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Monday, November 5, 2012

Pruned Newly Planted Peach and Got Only One New Shoot

Dear Bob
I purchased this nectarine at the orchard in either Jan/Feb of this year.  Since I planted it on a slope, I cut the trunk to 30" versus the 24" recommended by the gardener.  Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture, it only put out one scaffold branch?

I know you get hundreds of pruning questions, I read all of them on your blog, but I was wondering if, since it is still a young tree, if I should lower it another 6" in the hope that it will put out  more than one scaffold branch.  Or, if I should just live with the existing scaffold and hope that others will develop?

Any suggestions you could offer would be greatly appreciated.



That also happened to me on a peach once. These things do happen. When we make these dramatic cuts we sometimes don’t get pretty results. Peaches and nectarines both sometimes, depending on the variety and the size of the trunk, may respond by making one new shoot or several.

However, the larger the trunk on peach or nectarine we cut the more chances we will have of getting fewer new shoots. Smaller trunks will give you more shoot development… typically. There are three things you could do. This might depend on what you want the tree to look like. For production purposes you are fine where you are…. A bit higher than I would have liked to see but you will get fruit. But it does look a bit odd when it is young. This will disappear over time and you can enjoy the fruit soon.

You can recut the trunk (gulp). This is risky but what the heck. You will learn something one way or another. It might again send up one shoot. It might send up more than one shoot. It might not send up any new shoots. I can’t tell you what is going to happen but if I truly did not like the look of it I would recut the trunk and take a chance. If I don’t care about the looks so much then I would let it go.

Next time, pick a younger tree with smaller diameter trunk and cut it at knee height to start your scaffold branches. In one season you will not have any difference in size between the two.


  1. DWN recommends cutting below 3 feet ONLY if caliper of the trunk is 3/4" or less. [documented by Craig the Admin on DWN forums...unfortunately I cannot spot the link, but it did infuriate a few of us when it was so stated. I definitely lost a couple of trees because of it.] You risk there not being any terminal buds that will produce a branch.

    In your case however, I think that peach will turn out OK with that single branch becoming the main trunk and it putting on branching from it next year.

  2. Actually new growth can come from several sources; terminal if there are any, lateral and even from undifferentiated tissue that lies deep inside the trunk. Callus tissue is an example of undifferentiated tissue. These are plant cells that have not yet decided what they want to become and so have not made a "commitment". I know some people like that. When cuts are made, the tissue close to the damage reacts by dividing rapidly, then "differentiating" into plant cells with a purpose... cambium, phloem, xylem, fibers, etc. This probably has selectively evolved due to some reason the plant has to recover from extensive damage such as animal browsing, fire, etc. Some of the peach and nectarine varieties have little to none undifferentiated tissue. While others like almond have a bunch. I have cut back 15 year old almonds two feet off the ground with trunk diameters of 12 plus inches and they suckered very nicely and I was able to re-establish a totally new tree, 8+ feet tall, producing nuts in one season. I will post pictures of it soon.