How do you support the branches of a peach tree that are heavy with fruit?


Late frost last year meant zip peaches. This year could be a huge crop. After thinning the tiny fruit, how do we physically support the still heavily laden branches? I can easily envision tripod supports for near horizontal branches, but what to do for the not-so-horizontal branches? I’m thinking the trees will look like they are wearing scaffolding.


Jonathan Foster, Home Horticulture Outreach Professional

You correctly diagnosed why Maine peach owners had such slim pickings last year–those late frosts spring 2023 after warmth-induced bud break killed off many crops, peaches among them.

The typical practice for maintaining a productive home peach tree absolutely involves thinning the fruit buds–kudos to you for following best practices. But we also advise pruning out the branches growing upward or downward from the scaffolding branches, to maintain an “open vase” habit for the tree. You can see demonstrations in NC State Univ Extension’s video on pruning peaches or Penn State Univ Extension’s video on peach production (this one is a little more commercially oriented, but the pruning principles discussed are the same). The upright vertical branches tend to shade lower portions of the tree and themselves, and downward growing ones get shaded by scaffolds above–they both produce fewer and smaller fruit. Plus, as you are contemplating, such branches can still be problematic to support if left unchecked and they get heavy with fruit. Read more on best practices for growing peaches in our UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #2068, Growing Peaches in Maine.

Happy gardening.