Grow Your Peaches
Posted: January 7, 2013
Let me tell you why you should grow your own peaches. Farmers can’t wait until a peach is fully ripe to pick it from the tree. A ripe peach is too soft to pack and ship to the store. So there is a significant difference between the peaches offered in the local supermarket and the peaches allowed to ripen on the tree. That is why the peaches you grow yourself or buy from a local grower taste better than what is shipped in.
Select a peach tree that has good disease resistance. Bacterial spot is a major peach disease in our area. Peach trees are self-fruitful, so you do not need two varieties for pollination. You can choose a standard size tree or a dwarf peach tree. In peaches, a dwarf tree is only about 15% smaller than a standard tree. Peach trees should be planted in late March or April. Plant in full sun. The soil may need to be limed before planting. Peaches like a soil pH around 6.5. If you are not sure where your soil pH is, get a soil test.
Once the tree is planted, you will need to prune the center out of it. You want the mature peach tree to have an open center, bowl shaped. You want to leave 3 or 4 lower branches that head in all directions. Peach trees are fast growers if they have good fertility and don’t have to compete with weeds. Keep a 4 foot weed-free circle around the tree. Annually prune out branches that grow inward.
Paint the tree trunk white with latex paint to discourage boring insects, frost, and wildlife damage. Peach trees do not need to be staked.
You will need to thin the fruit after it forms in the spring. Leave one peach every 8 inches of branch. This ensures the peaches will have good size and flavor.
Harvest the fruit when it just begins to soften. After picking, you may need to let it ripen for a day or two more to reach its peak of sweetness. A fresh, ripe peach is definitely worth the trouble, guaranteed.
For more information or a soil test kit, contact your local extension office. In Lackawanna County call 570-963 6842 or email LackawannaMG@psu.edu
John Esslinger, Extension Educator
Penn State Extension