anthracnose is an infection that affects many species of fruit trees, including peach. Most of the damage is cosmetic, but still needs to be controlled. Rain and irrigation systems can spread the disease, which tends to occur in warm, wet weather.

Symptoms: Anthracnose of peach trees usually occurs on ripe or nearly ripe fruit. Small brown or tan lesions, which enlarge and darken, gradually become circular and slightly indented. In early stages, these lesions may be confused with those of brown, black or white rot, but anthracnose spots are firmer and bigger, and are often accompanied by rings of pink spore masses. Leaves and twigs remain unaffected. Anthracnose will not kill the tree, but will damage the fruit/yield.

Control: Spray
Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental (wettable powder)

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

Armillaria Root Rot

Also “oak root fungus”, “shoestring rot”, and "mushroom rot"

All stone-fruit rootstocks are susceptible to Armillaria root rot, which smells distinctly like mushrooms and occurs on the upper roots and/or crown of the tree. This destructive fungus lives within dead and living roots is transferred from root system to root system. It can live for up to 30 years.

Symptoms: Roots infected with Armillaria mellea have whitish-yellow fan-shaped mats between the bark and the wood. The tree trunk is girdled. Dull, yellowed, or wilted foliage is usually the first sign of trouble; infected trees usually die slowly.

Control: Manual
Exposing an infected crown and upper root area of a peach tree may help to slow its growth into the crown. In spring, remove soil from around the base of the tree to a depth of 9 to 12 inches. Leave the trunk exposed for the remainder of the growing season. During the spring, summer, and fall, keep the upper roots and crown area as dry as possible. Recheck the hole every few years to make sure it has not filled in with leaves, soil, and other matter; the hole must be kept open and the crown and upper roots exposed.

Brown Rot

Also "mummy rot"

Brown rot is a fungal disease that commonly affects stone-fruit trees, including peach trees, especially after a long, warm, wet spring. It is one of the most common peach-tree diseases. It affects the fruit tree’s flowers and fruit crop, but is not fatal. Fortunately, brown rot is easy to spot, prevent, and treat.

Symptoms: Blossoms may brown or wilt. Dark sunken spots appear on new shoots, and leaves on infected limbs will be brown and droopy. Affected fruit develops small spots of rot that enlarge quickly, developing fuzzy tan/grey spores that cover the fruit surface. If left on the tree, fruit shrivels, darkens, and hardens into “mummies.”

Control: Manual
Plant a resistant variety, like Venture in a well-drained location. Prune regularly to keep trees open to light and air circulation, and remove any pruning debris, damaged or diseased fruit and limbs, as well as fallen fruit to avoid sites for fungi to thrive (do not compost). Thin fruit to avoid good fruit touching infected fruit. Disinfect your pruners between cuts to avoid spreading the fungi.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide
  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental
  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Spray preventatively if brown rot is problematic in your area, even before symptoms appear.

Canker (bacterial and cytospora)

Cytospora canker is caused by the fungus Cytospora spp. and attacks trees via weak or injured bark. Bacterial canker is caused by Pseudomonas syringae. Both tend to occur during cool, wet weather. They act and are treated similarly.

Symptoms: Infection appears as yellow-orange and black regions that later ooze a gummy substance which may have a foul odor. Cankers eventually develop in the branches, encompassing the circumference of the wood until it dies.

Control: Manual
Prune off infected twigs and limbs where cankers have affected the branch. Cut out cankers that are less than half the branch circumference. Use a small, sharp knife and score the wood all the way around the canker, about an inch away from it. Dig the tip of the knife into the wood and bark as you work, and maintain a 1-inch margin around the circumference of the canker.

Slip the knife under the bark and remove the diseased inner bark, which is usually a rusty brown color. Round the edges of each incision to promote rapid healing, but do not remove the wood from the uninfected area below the canker.

Clean up any wood chips or debris and either burn it or dispose of it in the trash. Do not compost infected debris. Bleach the knife used to excise the canker, rinse and pat dry.

Apply fungicide spray to small wounds during wet periods and during dormant periods.

Control: Spray
Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental (wettable powder)

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Crown Gall

Caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens — a bacterium that inhabits the soil and causes rapid, abnormal growth (developing into galls). Can spread through injury to roots in the soil as well as through gardening tools carrying the bacterium.

