NORTH FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION
March 9, 1960
NFES MIMEO REPORT 60-8
SUGGESTIONS FOR PEACH GROWERS IN THE NORTH FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION AREA
By H. W. Young
In response to a number of questions in regards to the planting, training,
pruning, spraying and fertilization of peach trees in the area immediately adja-
cent to this station, the following methods are suggested. It should be kept in
mind that as more research information becomes available there will be certain
changes in some of the recommendations.
Site Selection and Planting.
A fertile, well drained sandy loam or sandy clay loam with a well-drained
clay sub-soil will be found suitable for peaches. Avoid very steep or eroded
hillsides. Avoid locations having poor air and soil water drainage.
Small peach trees, two or three feet in height, are most desirable for
planting. Small trees come into bearing as quickly as larger ones.
Prepare the holes large enough to accommodate the roots without crowding.
Place the tree at the same depth as it was grown in the nursery. As the top soil
is placed in the hole, firm it to settle the soil around the roots. Water to
further settle the soil. Prepare a saucer-shaped area around the tree to facili-
tate watering, should this be necessary.
Planting should be done during the dormant season, from December to
February, with January being the best month. Care should be taken to prevent
drying of the roots during the transplanting operation.
At the present time the only variety that can be recommended for possible
commercial production is Maygold. This variety requires about 650 hours of tem-
perature below 45 degrees for normal production of flowers. Other varieties with
low chilling requirements, such as Jewell, can be grown in the area, however, they
are inferior to Maygold in quality. Large fruited varieties grown further north,
are usually unsuccessful in the area because of the lack of sufficient cold tem-
Pruning and training.
At the time of planting, head the tree back to'-* height of 3 \iches.
Remove all lateral branches, except in cases where 1 al, .bra ch,-oih vigorous.
If trees are large select three to five of the best arc originamng within
a space of 12 inches on the tree trunk with the lowes' ranch about finches
from the ground level. In this area, regardless of thk ior of .t e'ree planted,
it will probably be necessary to select these scaffold bancb first year in
the orchard by pinching or cutting out undesirable shoots.'
Remember that a branch will always remain at the same distance from the ground,
however, the diameter of the branch will increase. Therefore, scaffold branches
selected should be far enough apart to prevent later crowding and splitting of
the crotches. Wide-angled crotches are stronger than narrow-angled crotches.
The main objective of pruning young peach trees is to develop strong well-
branched frameworks. Try to keep the center of the tree fairly open, but 'leave
enough shoots to grow toward the center and upward to protect the tree from sun-
scalding. Young trees need to have scaffold branches on the main and secondary
framework. Therefore, cutting back and thinning out crowded branches is neces-
When the trees reach bearing age, pruning is done to maintain trees in a
profitable fruiting condition and should consist largely of thinning out weak,
unproductive wood and thicker parts and cutting back rangy branches. Upright
branches should be pruned to outward growing laterals. Most growers will find
it desirable to control the height of the tree so that it is not necessary to
use ladders or climb the trees to harvest the peaches and to prune the trees.
A suggested method of fertilizing peach trees is as follows:
Apply 2 pound of 8-8-8 commercial fertilizer or its equivalent to peach trees
during the first growing season, usually about the end of February. One fourth
pound of nitrate of soda may be necessary later in the season (about June) if
excessive rainfall occurs or growth of the tree indicates need for more nitrogen.
The fertilizer may be placed in bands around the tree, but at least four inches
from the trunk. This banding can extend further from the trunk as the tree
increases in size.
These applications may be increased to one pound and 1 pound respectively,
for the second growing season. Beginning with the third growing season, one
pound of an 8-8-8-commercial fertilizer for each one year of age of trees to a
maximum of 5 to 6 pounds per year for mature trees may be applied.
It would be wise to have a soil test made. This soil sample should be
given to your county agent. More specific fertilizer recommendations can then
Time of application Materials to use per 25 gallon
1. Apply just as first peaches begin to lb. 15% parathion wettable powder or
show (usually about a week after most 1 lb. of 25% malathion wettable powder
petals have fallen) plus 11 lbs. wettable sulfur or lb.
2. Apply 10 days after first Same as above
3. Apply 10-14 days after second Same as above
4. Apply about 2-3 weeks before ripening Same as above
* This section on spraying from 'Plant Protection Pointers', University of Florida,
by James E. Brogdon, Extension Entomologist and Donald M. Coe, Extension Plant
Peach Tree Borer Sprays,
Make three applications July 1, August 1, September 1, using two pounds
50% DDT wettable powder per 25 gallons of water. Apply thoroughly to trunks and
lower branches of trees, being especially careful to wet the soil at the base of
the tree. Complete wetting of the trunks and larger limbs in addition to spray-
ing tops of trees when applying insecticides for the plum curculio will aid in
the control of peach tree borers.
Pesticides for insects and diseases can be combined and applied to peaches
in combination sprays. In order to be effective they should be applied on
schedule. For early varieties of peaches that ripen as early as Maygold, the
first three applications may be adequate. If rains are frequent or if later
maturing varieties are grown, the 4th application may be necessary. This
schedule will ordinarily give satisfactory control of the plum curculio and fruit
Insects and diseases can be controlled most effectively with power sprayers,
but most homeowners with only a few trees will not have this kind of equipment.
A 2 or 3 gallon compressed air sprayer should be satisfactory provided sufficient
hose, an extension rod and a suitable nozzle are used. Since this sprayer has
no means of agitation to keep the wettable powder pesticides evenly mixed in the
water, it will be necessary to shake the sprayer rather frequently. A sprayer
with some means of agitation is preferable.
Parathion is a highly effective insecticide against the plum curculio,
stink bugs, scales and peach tree borers. HOWEVER, IT IS ALSO HIGHLY TOXIC TO
HUMANS AND NOT GENERALLY RECOMMENDED TO HOMEOWNERS. IF USED, FOLLOW ALL DIREC-
TIONS AND PRECAUTIONS ON THE INSECTICIDE CONTAINER LABEL. THEY ARE FOR YOUR