THE STORY OF 3 ½ PEACH TREES

Fredericksburg, TX is famous for its peaches. In recent years, though, the peach crop has been smaller, earlier or shorter than farmers would prefer (Hill Country Fruit Council).

The same, unfortunately, has been true for our peach crop.

We have a number of peach trees, some that normally produce quite well and some that have not produced in the last couple of years. This is due to the fact that we have had unusually warm winters.

The first tree we ever got was one that produced Red Globe peaches. Red Globe peaches are self-fertile and excellent for fresh eating, canning, or freezing. Unfortunately, the trees require 850 chill hours (any hour under 45°F.) during the winter. We actually had two of these trees, but lost one to peach borers. Anyway, the trees produced a lot of fantastic fruit for a couple of years, but in the last 6 (at least) years, the remaining tree has produced nothing.

I dutifully pruned it every year according to instructions I found on the internet, waiting until February of this year to do the pruning. I had this idea that if I really whacked it back, the tree could concentrate on the few limbs remaining and maybe produce fruit. Here is what the tree looks like now – sorry, tree.

It produced a lot of buds a couple of weeks ago and maybe – just maybe – a couple of peaches. Check out this picture. I’m pretty sure these are the start of some peaches. We will see.

If we get any this year, I will shape the tree better next winter to make it prettier.

Next, we have a tree that has, up until two years ago, produced so many peaches that some branches actually broke under the weight. This is the tree I blogged about recently, one that seems to be producing one peach.

The problem is that our winters have not been cold enough for this tree – not enough chill hours.

The problem with this tree is that, for some reason, it is now blooming in January. Way too early. Not sure what, if anything, can be done about that. It blooms, cold weather comes and high winds come. End of story for the peaches.

Next, we have a tree that recently bloomed. It, too, produces a lot of peaches. It is either Gala or Empress. I forget.

We had so many peaches from this tree last year that we had to give them away before they got too soft, which seems to happen very quickly. Very, very juicy, almost too juicy. You almost have to eat them over a sink.

Finally, there is our ½ tree.

This is a dwarf peach tree that we bought, I think, at Rainbow Gardens in San Antonio. It blooms at the right time, produces peaches right away and then, for some reason, the peaches stop getting bigger. Usually we can pick them in August or so. Some people suggest that dwarf peach trees do not generally produce as high-quality fruit as full-sized peach trees, but we have found them to be very tasty.

So, if you don’t have a lot of space, but want to grow peaches (and other types of fruit) think about dwarf trees.

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