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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Peach Tree Production and Culture As Affected by Growth Habit, Tree Spacing, and Pruning

Authors
item Miller, Stephen
item Scorza, Ralph

Submitted to: Annual Cumberland Shenandoah Fruit Workers Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 25, 2004
Publication Date: October 1, 2004
Citation: Miller, S.S., Scorza, R. 2004. Peach tree production and culture as affected by growth habit, tree spacing, and pruning. Annual Cumberland Shenandoah Fruit Workers Conference. Vol 79, 11 pages.

Interpretive Summary: Traditional standard (S) growth habit peach trees on seedling rootstocks produce low yields per unit of land. New peach tree growth habits pillar (P) and upright (U) offer the potential of higher density peach plantings with significant increase in yields. An experimental orchard with replicated blocks was established using four in-row tree spacings, three peach growth habits (P, U, and S), and two training systems (central and multiple leader) with and without summer pruning to evaluate performance. Cumulative yields in the fifth leaf were greater for U and S trees than P trees. Yields per tree increased as in-row spacing increased. Summer pruning reduced by 50% the time required to dormant prune trees. Observations and data through the first 5 growing seasons demonstrate the benefits of high-density peach plantings with P and U habit trees compared to traditional S trees in low-density plantings. This information will be of use to growers and fruit extension personnel.

Technical Abstract: Peach production in the U.S. relies on standard size trees on vigorous, seedling rootstocks grown at low-densities (297 trees/ha). Production per hectare is low. Peach tree growth habits, such as pillar (P) and upright (U), can be planted in high-density systems with the potential for increased production per hectare. Advanced breeding selections of P and U, and standard (S) ('Harrow Beauty') trees on 'Lovell' rootstock were planted at 4 densities (135 trees/ha to 1112 trees/ha) and trained to a central leader (CL) or multiple leader (ML) form. One-half of the trees were summer pruned (SP) annually beginning in the third leaf. This paper reports on tree performance for the third through the fifth leaf in the orchard. Tree size and canopy spread were affected by growth habit and in-row spacing, but training system had little or no effect on these parameters. SP trees were smaller than non-SP trees. S and U trees required more time to dormant prune than P trees and summer pruning reduced dormant pruning time by about 50 percent. However, total pruning time per tree was increased about 115 % by summer pruning. Yields in the fourth and fifth leaf and cumulative yields (2nd thru 5th leaf) per tree were greater for U and S trees than P trees, but potential yields per ha based on 5th leaf per tree yields and proposed in-row tree spacing were highest for U trees. Training system had little or no effect on yields per tree in the first four bearing seasons; SP generally reduced yields per tree, but only slightly. Peaches harvested from U trees were significantly larger than fruit from P or S trees. This study demonstrates significant potential for high-density peach production and increased yields per ha with P and UP growth habit peach trees.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014