have been grown in Asia for more than two thousand years, and
produced for centuries in the United States. Peaches are considered
the "Queen" of the fruits and are second only to apples in
popularity as a deciduous tree fruit because of their fine
flavor and many
can be used in the same way as peaches, and may be considered as
substitutes for peaches. The only difference between peaches and
nectarines is the lack of fuzz on the nectarine skin. Nectarines
tend to be smaller and more aromatic than peaches and have more
red color on the fruit surface.
peaches provide respectable amounts of the antioxidant vitamins
A and C in addition to potassium and fiber. Nectarines provide twice
the vitamin A, slightly more vitamin C, and much more potassium
are hundreds of different peach cultivars (varieties), which can
be divided into two categories--the freestones and the clingstones.
In freestone types, the flesh separates readily from the pit. In
the clingstone type, the flesh clings tightly to the pit. The flesh
may be either yellow or white. Freestone types are usually preferred
for eating fresh or for freezing, while clingstone types are used
primarily for canning. Nectarines may be either yellow or white-fleshed.
High quality peaches and nectarines are firm and free from defects
such as bruising and insect or disease damage. The best ripe peaches
and nectarines have a deep yellow or creamy white color, although
color varies according to cultivar. Green color indicates immaturity.
Peaches and nectarines harvested when too green may shrivel or fail
to develop a desirable flavor upon ripening. The red blush makes
the fruit attractive but may not be helpful in determining fruit
and nectarines that cannot be consumed or processed immediately
should be stored in an area with temperatures of 32 degrees F and
high-humidity (a home refrigerator may work well). It is best to
use or process the fruit as quickly as possible since it is highly
perishable under high temperatures and not well suited to prolonged
cold storage (more than 14 days).
trees are subject to some serious insect pests and diseases. A season's
crop may frequently be lost either by flower bud kill due to low
winter temperatures or to bloom kill by late-spring frosts. The
best chances for success in growing peaches in the home landscape
result from selecting bud-hardy cultivars, protecting the bloom
from late-spring frosts and managing insects and diseases.
and nectarine cultivars do not require cross pollination and set
satisfactory crops with their own pollen. A single peach or nectarine
tree can, therefore, be expected to bear crops in the home landscape
if flower buds or flowers are not killed by low temperatures.
Peaches or nectarines require full sunlight and should not receive
shade from buildings or tall trees. If possible, select a site with
a high elevation so that cold air can drain away from the tree on
a cold night during bloom. The best site will have well drained,
sandy, loam type soil. Peach or nectarine tree roots or rootstocks
will not tolerate soils where water remains on or near the surface
for more than one hour after a heavy rain.
the soil one to two years before planting so that soil pH, organic
matter, and nutrient status can be modified for the production of
high quality peaches and/or nectarines. Prepare a bed at least 5
to 6 feet in diameter by cultivating (spading) 10 to 12 inches deep
and adding organic matter such as manure, leaves, grass clippings
and compost. Have your soil tested and apply lime and fertilizer
as recommended (See GreenShare Factsheet on soil
testing). For best results, sample soils 6 to 8 inches deep
every two to three years.
your tree in the spring in the center of your prepared area. Keep
the bud union 1 inch above the soil. Planting a peach or nectarine
tree too deep in the soil can cause poor growth or death.
open center system is recommended for peach and nectarine trees
for maximum sunlight exposure, maximum yield and best quality. Pruning
and training should be done in the year of planting and every year
after to develop a strong, well balanced framework of scaffolds
(a tree with a strong trunk and well positioned side branches),
as well as to maintain the balance between vegetative growth and
after planting, prune the tree back to a height of 26 to 30 inches.
Cut off all side branches to leave a whip (a shoot without lateral
branches or with lateral branches removed) that is 26 to 30 inches
tall. Although this may sound drastic, the best shaped open center
trees come from those pruned initially to a whip.
the first year, remove diseased, broken and low-hanging limbs. Remove
vigorous upright shoots that may have developed on the inside of
the main scaffolds, which, if left, could shade the center.
the second and third years, remove low-hanging, broken and/or diseased
limbs. To maintain the open vase, remove any vigorous upright shoots
developing on the inside of the tree, leaving the smaller shoots
for fruit production. Finally, prune the vigorous upright limbs
on the scaffolds by cutting them back to an outward growing shoot.
principles used to develop the trees are used to annually maintain
the size and shape of the mature tree. Remove low-hanging, broken
and dead limbs first, then remove the vigorous upright shoots along
the scaffolds. Lower the tree to the desired height by pruning the
scaffolds to an outward growing shoot at the desired height.
years without frost and freeze damage, more peaches will set than
the tree can support, and the fruit must be thinned. Approximately
three to four weeks after bloom, or when the largest fruit are as
large as a quarter, fruits should be removed by hand so that the
remaining peaches are spaced about every 8 inches. Fruit thinning
will allow the remaining fruits to develop optimum size, shape and
color, as well as prevent depletion of the tree.
Apply 1/2 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer or its equivalent 7 to 10
days after planting and the same amount again 40 days after planting.
Broadcast the fertilizer evenly 8 to 12 inches away from the trunk.
In the second and third years after planting, the tree should receive
3/4 pound of 10-10-10 in March and again in May. Mature peach trees
(4 to 10 years of age) should receive 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10
fertilizer each in March and May. If the tree is vigorous and there
are no fruit expected, only the March application is necessary.
Broadcast the fertilizer around the outer edge of the tree keeping
the trunk area free of fertilizer.
Peach trees need 18 inches of new growth each year. Remove the sod
from under the tree, mulch and/or irrigate as needed. Irrigation
will increase yield particularly if it is applied three weeks before
is very difficult to grow peaches or nectarines in the home garden
without an effective pest control program. Common insects and mites
affecting peaches and nectarines include tarnished
plant bug, stink bug, oriental fruit moth, plum
curculio, peach tree borers,
Japanese beetle, green June beetle and European
peach and nectarine diseases are peach
leaf curl, brown rot, scab,
bacterial spot and powdery
mildew. Refer to GreenShare Factsheets on these specific pests
and diseases for more information and control recommendations.
from Gary Gao, Ohio State University Extension, 2000