Peaches prosper here too
TRACY HODGEWhile Georgia is best known for its peach trees, our climate also lends itself well to the growth of this sweet, juicy fruit.
Published: February 27, 2013
Published: February 27, 2013
Certain cultivars fare better than others during the winter months, so keep that in mind when choosing your trees. TropicSweet and Florida Prince are two good choices for Central Florida gardeners.
Where you plant your trees is important to their health and vigor. Choose an area in your yard that receives at least 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. Root rot thrives in saturated soil, so be sure to choose an area with proper drainage. Adding organic matter to your soil when planting your trees will give them a good start, as well.
Peach trees that are well cared for usually bear fruit within the second year. It is best to harvest fruit from May through June, so fruit is removed before our summer rains become heavy.
Stone fruit requires fertilizer for optimal growth. Trees that do not receive adequate nutrients may lose their foliage prematurely and blooms may appear too early in the growing season. In our area, February is the best month to begin feeding your peach trees, then again in May and August.
As with any Florida-grown plants, you must be on the lookout for pests that can affect the health of your trees. Although Japanese beetles are a pretty metallic green, they will wreak havoc on the foliage and flowers of peach trees. Weevils such as the plum curculio weevil also are potentially damaging to trees and fruit.
Perhaps the most damaging peach pest is the peach tree borer. These little clear-winged wasps don't appear particularly threatening, but they are potentially devastating. The peach tree borer burrows beneath the bark and the larvae feeds on the wood.
Diseases also reduce tree health. Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease that causes leaf deformity. As the disease progresses, infected leaves will drop and stress. Peach leaf curl can eventually kill infected trees. Treat your trees with fungicide and pesticides two or three times throughout the year for best results.
You will need to prune your trees to keep them healthy and producing fruit. The University of Florida, IFAS Extension suggests doing your major pruning in the winter, when trees are dormant from December through early February. During the spring and summer, light pruning should be done to manage growth. Avoid leaving pruned branches scattered around your yard, as they can bring pests and encourage fungal diseases.
Choosing healthy trees from the start will increase your odds of success. Buy your trees from a reputable nursery that carries a wide variety of trees. K&K Nursery in North Lakeland will have trees in early March and will order anything they don't have on hand.
With proper care and maintenance, your trees will beautify your landscape and provide delicious fruit for you and your family to enjoy. Healthy peach trees can produce high quality fruit for up to 10 years.