What can happen if peach trees get flooded or if the soil they are planted in remains saturated for more than 48 hours?

Answer: Peach trees definitely do not like wet feet. Soil saturated conditions for 48 hours or longer is enough to kill a peach tree. Ideally, trees should be planted on sites where there is good surface drainage during periods of torrential rains and also good internal drainage. Trees should not be planted in low spots – for one, water can stand there, for two, cold air can settle there and cause spring frost damage. Heavy clay soils or sites with a hard pan near the surface of the ground impede water drainage and can result in soil-saturated conditions following rainfall.  In some cases, use of raised beds can help if the site is otherwise suitable. Under non-saturated conditions, oxygen in the soil air spaces is available to support root respiration and good root health. However, when the soil becomes saturated with water, aerial oxygen is displaced from the soil air spaces. Under these conditions, root respiration is impaired, free nitrates are lost and the toxic end-products of bacterial respiration can build up. Further, trees may be predisposed to infection by phytophthora root and crown rot since this fungus can spread by motile (they can swim) zoospores.

Poor Growth Flooded trees next year
Torrential rains and inadequate surface drainage can lead to flooding conditions in low spots in orchards.  Pumping water off this site could not occur quickly enough to save these young, previously healthy trees.
Young, dead trees in the spring following a flooding event the previous summer.

Heavy soil

Dead, mature trees at a low spot in an orchard with poor soil drainage following a flooding event the previous summer.

Erosion
Torrential rains on sites without appropriate surface drainage can lead to washing out and considerable soil erosion. Note tree that was completely washed out of the tree row.
crown rot - flooded tree
Phytophthora crown and root rot symptoms on a dead tree excavated from an orchard that experienced a flooding event the previous summer.

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