Symptoms: Trees appear stunted and slow growing; leaves may be reduced in size. In mature, fruit-bearing aged trees, may see little or no fruit. Woody, tumor-like growths called galls appear, especially at the crown (ground level) and below. Growths can restrict water and nutrient flow, but often the damage isn’t extensive enough to cause immediate or total death. If tree has died, inspect roots for hard, woody ‘tumors’ to identify Crown Gall as the cause. Note: Crown Gall is not the only thing that can cause stunted trees.

Control: Prevention

  • Purchase gall-free nursery stock. Crown gall symptoms are generally well developed on finished nursery stock, making inspection a useful prevention strategy.

Additional Resources

  • Contact local county Cooperative Extension agent for further advice

Peach Leaf Curl

This is a common fungal disease that affects peaches and nectarines. Leaf curl can severely inhibit fruit production. Disease fungi overwinter underneath the bark, around buds and in other protected areas. During cool, wet spring weather, the spores infect new leaves as they emerge from the buds. Later, the fungus produces millions of new spores, which are splashed or blown from tree to tree.

Symptoms: Leaf curl shows up in the spring as reddish areas on new leaves, which then thicken and crinkle, causing them to “curl.” Spray the whole tree after most all of leaves have dropped in the fall, and again in the early spring, just before buds open.

Control: Manual

  • Select resistant varieties whenever possible.
  • Keep the ground free of leaves and debris, especially over the winter.
  • Prune and destroy infected plant parts as soon as you see them.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Phytophthora Root Rot and Crown Rot

Soil pathogens in the genus Phytophthora can cause crown and root rot diseases of almost all fruit and nut trees, as well as most ornamental trees and shrubs. This disease appears if the soil around the base of the tree remains wet for prolonged periods, or when the tree is planted too deeply.

Symptoms: Infected trees often wilt and die quick as soon as the weather warms up. Leaves may turn dull green, yellow, or even red or purplish. Symptoms may develop first on one branch then spread to the rest of the tree. Dark areas appear in the bark around the crown and upper roots. Gummy sap may ooze from the diseased trunk. Reddish-brown areas may show between the bark and wood.

Control: Manual
Good water management/drainage is the key to prevention. Never cover the graft union with soil and try to avoid direct watering of the crown. If you suspect crown rot, carefully cut away affected bark at the soil line. Trees can sometimes be saved by removing soil from the base of the tree down to the upper roots and allowing the crown tissue to dry out.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental
  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide

Powdery Mildew

Caused by Podosphaera leucotricha — a fungus that overwinters in buds and emerges during humid, warm weather progressively throughout the growing season.

Symptoms: Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt-like patches on buds, young leaves, and twigs. Leaves may crinkle and curl upward. New shoots are stunted.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Rust

“Tranzschelia discolor”, commonly referred to as rust, overwinters in twigs or in leaves on the tree. A preventive fungicidal regimen is recommended: apply fungicide one, two and three months before harvest in areas prone to early-season outbreaks of the disease, and post-harvest in areas where disease is less of a problem, or emerges late-season.

Symptoms: Rust causes cankers to form on branches, followed by the appearance of pale yellow-green spots on both upper and lower leaf surfaces. The spots have an angular shape and eventually turn bright yellow. Spots on leaf undersides develop brown/orange spores. In some areas, rust damage extends to the fruit.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental
  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide

Scab

Caused by Venturia inaequalis — a fungus that overwinters in fallen leaves and pruning debris. Favors cool, wet weather (typically in spring).

Symptoms: Spots on young leaves are velvety and olive green, then turn black; leaves wither, curl and drop. Fruit also has spots, is deformed, knotty, cracked and drops.

Control: Manual

  • Plant scab-resistant peach trees if possible, especially in areas where peach scab is a known issue
  • Remove and dispose of pruning debris. Fall clean-up is essential to controlling overwintering fungus.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental

Control: Natural Spray

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Additional Resources:

  • Contact local county Cooperative Extension for further advice (including recommended scab-resistant varieties that are known to perform well in the area)

Shot Hole Blight (coryneum blight)

This disease gets the name from infections that appear as small tan spots on young leaves. The spots turn brown with purple borders, and the spotted areas eventually drop out of the leaf, appearing as if they were hit with a BB gun or buckshot.

Symptoms: Small, red-brown or purplish spots occur on new leaves and shoots. The spots expand, and the center turns brown. Tiny, dark specks sometimes form in the center of lesions, especially on leaves. Spots on young leaves have a narrow, light green or yellow margin and their centers often fall out as leaves expand, leaving “shot holes.”

