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Monday, August 31, 2015

Don't Bet on Good Fruit from Rootstock Suckers

Q. I had an old peach tree of about 30 years die. We cut it down and had it removed. Last year several suckers sprouted from below the ground. They have different leaves so I know it is not peach. What are they? Should I leave them alone and allow them to grow?

A. Having a 30 year old peach tree is quite an accomplishment! They are normally a short-lived tree as far as fruit trees go. Peach is hit very hard by borers and may start to decline around 12 to 15 years of age. A 20 year old tree is really getting up there in age.
Rootstock on apricot
            When you purchase a peach tree from a nursery it is grafted (budded) onto a different tree called the rootstock. Basically, there are two different trees joined together; one is grown for its fruit and the other is grown for its roots.

            Frequently, the tree selected for its roots does not produce particularly good fruit. That is not the reason it was selected. It was selected because its roots had some particular quality that was desirable for the entire tree.
            Remove these suckers from the base of the tree. They will grow but the fruit produced will be low quality compared to the peaches that you enjoyed for so many years.


1 comment:

  1. Or leave up to three suckers growing and try grafting onto them in late winter with a scion of a desirable peach cultivar. The rootstock is already a proven winner in your yard with plenty of root system already established. If more than one graft takes, remove all but one the following year. Let the remaining graft grow into a new peach tree...which will be fast because of the established root system.

    As to the identity of the rootstock, if it is not peach it could be a plum seedling, or peach x almond hybrid or any other manner of _Prunus_ species multiple hybridizations.