Don't count your peaches until they ... oops ... June 28 2014 - Posted by Jim
A tidbit of history
So last week I'm walking though our little orchard, admiring our massively mature (3 year old) "trees" when I stumble upon one of our wonderful peach trees with one of it's main vertical branches chalked full of fruit snapped in half! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Now this event is clearly not as traumatic as seeing your young child injure themselves or even witnessing your barnyard fowl meeting an untimely demise but come on after 3 years these things are finally ready to bear fruit and now this?
Well I quickly flailed into action: grabbed my grafting supplies, propped up the branch, thinned out some fruit and performed a somewhat hastily repair. Fortunately my father in law Tim was right there ready for action. I didn't think to take pictures until after we were done but after patching up the break and securing the rest with rope the final result looked pretty darn good:
... but then
Nearly a week later I'm once again walking though the orchard -- this time with my son picking and devouring the plums that are nearly ready (I can't help myself) when I come across a sadly familiar scene:
I was devastated. Even though we thinned a bit of weight from this tree last week the recent fruit growth was more than the juvenile peach could handle. I stood there sort of stunned thinking "Do I just cut everything off?", "Do I just go inside and have a beer and pretend everything is OK?". I decided it was probably worth trying to save this young soul so once again I grabbed a rebar stake, rope and grafting putty.
I lifted up one of the snapped main limbs and realized this is more than a one man job. The weight was uneven, swaying in the wind and it felt like I was doing more damage by trying a repair. I was able to prop up the same branch from last week with a sheet of plywood that was close by:
Ok thats a start. Just then Tim came home and was like "Really? Again?". We quickly went to work thinning more fruit and devising our "support rope tying strategy". Once thinned enough we were able to lift the branches enough to perform repair on the splits:
After a few more minutes and many more curse words things were looking way better
We all know young fruit trees need to be thinned out during their first few years. But.. how much? Well in my case at least this much:
Sad yes, we lost a lot of fruit. But in reality this should have been pruned off months ago. What amazes me is that I pulled off at least this many peaches from this same tree during the spring. What would happen to these trees in the wild? Would they lose every single branch if unmanaged by man? We may have bred these types of species into something that cannot survive without us, although they do supply us was some lip smacking sweet goodness so I suppose its a fair trade :)
Keep on thinning friends.