Peach tree buds are killed in the winter. Fruit may become rough, with spotting on the surface. Circular lesions may develop on branches.
Some varieties may be less susceptible, so choose carefully. Where disease incidence is high, fungicides may be applied. On peach trees, a dormant spray of copper fungicide in late fall will work well.

Control: Manual

  • Keep the ground free of leaves and debris, especially over the winter.
  • Prune and destroy infected plant parts as soon as you see them.
  • Avoid overhead sprinklers to keep foliage drier.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Other Peach Tree Issues

No Blossoms or Fruit

Peach trees take about 2 to 4 years after planting (on average) before they bloom or bear fruit. If enough time has been allowed to pass, and the peach tree is otherwise healthy, there are a few things to do to help it become fruitful.

  • Make sure a pollinator variety is present. Most peach trees are self-fruitful and do not require another different variety of peach tree to bear fruit, but be sure to check that this applies to the variety you are growing. If a pollinator is required, choose another compatible peach variety.
  • Make sure your peach tree variety is recommended for your zone. Low winter temperatures can injure sensitive fruit buds, hindering fruit production.
  • Space trees far enough apart to help avoid nutrient or light competition. Adequate space encourages a healthy and productive tree. Spacing can be estimated by the mature spread of the tree.
  • Prune to help keep the fruiting wood and vegetative wood in balance so that there isn’t too much leaf development in lieu of blossom development in mature trees — or too much fruit-bud development and not enough leaves to “feed” the fruit.
  • Know your soil. Soil conditions, and the presence of necessary nutrients, help keep a peach tree’s roots supplying nutrients through its vascular system. If the soil is poor, or poorly drained, this affects the health and viability of the tree as a whole. If the tree is being over-fertilized, especially with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, it may develop lush, vegetative growth (leaves and branches) instead of developing fruit buds or blooming.

Additional Resources:

Sunscald and Sunburn (Scorching)

Sunscald/sunburn occurs during hot, dry growing seasons — with or without humidity in the air, but most commonly when humidity is low. Sunscald is also called winter injury or “southwest injury” as it commonly affects the southwest side of tree trunks during winter. Brown, crispy edges appear on leaves. Warm, clear days cause bark to expand and nights that are several degrees cooler will cause the bark to contract, damaging cells and causing splits and cracks in the trunk.

  • Protect trunks prior to winter with tree guards or a diluted solution of water and white latex paint (50/50).
  • Water new trees every 7 to 10 days during the growing season (if there is no rain within the week), or as needed (as the soil becomes dry to the touch).
  • During the growing season, consider constructing a temporary shade cloth to protect trees from the sun on hot, dry days. Water as needed (see above).

Additional Resources:

Water Stress

Can be caused by both overwatering and underwatering. Overwatering commonly presents as pale green to yellow leaves and leaf drop, which can weaken a tree, lead to root rot, and ultimately kill the tree. Underwatering often presents as discolored (usually yellowed), dry leaves. Tree may appear to wilt overall. Prolonged lack of water can kill the tree.

  • Water new trees every 7 to 10 days during the growing season (if there is no rain within the week) or as needed (as the soil becomes dry to the touch).
  • If planted in a location where the soil does not adequately drain water after heavy rains (leading to standing water), relocate the tree as soon as possible.
  • If drought-like conditions persist, consider slow-trickle drip irrigation to allow water to reach the roots rather than wash over soil surface.

Additional Resources:

Wind Injury

Symptoms: Can involve injury such as leaning/uprooted trees, breaks, tears, or wind-burned foliage. Depending on the severity of the injury, a peach tree can either bounce back from minor damage or succumb to the wind-caused harm. This is determined on an individual basis and the health of the tree before the damage occurred.

Control: Manual

  • Adequately tamp soil around the tree’s roots (and thoroughly water) at planting time to remove air pockets and ensure good contact with the soil. Air pockets and loose soil around the roots can cause the tree to rock easily, leaving it vulnerable to leaning or uprooting.
  • Use tree stakes for new trees, dwarf trees, and trees planted in high-wind areas to help support upright growth and avoid leaning, uprooting, and breaking.
  • Selectively thin fruit that may be weighing down limbs to reduce stress from the weight, and avoid tears or breaks during gusty weather. Be aware: pests and disease may also take advantage of resulting broken or torn areas if damage occurs.

