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.

If you would purchase my month-by-month garden book and read one chapter a month during the month that fits, it will take all the mystery out of gardening since it takes the gardener by the hand, so to speak, and covers everything you need to know in month by month format throughout the year. By the time you have read it through just once, you will know basically everything necessary for success and you can then branch out and go on to learn even more.

Comments

  1. Hi Pat, I live in Monrovia, Ca and have two lilac bushes. One is the WHITE ANGEL approximately 7 years old and for the first time this year has had the most beautiful, large cluster, fragrant flowers. It is approximately 8 ft tall. I think I had been watering it too much over the years and due to the drought is why it bloomed.
    The other is a Lavender Lady and is three years old. It, too is like its sister bush. Both get the morning sun and afternoon shade.
    I am looking for a red or deep pink bush to compliment my other color. Many of the nurseries have told me lilacs cannot be grown here. Can you help? Thank you.

    • Try the Los Angeles Arboretum as a source of lilac bushes. Lilac’s, such as Lavender Lady, especially developed for Southern California will grow in Monrovia. The like soil slightly on the alkaline side and should be allowed to go a bit dry in fall. So yes overwatering in autumn can prevent flowering. Read what it says in my organic book about lilac.

  2. Retta jankowski

    I have a Florida Peach tree, I am having problems with insects. And leaves that look As if it turning brown, the tree is about 3 to 4 years old, my son got it for me at the University of Fl.
    What can I do to make sure it is healthy?
    Retta

    • It sounds to me that you may have neglected dormant spray. In winter while the leaves are off the tree you should prune properly, then scrape the bark and spray every bit of the tree with dormant spray and do this at least three times during the winter. For now, make sure the tree has adequate water and fertilizer and good drainage. You might also try using a layer of earthworm castings all over the ground under the tree. Also make sure you get rid of ants.

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