Peaches are grown in a variety of climates and soil conditions with production stretching from California to New Jersey and, of course, Georgia. Just like the variety of growing conditions, the nutritional needs of orchards are different and should be modified as needed.
Start with soil
Peach trees can grow in most soil types but prefer clay or sandy soils with good drainage. A soil test can help determine soil pH, with trees growing best in soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5. If the pH is low, lime should be applied to help balance the level prior to planting peach trees. The trees thrive in nitrogen-rich soils, and like many crops, need phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, potassium and magnesium to grow properly.
Nutrient deficiency in peaches
Nitrogen deficiencies can be seen through chlorosis, or pale leaves. Leaves with a dark, leathery texture can be attributed to a phosphorus deficiency. Curled edges of leaves are a key indicator of potassium deficiency. Fruit color development is closely related to the balance of nitrogen and potassium in the soil. The desirable peachy fruit skin color has been associated with high potassium levels and low nitrogen levels.
Nitrogen is a key nutrient needed for tree growth and fruiting. Nitrogen reacts strongly to pruning and irrigation. Establishing high nitrogen levels during the early season can result in maximum fruit growth through adequate pruning and soil moisture.
Nutrient needs should be monitored through soil tests and foliar analysis and can also be recognized through branch and leaf development.
Fertilizing your peach trees
Nitrogen should be applied annually, whereas phosphorus and potassium should be applied based on soil test levels. Overfertilization can cause vegetative growth, leading to internal canopy shading and reducing flower bud production for the next year’s crop. Excessive vegetative growth can also affect the color, taste and overall fruit quality.
First-year orchard fertilization depends on when the trees are planted. Trees planted in the dormant winter months, January through March, shouldn’t be fertilized until August. Fertilizer should not be incorporated during planting or applied to the soil surface around newly planted trees until the soil is settled, as this can shock the new tree. Second-year trees should be fertilized three times from March through August, and mature trees can be fertilized three times between June and August. Fertilizer amounts and timing will differ between growing regions and soil types.
For a complete nutrient source for your peach trees, consider Rainbow Plant Food for a balanced supply of key primary, secondary and micronutrients.
About Rainbow Plant Food
Rainbow Plant Food is a chemically homogenous compound providing the same amount of micronutrients in each granule. With Rainbow Plant Food, growers get a consistent spread of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and other micronutrients needed to give peach trees the nutrients they need when they need it. In uniform size and shaped, water-soluble granules take the nutrients right to the roots of trees.
To learn how Rainbow Plant Food is made, click here.
For fruit and vegetable application recommendations, click here.