If tender new foliage is blown or whipped around by the wind, it may appear discolored (dark — like a burn or bruise). Damaged leaves can be removed to encourage healthy, new growth.

Pruning

Pruning is a very important part of proper peach tree care and maintenance; however, many people think the task overwhelming or too complicated. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:

  • Have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way — including the experts.
  • There are three main reasons you should prune your peach tree: its survival, stimulation, and shaping. In the best interest of your tree, it is preferable to do some pruning versus no pruning.
  • If a peach tree is left unpruned, it may not become fruitful, it will not grow as well, and — in some cases — it may not be encouraged to grow at all.

Survival

When your peach tree is dug up from our fields to be shipped to you (and any time a tree is transplanted) the root ball loses many of its fine feeder roots. These hairlike, delicate roots are important to the process of absorbing moisture and nutrients in the soil. Pruning, in this instance, helps balance the top growth of your tree with the root system, giving the roots time to re-establish in your yard to support existing top growth and new growth.

When your bare-root peach tree arrives from Stark Bro’s, our professionals have already pre-pruned your tree for you. Because of this, you do not need to prune them again at planting time. The only pruning necessary at planting time would be to remove any broken or damaged branches and roots.

Plan to prune your peach trees every year during their dormant season. In Zone 6 and north, you should wait until late winter. A good reference book (we recommend Pruning Made Easy), is invaluable for providing additional visuals and in-depth answers to questions you may have about pruning.

Stimulation

In addition to the survival benefits, pruning a peach tree stimulates stronger, more vigorous growth from the remaining buds. After a single growing season, a peach tree you prune will be bigger, and have stronger branching than a similar unpruned tree.

Shape and Structure

Equally as important to the benefits above, your peach tree needs to be pruned to provide a strongly structured shape. The natural shape a peach tree takes on is not always the best for its maximum fruit production. Stark Bro’s peach trees are pruned in the nursery row for proper shaping to get you started, but corrective pruning must continue at home. Annual pruning is more critical for peaches (and nectarines) than for any other fruit tree type.

Always prune peach trees to an “Open Center” shape. An open-center structure keeps the tree’s canopy open to light, which is necessary for the development of good fruit and helps prevent brown rot, a notorious enemy of peach trees.

Pruning Tips

  • First dormant season (a year after you plant the tree): Remove the central leader and direct the tree growth toward three or four strong scaffolds. Choose branches that are evenly distributed around the trunk. Maintain about 6 inches of height between the scaffold branches, keeping the lowest branch at least 18 inches from the ground. Leave some small branches on the lower trunk to encourage trunk strength. Prune back scaffold branches to one-third of their length.
  • Second dormant season: Prune away fast-growing new shoots but leave twig growth, which will be the fruit-bearing wood (on most peach trees). Choose and encourage additional scaffolds, if needed.
  • Third dormant season: Prune off any broken limbs or crossing branches, but don’t do any more major pruning until the tree has produced a good-sized crop.
  • Mature-tree pruning: Once the basic shape of your peach tree has been established, make your pruning decisions in line with which branches are bearing fruit. Most trees produce fruit on the previous year’s long stems and on short branches (spurs), each of which will bear fruit for several years. Each year, cut out a portion of the older fruiting wood to keep rejuvenating the tree. Prune back each of last year’s stems to half its length.

Pruning angles

Narrow, V-shape crotch angles in the limbs are an open invitation to disastrous splitting later on, particularly when your peach tree is supporting a large fruit crop. For your tree’s branches, choose wide 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock angles.

Pruning to a bud

Make sharp, clean cuts close enough (about ¼-inch away from the next outward-pointing bud) so you won’t leave a clumsy stub that’s hard to heal over. Stay far enough above the bud so it won’t die back. Slant the cuts and the new growth will develop beautifully.

Every branch has buds pointed in various directions. Because you want vigorous new growth to spread out and away from the center of the tree, make your cut above a bud that’s aimed outward. These are usually located on the underside of the branch. This helps your peach tree take on a more spreading shape, keeping it open to light and air circulation.

Pruning Whips (Unbranched Trees)

Unbranched peach trees are ideal if you want more control over which branches are allowed to develop — as you might in certain artful pruning styles like espalier. Prune whips back to 28- to 36-inches above the ground at planting time. After the new branches have grown 3- to 5-inches in length, select a shoot to become the leader and the rest become the tree’s scaffold limbs.

