Q. I had a old peach tree of about 30 years die, sadly. We cut it down and had it removed. Last year several suckers sprouted from below the ground. Different leaves so I know it is not peach. What are they? Should I leave them alone and allow them to grow?
|Sucker growth from the rootstock of ornamental plum. Notice the different color of leaves from the rootstock versus the top of the tree which is red|
A. 30 year old peach tree is quite an accomplishment! They are normally very short-lived as far as fruit trees go. Peach is hit very hard by borers and starts to decline around 12 years of age or a bit older. A 20 year old tree is really getting up there in age.
When you purchase a peach tree from a nursery or commercially they are grafted (budded) onto a rootstock or a second tree that is growing in the ground. This is because the rootstock part of the tree has certain attributes that the peach tree does not. This can be some tolerance of wet soils, soils containing a higher amount of clay than normal, some resistance to soil salts, diseases and nematodes.
As far as peach goes, some even cause the top of the tree to be slightly smaller than it would if it grew on its own roots. There are a number of different rootstocks available for these purposes.
This may be a “plum” rootstock that you are seeing. It will produce fruit that you will probably not enjoy. Remove it and plant a peach variety that appeals to you.