How to Prune and Maintain an Espalier Peach tree (Avalon Pride)

The Garden Party

Every week I email a gardening question to the panel of experts at BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Garden Party  and then eagerly listen to the programme the following day, scribbling down the gems of information they kindly offer. Today however, for the first time, I thought I would share their advice with you:

My question:

Dear Gardeners,

We have an espaliered Avalon Pride peach tree (resistant to leaf curl apparently) that I planted about five years ago which is now as big as I want it to get – in other words, it’s filled its space on the wall that it shares with a fan trained fig tree.

AVALON PRIDE peach in April

Last year we had a bumper crop of fruit off it and again this year I’ve spotted several baby peaches forming.

Of course like everything else at this time of year, it is exploding with new growth – are these called ‘water sprouts’ or ‘laterals’ maybe? Mainly growing upwards off the horizontal branches. Do I remove them? If so, exactly where on the new growth do I make the cut and WHEN?

New growth AVALON PRIDE peach

So my question is about pruning, which every year I struggle to get my head round. In a nutshell, we want to maximise fruit production whilst maintaining its current size.

Many thanks in advance.

Bridget

The Garden Party’s response:

Because it’s a Prunus you’ve got to SUMMER PRUNE. You have to decide which bits you want to grow to give you structure and which bits you want to fruit. Your tree is already well structured so presumably you’ll want most of it to bear fruit.

New peaches on Avalon Pride Peach Tree forming in July

So you cut back all the new growth to under a third of the length taking them right back, leaving any fruit in place. When we saw the photograph of your tree in April I reckon it’s looking pretty good – you just need to take out a bit more. You’ve got a bit too much leafage and you need to get more air circulating.

AVALON PRIDE peach tree in July

Any growth sticking out in the wrong direction you should take off completely and the others you take back to just under a third.

It might be necessary on occasions to take out an old branch and replace it, so keep an eye on suitably positioned new growth for this purpose near to the branch that you plan to remove and train accordingly.

Well Bridget, I hope that explains it!

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