Off-season Pruning

Sometimes pruning needs to be done even when the season isn’t ideal. If a branch is broken by the wind or by a heavy load of fruit, emergency treatment is necessary. When taking action due to injury, prune to clean up any ragged edges; making a flush cut that leaves no stub.

It does not benefit the peach tree to wait until dormancy to prune damaged, dead, or diseased limbs or to remove unwanted growth like suckers and watersprouts. These should all be completely removed as soon as you see them.

Fruit-Thinning

There are several good reasons to thin fruit:

  • To reduce limb breakage
  • Increase the size of the remaining fruit
  • Improve fruit color and quality
  • Stimulate floral initiation for next year’s crop

Home gardeners can effectively thin peach trees by hand. During May and June (in most areas, many peach trees will start to drop or abort underripe fruit. This is a natural process that allows the tree to mature the remaining crop load. If not corrected through thinning, peach trees may bear biennially (fruits only every other year) or bear heavily one year, then bear a comparatively light crop the next year. Thinning may seem counterproductive in theory, but it really is a benefit to your peach harvest in the long run.

The best time to thin peach trees is within 20 to 40 days of full bloom. Thin so that each remaining peach is spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on the branch. In clusters, leave the king bloom (the center bloom in the cluster of five flowers) as it will develop into the largest fruit. On spur-type peach varieties, many fruit spurs grow along a branch and will need to be thinned out to encourage bigger and better fruit on what remains. All of these tasks promote the improved bearing and fruit quality of your peach tree — you’ll be pleased with the results!

Spraying

First and foremost, be sure to familiarize yourself with the existing or potential pest and diseases issues for peach trees in your area. Your local county Cooperative Extension is an excellent resource. Documents for identification and control, assembled by your local state universities, may even already exist online. Your local independent garden centers and local growers are also invaluable sources of pest and disease control in your area.

In high-density orchards, a proper and consistent spray schedule can be paramount to the survival of your peach tree. Many potential issues can be prevented with sprays before they become problematic. To get the most return on the investment of your money, time and energy, spraying peach trees should be done consistently and thoroughly, following the guidelines below.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on the labels of the products. Do not combine any chemicals unless the labels on each chemical spray involved specifically state that you can safely do so.

A well-rounded home spray program for peach trees includes dormant-season as well as growing-season sprays for pests and diseases. Research your location and learn about any pests or diseases that frequently occur where you live. If you know peach tree diseases are common in your area, planting easy-care, disease-resistant peach trees may give you an advantage.

Note: Contact your local county Cooperative Extension for alternative suggestions and advice on cultural and chemical control methods if certain sprays offered by Stark Bro’s are not recommended for use in your area.

When to Spray Peach Trees

  • Dormant Season (late winter/early spring, before bud break)
  • Growing Season: Bud Break (emergence of new growth)
  • Growing Season: After Blossom (after petals drop*)

*gives bees and other beneficials a chance to safely pollinate the blossoms

It bears repeating: Always follow instructions printed on the label for more detailed information about timing and application methods.

Pest Control Sprays:

Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil

  • For: Overwintering eggs, larvae, and pests including European red spider mites, adelgids, scale insects, apple aphids, bud moth, leafrollers, light brown apple moth, red bug, codling moth larvae, psylla, blister mites, galls, whitefly larvae, and mealybugs.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when temperatures are between 40ºF and 90ºF.

Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust

  • For: Codling moth, leafminers, leafrollers, oriental fruit moth, tufted apple budmoth
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 10 days, up to 6 times per season (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 7 days before harvest.

Bonide® Insecticidal Soap

  • For: Adelgids (woolly aphids), aphids, lacebugs, mealybugs, mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, scale insects, plant bugs, sawfly larvae (pear and rose slugs), psyllids, tent caterpillars, thrips, spider mites, earwigs, and whitefly.
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, weekly or bi-weekly as needed.

Bonide® Thuricide® BT

  • For: Redbanded leafroller, tufted apple budmoth, variegated leafroller, tent caterpillar, fruit tree leafroller, gypsy moth
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break or After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when eggs or newly hatched larvae first appear.

GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

  • For: Apple aphid, apple maggot, apple mealybug, apple pandemic, apple rust mite, apple sucker, avocado leafroller, bagworms, black cherry aphid, black scale, leafrollers, lecanium scales, lesser appleworm, lesser peachtree borer, meadow spittlebug, omnivorous leaftier, strawberry fruitworm, orange tortrix
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. To avoid fruit drop, apply 30 days after full bloom. Apply as directed, every 7 days, up to 8 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 3 days before harvest.

Disease Control Sprays

Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental (wettable powder)

  • For: Primary scab, black rot (frogeye), botrytis blossom-end rot, Brooks fruit spot, sooty blotch, fly speck, black rot, black pox, botryosphaeria rot, bitter rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (pre-bloom, bloom, petal fall), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not use in conjunction with wettable sulfur, hydrated lime, or oil sprays. Apply as directed, every 10- to 14-days as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest. Not for use in California (contact local county Cooperative Extension for recommended alternatives).

Bonide® Copper Fungicide

  • For: Fireblight, anthracnose, bitter rot, black pox, black rot, Brooks spot, flyspeck, powdery mildew, sooty blotch, summer scab, white rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (may include bloom period), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, making sure to adhere to specified intervals to avoid phytotoxicity and other issues in apple trees.

Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

  • For: Botrytis (leaf blight, blast, vine rot), purple blotch, neck rot, downy mildew (suppression), early/late blight, leafspots and foliar blights (including: anthracnose, black spot, botrytis, shothole, fusarium leafspot, twig blight, brown rot, scab, stagonospora leaf scorch, etc.), flower spots and blights (including: botrytis flower spot, flower blight, etc.), stem canker, stem end rot, phytophthora (leaf blight, dieback), powdery mildew, rust (cedar apple rust, cedar hawthorn rust, cedar quince rust, etc.), mummy berry, eastern filbert blight, leaf curl, shothole (coryneum blight), lacy scab (russet) – and more
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (avoid use during bloom period to prevent injury), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed (interval varies) as needed. Avoid spraying plants during extremely hot and sunny weather. Do not apply within one week before or after application of an oil/oil-based pesticide.

Combination Sprays for Pests & Diseases

Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

  • Pests: Ants (excluding fire ants, harvester ants, pharaoh ants, and carpenter ants), aphids, apple maggot, beetles, mites, moths, spider mites, leafhoppers, leafrollers, leafminers, caterpillars, whiteflies, spittlebugs, mealybugs, scale, thrips, psyllids, plant bugs, fruit flies, earwigs
  • Diseases: Scab, powdery mildew, rust, blight, brown rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 90ºF. Do not use within 21 days of an oil spray. Apply as directed, every 7- to 10-days, or after rain as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest.

Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

  • Pests: Apple maggots, codling moths, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, plum curculios, aphids, bud moth, Forbes scale, eastern tent caterpillar, red-banded leafroller, mites
  • Diseases: Bitter rot, black rot, frogeye leaf spot, Botryosphaeria (white rot), botrytis rot, bullseye rot, Brooks fruit spot, flyspeck, cedar rust, quince rust, scab, sooty blotch
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 85ºF. Apply as directed, no more than once within 7 days, up to 2 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 14 days before harvest.

Bonide® Neem Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, scab and flower, twig and tip blight, and alternaria.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative, also active. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs, and pests on contact. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Oil-based, so apply in early morning/late evening to minimize the potential for leaf burn. Apply as directed, every 7- to 14-days as needed.

Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, loopers, mealybugs, leafhoppers, leafminers, thrips, borers, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, hornworm, earwig, chiggers, worms, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, brown spot, dollar spot, snow mold, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, blight (flower blight, twig blight, and tip blight), scab.
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom (for early disease prevention), Growing Season – After Blossom (for pest and disease control on contact).
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 7 to 14 days, as needed. Do not use more than 1 time per day on the same plants. Do not use more than 10 times per season. Do not apply when temperatures are below 45ºF. Do not apply to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Apply in early morning or late evening to minimize potential for leaf burn. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

Monterey Horticultural Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, sawflies, loopers, leafhoppers, leafminers, leafrollers, psylla, mealybugs, thrips, worms, and more.
  • Diseases: Black spot, powdery mildew, rust, sooty mold
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom, Growing Season – After Blossom, Dormant Season
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, as needed. Do not apply when temperatures are below 32ºF (no heat restriction for use – unique for an oil spray). Do not apply during drought or to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

Watering

Unless your peach trees are growing in an area where irrigation is usually needed for growth (desert areas, drought-prone areas, containers, etc.), you probably won’t need to water your peach trees more than what the rain naturally provides after the first growing year. Until then, follow these guidelines to get your new peach trees off to a great start.

