If peach trees that have a “full crop” are not thinned properly, what can happen?

Answer:  First, the fruit that remain on the tree will be small, perhaps never attaining marketable size or quality. This can be financially disastrous for the commercial grower. Second, as fruits reach the final swell phase of fruit growth and they fill with water and solutes, they significantly weigh down branches.  In some cases, overloaded branches – and even scaffolds - that are not architecturally strong may actually break under the weight.  In the case of high density plantings [i.e., Kearney (Perpendicular) V or Quad V systems], a broken scaffold can reduce tree production capacity by up to 50%.  For a Kearney (Perpendicular) V tree where one of the two primary scaffolds broke at the point of attachment with the other scaffold, the entire tree could end up being lost.  This is an expensive mistake.

broken scaffold, peach tree
Mature Kearney (Perpendicular) V peach tree with too heavy crop load (not thinned adequately) causing primary scaffold on left to break from the weight of the fruit.  Half of the tree’s bearing surface is lost.

broken scaffold, peach tree
Mature Kearney (Perpendicular) V peach tree with too heavy crop load (not thinned adequately) causing both primary scaffolds to break from the weight of the fruit.  This tree cannot be repaired and is a total loss.


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