Peach Tree Production
Question from Jo:
I live in Los Angeles and planted a bare root Hale Haven peach tree 2 yrs. ago. Last yr. there were maybe 4-5 flowers and 2 peaches (which the birds beat me to). This year I didn’t see any flowers but see 2 small peaches (July 2012)to date. I know next to nothing about growing fruit trees, but I do feed and water and with the exception of ants I don’t see any bugs. Should I give up the hope of ever having a yield or is it too soon? Thanks so much for any help.
Answer from Pat:
Unfortunately, your ‘Halehaven’ peach tree is not adapted to the warm-winter Mediterranean climate of Los Angeles. In fact, you happen to have chosen one of the most cold-hardy varieties in existence. It has flower buds and leaf buds that do not freeze off in winter. Thus ‘Halehaven’ prefers a climate with snow in winter in order to trigger its flowers and leaves to open up when the weather warms up again in spring. It grows well in the agricultural valleys of Alaska or lower elevations of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra’s. In California it will also grow in such places as Stockton or Sacramento, which have many hard frosts in winter. This is as warm a winter as it can undergo and still bear a crop. The only solution is to cut it down and start over with a low-chill variety, such as ‘August Pride’, ”Eva’s Pride’, or ‘Floridaprince’ any of which will bear crops in Los Angeles. The best low-chill white peach is called ‘Tropic Snow’, but it will not bear crops in the fog bank (Sunset Zone 24). It must be a little bit inland. I wonder where you purchased your bare root ‘Halehaven’ peach since it is difficult to believe that any local nursery would hoodwink you in this way. Most good quality local nurseries in Southern California only sell plants that grow well in our climate.
It appears that you have never heard of “low chill” fruit trees, so let me explain. Most deciduous fruit trees are native to cold-winter regions of the world. In order to combat this problem, growers have gradually bred or discovered fruit tree varieties that can bear a crop with only a limited number of what are called “chill hours” (The number of hours a year in which the temperature drops down to lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.) Low chill varieties only need about 500 of these “chill hours”. In order for there to be more hours that cold in winter, one needs a much colder climate than that of Los Angeles.
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