June drop

>> Friday, July 6, 2007

Over the past couple of days I have noticed many young peaches scattered around the ground. Now this in itself is not really that big of a deal because they are all laying around under a peach tree. And they do tend to drop some about this time every year. What is remarkable about it happening this year is that there are so many. Here is a picture of what I picked up so far.

We moved into this house in 2004 and the peach tree was planted by the previous owner about 25 years ago. He told us that the tree suffered from two lightning strikes, one in 2003 and again in early 2004 and the poor thing shows it. Some branches are looking a bit beat up and some branches have had to be cut off. Also, last year high winds took off two more branches. Given the history of events and the age of the tree I just figured we wouldn’t get much off of the tree and we haven’t. We have been putting off the inevitable replacement of it because it is a big tree and does still provide some shade. Here’s a picture of the ‘doomed’ tree.

Research told me that occasionally fruit trees will just not produce anything or produce a very small crop. This is what happened last year when none of our fruit trees (we have one each of apple, cherry, plum, peach and pear) produced very much. The year before, in 2005, they each produced an amazingly large crop (except the peach tree). Last year I thought I had done something wrong since they didn’t produce (I’m pretty much used to doing something wrong when it comes to gardening since I am such a rookie at it all) but then I learned that many of my neighbors trees went through the same thing. Then I learned that it is just a natural cycle to have an ‘off year’, so I felt better.

This year the cherry tree did not produce as much but I know why that is. It’s because there is a bit of an insect problem with that one that I can’t do anything about until this Fall. We just let the birds have what little fruit it produced.

The apple tree is back to its prolific self and the plum and pear trees are doing really well.

As for the peach tree, my research told me that they need to be thinned very harshly every year. I didn’t thin because I thought the tree wasn’t going to do much anymore so I just wasn’t looking at it closely enough. Actually, I have pretty much ignored the tree until I began to step on the little squishy fruit. And that’s just wrong when you’re bare foot! Yuck!

I found out that you should thin out about 92% of the fruit! I was amazed when I heard this figure. And that if you don’t take enough fruit off then the tree will shed the fruit on its own. This is called ‘June Drop’ and it affects the apple tree as well. I’m used to it with the apple but the pear hasn’t done much since we moved in until now.

The research I read told me that after the peach tree loses this much fruit it will then produce larger peaches. So, I don’t know if that is what is going to happen with this tree or not but I will keep my fingers crossed. There is nothing quite like a fresh juicy peach right out of the tree. I am so looking forward to this.


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