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Monday, March 24, 2014

No Flowers on Peach Tree Could be Due to Overzealous Winter Pruning

Q. Of my 5 peach trees only two blossomed thus far, the other 3 have started or well on their way to leaf out.  I presume I'll not get peaches from them this year.  Any idea why they would leaf out and not blossom?
A. My guess is that you may have over pruned your peach tree. If you prune off all of last years growth, you eliminated your flowers and fruit. On three of your trees you removed this growth. On two you did not. Those two are flowering. The other three cannot flower because the flowering wood was pruned off.
You did not tell me how old the trees were. I assume they are fairly young. Peaches flower laterally along last years growth. This growth is typicially reddish brown.
Peaches flower laterally (along the sides) of last years growth. Last years growth is usually much brighter red than wood which is older. My hand shows you both types of growth. The reddish growth above my middle finger is last years wood. You can also see this growth starting just under my thumb and also below the bottom of my hand. Look at the buds along this wood. Along the length of this reddish growth you see multiple buds in the same spot. These are called collateral buds. In peach, pointed lateral buds are usually leaf buds. Fatter, rounder lateral buds are usually flower buds.
Typically peach trees blossom before there is much leaf growth. If blossoms never appeared and these trees are not young trees then the wood supporting the flowers were either pruned out this winter or the flower buds suffered from cold damage and died.
             Peach trees can flower at a fairly young age so I would think you would see at least a few flowers if they were very young and no pruned out.
            If they flower but do not set fruit this can be due to a late freeze. Most peaches are self-fertile and do not require a pollinator.

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