Central Leader Pruning of Peach Trees


Table of Contents

  1. Year One (at Planting)
  2. Year Two (after first dormant period)
  3. Year Three (after second dormant period)
  4. Year Four (after third dormant period)
  5. Year Five Through Ten (after fourth dormant period)

Year One (at planting)

Pruning the newly planted nursery tree (Mid- to late May)
  • Remove all branches below 20 to 30 inches above the ground
  • Remove dead and broken branches
  • Remove narrow angled branches
  • Top the tree at 48 inches (at healthy bud to the S. W.)
  • Select several well spaced branches of uniform size and cut back to 2 buds
  • Remove weak, vigorous and competing branches with collar cuts.
Summer pruning (6 weeks to 2 months after planting)
  • Rub off shoots below the lowest branch
  • Rub off upright shoots competing with the leader
  • Remove dead stubs with collar cuts
  • Direct growth of branches by removing unwanted shoots.

Year One (at planting)

<== Southwest Wind
    Before

    Year 1 - Before

     

    After

    Year 1 - After

     

 

Year Two (after first dormant period)

Post Dormant Period (Mid-May)
  • Head back leader to a strong bud into the southwest wind
  • Remove branches competing with the leader using collar cuts.
  • It may be necessary to remove leaders displaced by the wind and encourage a southwest wind upright lateral to replace the original leader.
  • Train the developing scaffolds by removing undesirable growth using collar cuts.
  • Encourage strong growth towards the southwest wind on a lower lateral.
  • Space the lower scaffolds by removing competing branches that are improperly oriented or of poor quality.
  • Remove branches infected with Cytospora canker.
  • Remove any growth below the lowest scaffold.
Summer Pruning (July)
  • Use caution! Summer pruning reduces tree vigour and may increase the danger of winter injury.
  • Rub off shoots below the lowest scaffold.
  • Rub off branches competing with the leader.
  • Rub off upright shoots from scaffolds.
  • Direct external growth of the scaffolds laterally
  • Note: Remove all fruit from the trees.
Year Two (after first dormant period)

<== Southwest Wind
    Before

    Year 2 - Before

    After

    Year 2 - After

 

Year Three (after the second dormant period)

Post Dormant Period (Early to mid-May)
  • Trees are ready to produce their first crop.
  • Head back leader to a strong bud to the southwest wind
  • Remove branches competing with the leader using collar cuts.
  • It may be necessary to remove leaders displaced by the wind and encourage a southwest wind upright lateral to replace the original leader
  • Select fruiting laterals in upper portion of tree.
  • Select laterals with proper vigour and orientation.
  • Select 4 or more properly oriented scaffolds and remove 1 or possibly 2 competing scaffolds using collar cuts.
  • Selected scaffolds should be oriented to 4 or 5 different directions and spaced 4-6 inches apart vertically along the trunk.
  • Use training cuts to direct terminal growth of the scaffolds laterally.
  • Train the developing scaffolds by removing undesirable growth using collar cuts.
  • Use thinning-out cuts to open tree and control fruiting.
Summer Pruning (July)
  • Use caution! Summer pruning reduces tree vigour and may increase the danger of winter injury.
  • Rub off branches competing with the leader.
  • Remove upright shoots from scaffolds.
  • Direct external growth of the scaffolds laterally.

Year Three (after second dormant period)
<== Southwest Wind
Before

Year 3 - Before

After

Year 3 - After

 

Year Four (after the third dormant period)

Post Dormant Period (Early to mid-May)
  • Head back leader to a strong bud to the southwest wind.
  • Remove branches competing with the leader using collar cuts.
  • It may be necessary to remove leaders displaced by the wind and encourage a southwest wind upright lateral to replace the original leader.
  • Select fruiting laterals in upper portion of tree.
  • Select laterals with proper vigour and orientation.
  • Head back unwanted laterals to 2 buds. These will provide the laterals for the following year's crop.
  • Using training cuts and heading back to 2 bad cuts restricts the growth in the 3-year old portion of the tree.
  • Remove 1 or possibly 2 competing scaffolds using collar cuts.
  • Use training cuts or bench cuts to detect the exterior growth of the scaffolds horizontally.
  • Remove the undesirable growth such as cankered twigs, water sprouts and broken branches using collar cuts.
  • Use thinning-out cuts to open tree and select the best fruiting wood.
Summer Pruning (July)
  • Use caution! Summer pruning reduces tree vigour and may increase the danger of winter injury.
  • Remove upright shoots from scaffolds.
  • Direct external growth of the scaffolds laterally.
  • Selectively remove competing growth from the upper portion of the tree.

Year Four (after third dormant period)
<== Southwest Wind
Before
Year 4 - Before
After

Year 4 - After

 

Year Five Through Ten (after the fourth dormant period)

Post Dormant Period (Mid-April to mid-May)
  • Alternate the leader annually to maintain light wood in the top of the tree
  • Select fruiting laterals in upper portion of tree.
  • Select laterals with proper vigour and orientation.
  • Consider heading back a few unwanted laterals to 2 buds. These mightl provide someof the laterals for the following year's crop.
  • Training cuts and heading back to restrict the growth in the 3-year old and 4-year old portions of the tree.
  • Do not allow growth from the upper portion of the leader to shade the scaffolds in the lower portion of the tree.
  • Heading back cuts may be necessary to maintain the tractor aisle and restrict overlapping growth between trees.
  • Remove the undesirable growth such as cankered twigs, water sprouts and broken branches using collar cuts.
  • Use thinning-out cuts to open tree and select the best fruiting wood.
Summer Pruning (July)
  • Minimal summer pruning is required once the tree is in full production.
  • Remove upright shoots from scaffolds.
  • Direct external growth of the scaffolds laterally.
  • Selectively remove competing growth from the upper portion of the tree.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Ken Slingerland - Tender Fruit & Grape Specialist/OMAFRA;
Neil Miles - University of Guelph
Creation Date: November 2002
Last Reviewed: July 2003