If you recently planted peach trees, you might not see any fruit on the branches yet. In that case, you may be wondering when peach trees bear fruit – and if there is anything you can do to help them along.
So, when does a peach tree bear fruit? A peach tree bears fruit 2 to 4 years after planting, in mid to late summer (June to August). Dwarf varieties bear fruit a year sooner (1 to 3 years after planting), and mature trees bear more fruit. Over fertilizing, over pruning, extreme cold, or lack of chill hours can prevent fruit production.
Of course, it may take a longer time for your peach tree to start producing fruit. For example, the time to first fruit depends on the variety you choose and the age of your tree when you buy it.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at peach trees and when they bear fruit. We’ll also discuss the factors that affect your harvest, including pruning, fertilization, and environment (soil & temperature).
Let’s get started.
When Does A Peach Tree Bear Fruit?
A peach tree (Prunus persica) bears fruit 2 to 4 years after planting. Of course, this assumes that the tree is already 1 to 2 years old when you buy it from a nursery for planting.
The Penn State University Extension suggests pruning to encourage proper growth and branch structure (during the first 3 years). This may mean fruit thinning, which will also help to produce a healthy tree with a strong root system that can support more fruit in later years.
According to the Texas A&M University Extension, peach trees produce fruit on 2nd year wood. This means that a peach tree needs to produce some new growth each year (since that same growth will produce fruit the following year).
All the more reason to prune your peach tree wisely! (more on this later)
When Does A Dwarf Peach Tree Bear Fruit?
A dwarf peach tree produces fruit 1 to 4 years after planting. According to the University of Vermont Extension, a dwarf peach tree may produce fruit a year sooner than a standard size peach tree.
Dwarf peach trees also take up less space in your yard, and they are easier to harvest fruit from.
The trade-off is that a dwarf tree will not produce as much fruit as a full-size tree. The simple fact is, a smaller tree cannot support as much weight as a large tree (in terms of branches and fruit).
However, a dwarf peach tree might be right for you if you want to:
- grow peaches in a smaller space
- have a more manageable tree (a shorter tree is easier to prune and harvest from)
- get fruit a little sooner (1 year early if you are lucky!)
What Month Do Peach Trees Bear Fruit?
A peach tree may bear fruit as early as June. However, it is more common to harvest ripe peaches later in the summer, in July or August (some late-season varieties bear fruit into September).
The University of Massachusetts suggests planting early, mid, and late-bearing peach trees. That way, you can maximize your harvest window and enjoy peaches for a longer window (just check in the catalog or online to see when a peach tree variety bears fruit).
Generally, the fruit on a peach tree is ripe 3 to 5 months after its flowers are pollinated. Peach trees bloom in spring, often starting in March or April.
When peach trees bloom, the flowers have a strong, pleasant fragrance and vibrant colors (like pink).
A peach tree in bloom produces flowers in various colors, including:
Most varieties of peach trees are self-pollinating. However, keep in mind that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination (more on this later).
Do Peach Trees Produce Fruit Every Year?
Peach trees do not produce fruit every year. The most common reason is that they simply are not mature enough yet!
Most peach trees will need 2 to 4 years before they grow to maturity and start producing fruit. Dwarf varieties may start producing fruit 1 year sooner than standard size peach trees.
Even after reaching maturity, peach trees may fail to produce fruit for a variety of reasons.
- too much fruit in the prior year – this is known as biennial bearing (lots of fruit one year, but no fruit the next year). Basically, the tree spent all of its energy to produce fruit last year. As a result, it does not have enough energy to produce fruit this year. You can prevent this by thinning the fruit each year to avoid over bearing.
- too much wood production – the tree spent all of its energy to produce new wood. This is often caused by over pruning or over fertilizing. The upside is that this can lead to more fruit in the following years.
- frost damage – warm weather in late winter (false spring) can trick peach trees into flowering too early. A cold snap can kill the flowers that appear, preventing fruit that year.
Keep in mind that these problems can delay fruiting on a peach tree by a year or more!
Also, remember that if you plant a seed (stone) harvested from a peach tree, you may end up growing a tree that will never bear fruit. To ensure production on peach trees, buy established trees from nurseries.
As mentioned above, you may also see what is called “biennial bearing” in your peach trees. This means that they will only flower and produce fruit every other year.
