Around the Clock Care: Peach Tree Management a Year-Round Process

Clint Thompson Alabama, Peaches, Top Posts

Peach tree orchard in the spring.

By Clint Thompson

Peach tree management is a year-round process for Alabama producers. How growers take care of their trees after harvest and during the dormant season will impact production next year. That’s the message David Lawrence, Alabama Regional Extension Agent in central Alabama, hopes to convey to producers.

“Peach production is hard in June, July and into August. The season finally gets over and you just want to sit back and not look at them for a while. You really can’t do that,” Lawrence said. “Soon after harvest we start doing peach borer sprays and doing our post-harvest fertilizing. That all takes place around August. Typically, we’re pretty dry August, September and October. This year that’s not the case. It’s been raining every few days. Typically, we’re trying to reduce the stress on those trees, maybe doing some supplemental watering.

“We’ll start doing some dormant oil applications end of December when we start really getting some leaves knocked off the trees as we get into full dormancy.”

Dormant Oil Applications

Lawrence implores growers to apply dormant oil applications in late December or early January and then a few weeks later. It is largely dependent on the weather. Growers need to spray when temperatures and wind are right with no rain.

Which leads right into springtime management.

“Borer sprays, fertilizing, making sure they don’t get into a drought situation and weed control is most important in the springtime as we go into the summer,” Lawrence said. “Knocking those perennial grasses back is going to benefit you next year. This is all for next year. It’s hard to think about next year when you just got through with this year, but that’s what we’re doing it for. It’s not like a tomato crop where we harvest it and can forget it about for six months. We’ve got to be staying on it.”

Alabama peach farmers are also starting to keep an eye on chilling hours. Peaches need chill hours to mature. The required chill hours depend on the peach variety, but most growers hope to get around 1,000 chill hours before spring. Cooler temperatures last week provided a good start for growers in early November.

“Right now, we’re starting to collect some chill hours. Here in central Alabama, we’ve been down in the mid-40s and flirting with collecting some chill hours. We were in the 30s this weekend,” Lawrence said.