First of all, before establishing your peach orchard or applying any fertilization, it is essential to perform a soil analysis to have more information concerning the soil characteristics and nutrient availability. The soil analysis should be repeated every 3-4 years. No two fields are the same, nor can anyone advise you on fertilization methods without considering your field’s soil test data, leaf tissue analysis, and crop history. Contemporary commercial Peach farming practices suggest that once a year (in summer – July, August), the grower should collect at least 100 leaves from our Peach trees and send them to the laboratory for a detailed analysis. If a deficiency is revealed (some essential chemical elements are below acceptable standards), the farmer may intervene directly to correct it (maybe through foliar fertilization). However, it is best first to consult your local licensed agronomist.

Peach trees are heavy eaters, and they require a heavy nutrient supply compared to other fruit trees. Before planting the young grafted peaches, many farmers apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer or manure. In this case, it is essential to avoid adding them too close to the young root systems. Do not apply any fertilization after planting until the new vegetation (shoots) is several inches long. During the first year of their establishment, young trees may need 70 gr (0.15 pounds) of Nitrogen per tree. From the second year and onwards, the needs periodically increase to 140 gr (0.3 pounds), 210 gr (0.46 pounds), 454 gr (1 pound), and 730 gr (1.6 pounds). By the 6th year, each tree needs, on average, 1-2.3 kg (2.2-5 pounds) of N. In general, Nitrogen can be added as urea, ammonium sulfate, or ammonium nitrate. In the case there is a calcium deficiency, the peach grower may apply a certain amount of calcium nitrate. The farmer must avoid over-fertilization, especially with Nitrogen, which can favor lush, vegetative growth (at the expense of fruit formation) and increase disease susceptibility. 

On average, a mature, well-established peach orchard needs 150-200 kg (330-440 pounds) of Nitrogen, 22-44 kg (48.5-97 pounds) of P2O5, and 200-250 kg (440-550 pounds) of K₂O per hectare per growing period. Producers may apply Phosphorus in one dose during spring to early summer. The amounts of Nitrogen and potassium are usually divided into three applications, as follows: 

  • During spring to early summer: 70-100 kg (154-220 lbs) of N and 80-100 kg (176-220 lbs) of K₂O
  • During summer (50 days before harvesting): 35-40 kg (77-88 lbs) of N and 60-75 kg (132-165 lbs) of K₂O.
  • Post-harvest: 45-60 kg (99-132 lbs) of N and 60-75 kg (132-165 lbs) of K₂O.

However, these are just some common patterns that should not be followed without doing your own research. In peach orchards with an established drip irrigation system, the farmers may choose to perform complementary fertilization (after the basal fertilization) with fertigations and divide the recommended amounts into more doses (weekly applications). This allows more precise control of peaches’ nutrition since the trees have different requirements during their different growing stages.

Well-rooted animal manure or compost rich in potassium can be used as an alternative to chemical-synthetic fertilizers in organic peach orchards. A common suggestion is adding 10 to 20 tons of well-rotted manure per hectare every one or two years. Another alternative is to apply green manure by incorporating a cover crop into the soil during spring (read more below in the “Cover Crop” paragraph).

However, these are just standard practices that should not be followed without doing your own research. Every field is different and has different needs. Checking the soil nutrients and pH is vital before applying any fertilization method. Leaf analysis is very important to diagnose and correct nutrient deficiencies in the peach tree after consulting an agronomist.

Most important Peach tree Deficiencies

It is crucial to understand that a plant nutrient deficiency does not necessarily have the same soil deficiency as a precondition. Plant deficiencies result from various environmental or cultural factors that lead to plant nutrient absorption disabilities. Thus, farmers should consider testing soil and foliage before applying any fertilizer solution to their plants. 

  • Nitrogen Deficiency

If our trees need more Nitrogen, we will probably notice the older lower leaves turning yellow, combined with reduced growth rate and significantly lower fruit production. If the deficiency is severe, leaves may start to turn red.

  • Iron Deficiency

Peach trees that suffer from iron deficiency start to develop the characteristic symptom of interveinal chlorosis, combined with green nerves on their newly developed foliage.

  • Zinc Deficiency

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include yellow spotted leaves; however, in this case, younger leaves are significantly smaller and closely emerged, and lateral leaf buds may not manage to grow.

  • Boron Deficiency

Boron deficiency symptoms appear with chlorosis and deformations on younger leaves that finally die. In most cases, the tree will not manage to produce fruits.

Cover Crops in Peach Orchards

Some producers, mainly in organic farming, choose to establish cover crops between tree lines in their orchards. This practice has multiple benefits. Cover crops can decrease the weed population and maintain soil structure by preventing erosion. At the same time, cover crops can retain soil moisture, reducing evaporation and making more water available to the crops. In addition, especially when using local plant species (annuals or shrubs and small trees) and letting them flower, the grower may help boost the presence of beneficial insects like predators and pollinators. 

Most producers prefer to sow grasses, such as wheat and barley, or plants of the Fabaceae family, like legumes and beans. Fabaceae plants offer a significant additional benefit since they can enrich the soil with Nitrogen thanks to their symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Grasses can be planted either during spring or in late summer. On the other hand, the proper time for sowing the Fabaceae is in the spring. Grass/legume mixtures are also preferred to obtain the benefits of both types of plants. Other species successfully used as cover crops in a peach orchard are the Phacelia tanacetifolia, Fagopyrum esculentum, Vicia villosa, and Vicia pannonica. The cover crops can either be maintained in the field naturally (by letting the plants produce seeds or/and selecting perennial species) or the farmer can resow it yearly. In the second case, the farmer usually chooses to sow the legumes in early autumn and incorporate them into the ground (plowing) before they flower during spring. This plant material is used as green manure and enriches the soil with Nitrogen making it accessible to the peach trees. As an alternative for the farmers that want to apply limited tillage, they can cut the plants with a lawn mower or allow animal grazing within the orchard. An optimum mowing height is 3-4 inches or 7.5-10 cm. Cover crops with very good grazing value that can be grown in peach orchards are Alfalfa (can give up to 50 lbs of Nitrogen per acre or 56kg per hectare), Annual ryegrass, Bluegrass, Crimson clover, Winter peas, Oats, Orchard grass, Red and White clover, Redtop and Tall fescue.

However, most of these cover crops come with some disadvantages. For example, legumes have increased water needs and may also attract some crop enemies (pests) like stink bugs, lygus, and voles. As a result, every farmer should do his/her own research and small-scale testing before implementing any new practice into his/her orchard.



Peaches Facts, Uses, Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

Peach Tree Information, Variety Selection, and Environmental Requirements

How to Grow Peaches from Seed (Stone)

Growing Peach Trees for Profit – Peach Farming Guide

Peach Tree Soil Requirements, Soil Preparation, and Planting

Propagation and Pollination of Peach trees

How to Train and Prune Peach Trees

Irrigating Peach Trees – How much Water do Peach Trees need?

Peach Tree Fertilizer Requirements

Peach yield per hectare, Harvesting methods, and Storage

Peach Pests and Diseases

Peach Wholesale Prices


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