Often, this will happen after a year of very heavy fruit production. Biennial bearing is also more common in younger trees.
As a result of biennial bearing, you may miss a year of fruit here and there.
Essentially, the tree’s resources are exhausted from using so many nutrients to produce a large fruit harvest. The tree then takes a year to gather resources, recover its strength, and prepare for production the following year.
To avoid biennial bearing, use fruit thinning on your peach trees. Fruit thinning is when you cut off fruit in the early stages of growth.
The University of Maryland suggests thinning fruit on peach trees when the peaches are half an inch in diameter. Leave one fruit every 6 to 8 inches (this will prevent moldy fruit, which is more likely when two peaches touch each other).
As an added benefit, fruit thinning helps to avoid broken branches on your tree due to the weight of excessive peaches.
Of course, there could be other reasons that your peach harvest is poor or nonexistent (more on this later.)
For more information, check out this article on time to fruit for trees on the Stark Brothers website.
How Much Fruit Does A Peach Tree Produce?
Generally, a peach tree that has reached maturity can produce 3 to 6 bushels of fruit per year. A dwarf variety can produce 1 to 3 bushels of fruit, and a miniature variety can produce up to 1 bushel of fruit.
A bushel of peaches weighs 50 pounds, so a mature peach tree can produce 150 to 300 pounds of peaches per year! Dwarf varieties may only produce 50 to 150 pounds, and miniature varieties may only produce 50 pounds.
The table below summarizes fruit yield for peach trees of various sizes (miniature, dwarf, and standard sizes):
|Miniature||up to 1||up to 50|
|Dwarf||1 to 3||50 to 150|
|Standard||3 to 6||150 to 300|
peach trees of various sizes:
miniature, dwarf, and standard.
The fruit on a peach tree appears red or yellow on the outside, with yellow or white flesh inside.
Peach trees can live for 15 to 20 years, growing to a height of 15 to 25 feet (6 to 10 feet tall for dwarf varieties).
Peach trees can yield fruit for at least a decade after they first start producing. Remember that peaches bloom and grow on 2nd year wood (branches that are 1 year old).
What Kind Of Peach Tree Should I Plant?
When selecting a peach tree, make sure to choose one that you can grow in your climate! For more information, check out the USDA Zone Hardiness map to see what zone you are in.
Also remember that there are two basic types of fruit on peach trees:
- freestone – the flesh separates easily from the seed (stone) inside
- clingstone – the flesh tends to hold on to the seed inside
Here are some different varieties of peach trees that you might want to try.
- Blushingstar Peach – this peach tree grows in Zones 4 to 8, and produces large red fruit that matures in mid-August. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Blushingstar Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
- Burbank July Elberta Peach – this dwarf peach tree grows in Zones 5 to 9, and produces medium red fruit that matures in late July. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Burbank July Elberta Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
- Contender Peach – this peach tree grows in Zones 4 to 8, and produces medium to large red fruit that matures in mid to late August. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Contender Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
- Redhaven Peach – this dwarf peach tree grows in Zones 5 to 8, and produces medium red fruit that matures in late July. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Redhaven Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
- Reliance Peach – this dwarf peach tree grows in Zones 4 to 8, and produces medium to large fruit that matures in July. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Reliance Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
- Stark Early White Giant Peach – this peach tree grows in Zones 5 to 8, and produces extra-large red fruit that matures in June. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Stark Early White Giant Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
- Stark Saturn Peach – this peach tree grows in Zones 5 to 8, and produces medium to large red fruit that matures in July. Bears fruit in 2 to 4 years. For more information, check out the Stark Saturn Peach on the Stark Brothers website.
This information is summarized in the table below.
|Blushingstar||4 to 8||Large |
|Burbank July |
|5 to 9||Medium |
|Contender||4 to 8||Medium |
|Redhaven||5 to 8||Medium |
|Reliance||4 to 8||Medium |
|Stark Early |
|5 to 8||Extra |
|Stark Saturn||5 to 8||Medium |
along with their USDA Hardiness Zones
and fruit size. All of them bear fruit
2 to 4 years after planting.
All of the peach trees listed here are self-pollinating (more on this below).
Do You Need Two Peach Trees To Produce Fruit?
You do not need two peach trees to produce fruit, since most peach varieties are self-pollinating. On a self-pollinating tree, each flower contains both male and female parts.
