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My 10 yr old Nectarine Tree Has Never Been Pruned - HELP !!

15 years ago

HELP! (please...)

I am new to pruning (obviously, from photos...) and I would SO appreciate advice in pruning nectarine/peach trees.

My tree was planted by our gardener about 10 years ago. It was supposed to be a dwarf, but it's much bigger than I thought it would be (about 12 feet tall now). I think that's my fault, because I haven't cut it back at all. (I honestly didn't know! We have 3 citrus dwarf trees that have been in the yard since we bought the house 15 years ago and have never needed anything - and produce awesome fruit every year. They're shorter, wider and are, well...perfect. I mistakenly assumed this would be the same, low-maintenance type of tree).

It was very small when first planted and didn't produce any nectarines until 3 yrs ago, and they were not edible. 2 yrs ago, they were almost edible and last year - WOW - THEY WERE WITHOUT A DOUBT THE ABSOLUTE BEST TASTING NECTARINES I HAVE EVER EATEN !!! They were large, beautiful looking, and perfect in every way. I made nectarine-everything for a month and froze what we didn't eat or give away. I have been anxiously awaiting this years crop, but the tree is getting bigger...too big.

So, last summer I started looking into pruning it. I read that I needed to wait until the end of winter/beg of spring to do it - so here we are. I have read and read and think I understand a lot BUT - I swear I've been walking around and around my tree staring at it, shears in hand, and am nervous as heck! I don't want to make a mistake!

There are SO MANY BRANCHES! How do I know which ones to cut? I know I'm supposed to cut limbs that:

hang toward the ground

grow straight up

grow up the middle of the tree (to create open, vase effect)

cross each other

have narrow crotches

water limbs (those little twigs off the main branches)

I know (now) the fruit only grows on 1-yr old wood. I feel like I can sort of tell which limbs are old (they are brittle) and which are new, but there's a lot of branches with new coming out of old.

And the buds at the end of the limbs...what do do? I've read they omit auxins that send buds further down the tree into dormancy, so they should be cut off. But...there are BUDS EVERYWHERE!!

Can someone look at this tree? I'm almost embarrased to even post it bc it's in such desperate need of pruning - but other than cutting out the big limbs in the middle to open it up and the things I mentioned above - do you see anything it needs? (besides an owner who knows what they're doing?).

Thanks so much for any advice!!



Believe it or not...I did actually spend quite a bit of time working with this section. It still looks pretty crowded, but am I on the right track, or do I still need to cut more here? Again...THANK ANYONE for their input!!!


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