General Watering Guidelines

  • If the growing season brings about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, you shouldn’t need to provide any additional water; however, if it gets really dry in a week’s time, you can give your young peach tree a good, thorough soaking. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly around the root zone. This gives the water a chance to soak in and down to the roots instead of running off over the soil surface. You can also use a soaker hose to water several trees at once. Give your peach tree enough water to soak the ground all around the roots.
  • It’s important to note that, even if you’re in the midst of a “brown-lawn drought”, you shouldn’t water too much. Worse than dry, thirsty roots are waterlogged, drowning roots.
  • Although a little depression in the soil helps by preventing runoff during growing-season watering, it’s important to bring the soil around the tree up to the level of the surrounding soil for the winter. If this settled soil is not filled in, water could freeze around the trunk and injure the tree.

Note: These guidelines are far from strict, so just be sure to water as needed. Peach trees do not need lots of water every day; however, if you discover that your soil or your location’s environment require more frequent watering to avoid drought-stress to your peach trees, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Pay attention to your peach trees and the soil they’re planted in as the best reference for when they need water. If you’re not sure, use a moisture meter to indicate when your tree needs water.

Keep in mind: many parts of the country have restrictions on water usage. Be sure to adhere to your county or state’s restrictions when watering new peach trees. Contact your local department in charge of water usage for more information.

Other Topics

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy your delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to literally enjoy the “fruits of your labor.” The main things to remember when harvest time rolls around are to pick the fruit at the right time, and properly store/preserve your harvest.

When will I have a peach crop?

Peach trees will start bearing fruit in 2-4 years, under normal growing conditions with proper maintenance and care.

Harvest season for peach trees: Late June through August, depending on the variety and growing location.

Annual average yield per peach tree:

  • Miniature: 1/4 to 1 bushel
  • Dwarf: 1 to 3 bushels
  • Standard: 3 to 6 bushels

Once fruit appears on your peach tree — though you might be tempted — it’s better to wait until just the right time to pick them. Peaches will not further ripen once picked.

Peaches are ripe when:

  • There are no more traces of green and their characteristic color is fully developed.
  • When gently squeezed, a ripe peach “gives” a little. A hard peach is not ripe.
  • A ripe peach smells sweet, and smells just like a peach. If you can’t smell it, it’s not ready.
  • If you’re not sure, pick one and taste a slice. If it’s crunchy and lacks that sweetness and peach taste, wait a few days before harvesting the rest.
How to pick a peach

Grasp a ripe peach gently in the palm of your hand to cradle it so it doesn’t bruise. Twist the peach gently while pulling it away from the branch. A ripe peach breaks free from the tree easily. If the peach doesn’t pop off the tree with a gentle tug, let it continue growing. Handle the fruit carefully to avoid bruising that could develop into spoilage.

Storing Peaches
  • It’s best to leave fresh peaches out of refrigeration (much like tomatoes), but they will keep a few days longer in the refrigerator. Otherwise, you’ll want to either freeze or can your peach harvest so not one luscious peach goes to waste!

Tip: To keep fresh sliced fresh peaches from darkening, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid to a bowl of water and submerge the fruit for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Peach Preserving Tips

You can freeze or can your peach harvest to enjoy during the bleak winter months. We have all the canning and preserving equipment you need to successfully “put up” your peach harvest.

To freeze:

First, determine the number of zippered plastic bags or containers you will need:

  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds of peaches = 1 quart
  • 1 bushel of peaches = about 12 quarts

Peaches should be ripe and slightly soft, but not overly ripe. Wash peaches thoroughly in very cold water.

  • Peel and slice your peaches a few at a time. To peel a peach, dip it into boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge it into cold water. The skin should slide off easily.
  • For each quart of peaches, mix ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid* with 1 tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle over your sliced peaches. Very gently toss with your hands. Pack in airtight bags or containers until 3/4 full. Label the container with the date, then freeze. Keeps 10-12 months.

*available at grocery/drug stores; does not affect the taste of the fruit

To can:

You can also can your peach harvest. There are countless recipes out there, including ones that have been passed down through generations. This includes -preserve sliced or whole peaches, or spiced peaches, jam, jelly, syrup— even peach wine! Find our Homemade Peach Jam recipe here.