Chopping off the top of a baby tree is a good start?
In 2010 when I planted my first peach tree, the very first thing I did was chop it off into a tiny little twig sticking about 24 inches out of the ground. My mom was mortified. She was kind enough to not say as much, but you could hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes. Having very little experience with trees I immediately started to wonder if I hadn’t made a huge mistake. Sure, I had followed the suggestions of Texas A&M University, but when your mother acts like you screwed up …. well you listen to that. I’m fairly certain she thought I had severely stunted or even killed my new baby trees.
Thankfully hindsight is 20/20 and I can see how making this first cut in a peach tree is actually quite critical and beneficial to the growth of a new peach tree. We actually talked about it in a post about Pruning Baby Peach Trees. For reference, here’s the pictures from that post showing the before and after images of pruning that happened right after planting.
The same tree before and after the initial pruning cuts were made.
So How Much Does the tree actually Grow?
Today I was hoping to show you how well a peach tree fares after only 1 growing season following that brutal first pruning cut. You can probably make out from the size of the rake and the shovel in the picture below that this little tree was only a couple feet tall when I planted it on January 2nd, 2016. This image was taken BEFORE I pruned it down into a little stub. Unfortunately I dont have images of the tree immediately after chopping it off.
This is the first tree we ever planted in our new orchard. (not the same tree pictured in the pruning images above)
Fast forward to October 4th. It has been almost exactly 9 months since I planted the tree pictured above. Since that time we
- Pruned it
- Painted it
- Composted and mulched around it
- Fertilized it
- Watered it
- Sang to it? (I dont think there will be a blog post about that…)
The same tree pictured above after 9 months of growth.
The same shovel from the first picture for size reference.
The 3 main scaffold branches clearly developed
This little stick in the middle there? Well that’s the old top of the tree from when I first pruned it.
Pretty amazing, right? Not only did the tree recover from being brutally pruned down when it was first planted, it made exceptional growth this year. New branches formed below where the tree was chopped down to size, forming the main load bearing branches that will produce and support the peach crop years down the road. The new branches extend over 3-4 feet from the main trunk of the tree. In height, the tree more than doubled from the 24 inches that it was pruned to when we planted it.
Just to reiterate … here’s that first picture again.
Twig in the dirt 9 months ago …
Mom has been right about a lot of horticultural tidbits over the years and I’ve learned a lot from her. We still get in happy little disagreements about things like Roundup and sprays that we’ll have to apply to the trees. I dont know if either of us will be proved out to be right in those arguments, but I’m thankful to have someone to bounce things off of. To be fair, mom prompted me to plant our first tree in 2010. Without her I’d only have a empty yard of grass at home. Thankfully chopping the tree down to size when planting it is one of the few -if only- things she was wrong about!
With fall already here, I wanted to take these last pictures before all the leaves fell off so that you could see how happy and healthy the tree is. It wont be long before winter is here. In the mean time, Dean Edwards and I are happily digging up mammoth rocks and readying the next field for the 520 trees we are planting this winter.