The peach tree is native to China and belongs to the species called Prucus persica. It is a deciduous fruit tree with great resistance to cold but is typical of temperate climates and is abundant in places throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It can withstand up to -20ºC so it is suitable for any Spanish region if we only take into account the ideal temperature of the peach tree.
Like most fruit trees, the peach tree is a tree that needs a lot of light , but it should be mentioned that excessive solar radiation on the branches and trunk can damage it. Hence, pruning is very important in this tree.
The peach tree is a small deciduous tree that can reach 6-8 meters in height. In some parts of South America this tree is called “peach tree” and its fruit is the “peach”.
Planting at the beginning of winter is recommended.
flowers and fruit
The deciduous leaves of the peach tree are bright green in color and have a slightly elongated shape with a serrated edge.
Regarding the flowers of the peach tree, they are quite solitary or at most appear in pairs and are of a pink or reddish color ideal for decorating gardens.
The fruit of this tree is the peach, peach (South America) or presco (Aragón) and is considered a drupe , as is the case with cherries or plums . It is a large fruit characterized by having a velvety skin and a single seed inside a shell that forms what we know as a “stone”. There is also a variety without velvety skin called nectarine, pavía or pelón and another variety with a flattened shape called in Spain as paraguaya or paraguayo.
There are many varieties of peach but, as a general rule, they are usually classified into those whose flesh is easily separable from the pit ( prescos ) and those whose flesh adheres well and is almost impossible to detach ( pavía ).
In addition, we can find white peaches with a sweet flavor in the region of Aragon and in Asian countries and yellow peaches, more typical of other areas such as North America, which have a more acidic flavor. Both types have traces of a reddish color that give them a more appealing appearance.
The nectarine is a variant, by mutation of the sport type , of the peach tree, which does not have hairy skin, but nevertheless belongs to the same species. It is not a graft of peach and plum , as is popularly believed. Often this variant grows out of the same peach tree as a mutated shoot that is often grafted to create a new crop species. It is common for peach trees to produce some nectarines from time to time and vice versa. Like peaches, nectarines can have white or yellow flesh attached to the pit or loose.
The first reference to nectarines dates back to 1616 in England, although very probably they had already been cultivated much earlier in Central Asia.
Peach trees grow in a fairly restricted area, since they need cold and in subtropical areas they do not satisfy this need, while, at the same time, they are not very resistant; in summer they need high temperatures for the harvest to ripen. Some of the most important peach-producing regions are: California, Colorado, Georgia within the United States of America and regions of Canada, some areas of China and the countries of the Mediterranean basin.
Most of the peach trees that are sold in nurseries are cultivated varieties, coming from a graft. They are prone to a disease called leafroll , which is caused by a fungus (Taphrina deformans), which normally does not affect the fruit directly, although it reduces the harvest, because it causes partial defoliation of the tree. The fruit is very sensitive to gummosis, a fungal disease caused by Monilinia fructicola. There is also the Canonja, which is an old peach variety typical of the town of La Canonja, which contains a high quality taste.
The exposure of the peach tree must be in full sun and with good ventilation. To allow cold air to circulate during cold nights and keep the area cool in summer. The best time to plant them is at the beginning of winter, so the roots have time to settle in the ground and feed the spring sprouting.
They must be provided with a constant supply of water, which must be increased a little before harvest. The best tasting fruits are obtained when the trees are watered throughout the season. Drip irrigation is the most suitable method.
Peach trees need a lot of nutrients: they require more nitrogen than most fruit trees. We can apply an NPK fertilizer regularly and an extra dose of manure in the autumn, after harvesting.
The peach tree easily suffers from various pests and diseases . The most important animal parasites are insects, the most frequent of which are various aphids, such as the brown aphid -Brachycaudus prunicola-, the black aphid -Brachycaudus persicae-, the green aphid -Myzus persicae- and the mealy aphid – Hyalopterus amygdali.
Within the mealybugs (Coccoidea), there is particularly the white mealybug (Diaspis pentagona), some lepidoptera, such as the fruit and blotch moth (Anarsia lineatella), the oriental peach moth (Cydia molesta) and the borers of the butterfly of wood In addition, among the Diptera, peaches are attacked by the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) and the almond woodworm (Scolytus amygdali).
Other important adversities are plant viruses (for example, the sharka virus) and fungal infections, the most frequent of which are Taphrina deformans, Corina, moniliosis, canker of drupàcies, white disease , parasitic lead poisoning, Phytophthora spp. collar wilt, and Armillaria mellea and Rosellinia necatrix root wilt.
Tips for a good harvest
If all the fruits are left on the tree, they will be small and without sweetness or taste. Fruits should be thinned when they have reached 2 cm in diameter, usually two months after flowering. It is important to water them in dry conditions.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.