- Author: Sharon L. Rico
We have two peach trees (Prunus persica) in our backyard. The old tree, original to the property, is a delicious cling (the flesh adheres to the pit). We are not sure what type of peach it is, but it is still producing fruit. Since the harvest is usually small, we eat these as fast as they ripen. Well, okay, we do share a few of them with family and neighbors. The newer tree is a ‘Red Haven’, which is a freestone (the flesh separates from the pit). Last year my husband grafted an ‘Elberta’ peach onto a branch of this tree and it has fruit for the first time. The newer tree is 13 years old and was one of the first fruit trees we planted in 1999. We have always had a bumper crop of fruit on this tree and our friends, family and neighbors know when it is ‘peach picking time’ at our house. The peaches are firm, sweet and delicious, and ripen early in the season. In years past, we have made peach pies, peach jam, peach syrup ice cream topping, peaches and cream dessert bars, (you get the picture). To get these wonderful peaches, both trees are pruned and fertilized once a year, sprayed twice a year with dormant spray and thinned heavily each year. Most peach trees require 600 to 900 hours of winter chill. Annual pruning renews fruiting wood and encourages fruiting throughout the tree rather than at the ends of weak branches that would break. My husband is very particular about thinning. His goal is to have large, beautiful fruit. It is not unusual for him to fill his wheelbarrow half way full of one inch wide peaches when he is thinning. His motto is to thin 8 to 10 inches apart and he sticks to this method. This dedication pays off with magnificent peaches.