Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 4, 1995
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Peach trees develop excessive shoot growth which reduces fruit bud initiation and fruit color development. The size of apple trees can be controlled by the grafted rootstock, however, no size-reducing rootstocks for peach are available. We root pruned peaches over a seven-year period to determine if this practice could control the size without reducing yield. We found that peach trees adapted to the root pruning by extracting water from deeper depths, consequently, root pruning did not reduce shoot growth. Other cultural practices will need development to control peach tree size.
Technical Abstract: The objectives of this seven-year study were to determine the effect of repeated root pruning and irrigation on peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) tree growth and soil water use. Root pruning began in the year of planting and was annually repeated to restrict the lateral spread of the root system. Peach trees trained to a free-standing 'Y' were root pruned at flowering from 1985-1988 and then at flowering and monthly through July from 1989-91. Irrigation treatments of none, full season, and during stage 111 of fruit growth were imposed on the root pruned and non-root pruned treatments in a split plot design. Root pruning limited soil water availability throughout most of the growing season when irrigation was withheld; however, when irrigation was applied there was no difference in soil water availability. Repeated root pruning could restrict the lateral spread of the root zone and the utilization of the soil resources, yet, on the deep soil of this site, restricting the lateral extent of the root zone did not reduce vegetative tree growth.