Under the right conditions, the male part of the flower will release pollen onto the female part of the flower. However, self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination.
The flowers still require some sort of stimulus (such as a bee’s buzzing wings or the wind) to pollinate properly. You can provide this stimulus with an electric toothbrush if there are not many bees in your area.
For more information, check out this article on peaches from Wikipedia.
What Other Factors Affect Fruit On Peach Trees?
The quality of care that you give your peach trees will determine how much fruit you get each year. In some severe cases, you will get no fruit on your peach trees in a given year.
Some of the most important factors that affect fruit on peach trees are:
Let’s start with temperature.
Many varieties of peach trees do well in warmer climates – the phrase “Georgia Peach” comes to mind. However, there are some varieties that can survive winters up to Zone 4.
Peaches can certainly survive frost. However, they are more likely to sustain damage if temperatures drop rapidly or if they were pruned recently.
Temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) can spell trouble for some peach trees. Temperatures below -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius) can damage the wood of peach trees.
On the other hand, mild winters are another situation that can prevent peach trees from producing fruit. The reason is that a peach tree needs a certain number of chilling hours each winter.
A chilling hour is an hour between 32 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 18 degrees Celsius). Temperatures around 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) seem to contribute more to chilling hours than temperatures that are much higher or lower.
According to the Penn State University Extension, peach trees may need 800 to 1200 chilling hours each winter. Otherwise, they will not break dormancy in the spring, leading to a complete lack of flowers and fruit that year.
One other hazard to your peach harvest is a late spring frost. A cold snap after a peach tree breaks dormancy in the spring can kill all of the flowers on the tree. In fact, this happened to our peach trees a couple of times over the past few years.
This may be frustrating if you live in a warm area, but it is nature’s way of protecting the tree. If the tree flowers too early during a mild winter, a late spring frost can kill all of the flowers and destroy any chance of a peach harvest that year.
Before purchasing peach trees online, make sure that your climate gets enough chilling hours in the winter to produce fruit, while also staying warm enough to keep the tree alive.
For more information, check out this article on chilling hours from the University of California.
Avoid letting the soil get too dry for too long if you have young peach trees. If you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on preventing dry soil.
On the other hand, over watering can spell death for your peach tree, due to root rot or fungal diseases. For more information, check out my article on over watering.
For older peach trees, give them deep, infrequent waterings. This stimulates the root system to grow deeper and wider, rather than remaining shallow and staying near the surface of the soil. This will help the tree to survive periods of drought or neglect.
Before you plant a peach tree, add some compost to your soil. It will provide organic material and nutrients for your tree as it grows.
The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!
For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.
According to Stark Brothers, you may also want to add other soil amendments, including aged manure, lime, or sulfur (these last two will help to adjust soil pH if it is too acidic or alkaline).
According to the University of Maine Extension, the ideal soil pH for peach trees is 6.5 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral).
It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if your soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.
For more information, check out my article on soil testing.
Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your peach trees by over fertilizing them. For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your peach tree from producing any fruit (although it may have lots of nice green leaves!).
Regular pruning is recommended for peach trees. Fruit thinning can help to prevent broken branches or biennial bearing (fruit every other year).
Light pruning can be done at any time of year. Heavy pruning should be done in late fall to late winter, before the peach tree breaks dormancy.
According to the Texas A&M University Extension, the goal of pruning is to remove old shoots that will not produce fruit. (One way to tell is by their gray appearance).
When you prune a peach tree, first remove branches that no longer produce. Remember that a peach tree only produces fruit on 2nd year growth (branches that are 1 year old).
Then, trim any remaining branches to 2/3 of their original length. This will stimulate the growth of new wood lower on the tree, where you can reach the fruit.
Another interesting option is to grow the tree against the side of your house, training and pruning it espalier style.
For more information, check out this article on pruning peach trees from the Penn State University Extension.
Now you have a good idea of when peach trees bloom, when they are mature enough to produce fruit (2 to 4 years after planting), and what time of year to expect fruit (mid to late summer, or June to August). You also know a bit more about how to take care of peach trees and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.
If you have other types of fruit trees, you might want to check out my article on when a pear tree bears fruit, my article on when a cherry tree bears fruit, and my article on when a fig tree bears fruit.