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Pioneering the Future

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Fertilization of peach trees: a comprehensive recommendation

Besides recommended fertilizers for meeting the peach trees nutrient requirements, you can find useful information about growing peaches and nectarines

 

(Bearing phase)

Plant population: 500-700 Trees/Ha.
Soil type: light to medium.

 

The recommended average rates of nutrients (Kg/Ha)

 

N

P2O5

K2O

150-200

22-44

200-250

 

 

Fertigation (Kg/Ha)

Time of application

Nutrient requirement

Recommended fertilizer

N

P2O5

K2O

Multi-K

MAP

AN

Spring *to early summer

70-100

22-44

80-100

200-260

80-160

100-140

Summer **

35-40

-

60-75

160-200

-

40

Post harvest

45-60

-

60-75

160-200

-

70-100

Total

150-200

22-44

200-250

520-660

80-160

210-280

* It is recommended to start fertilizing early, approximately a month before regeneration.
** End fertigation 50 days before harvest.
Iron chelates should be administered in lime soils.

Note: Divide application into weekly amounts and apply with at least three hours of irrigation. 
Fertilization recommendation should be adjusted according to leaf analysis.

 

Peaches and nectarines

1. General


The peach fruit grows on the shoots of the previous year. Different varieties are differential regarding their climatic needs, in particular the amount of cold units. In a tropical climate, the peach does not grow, unless it is in a high lying mountainous region, and even then, the harvest will be poor. The reason is that high winter temperatures cause shedding of flowers and fruitlets. The peach is sensitive to spring frost and prefers a dry summer.

In countries with a summer rainfall the peach suffers from diseases and fungi. The peach has a large number of small fruits, and therefore it is necessary to thin them out, by hand or with the aid of chemicals. It is important to make sure that the quantity of fruit borne by the tree is in proportion to its size. In tropical climates, the peach blooms twice and yields two harvests, but of poorer quality.

 

2. Cultural requirements

Soil
The peach grows in diverse soils. Like other deciduous fruits, it suffers from excessive moisture in the beginning of the spring, and therefore a well-drained soil is preferable. It is sensitive to a pH above 8.4 and also to salinity, although less sensitive rootstocks do exist. It is possible to plant a peach in shallow soil since the root system is shallow too.

Water
The peach is drought resistant and can grow even without irrigation, however, in order to obtain an economical crop with good quality fruit, it is customary to irrigate with a quantity of 500-700 mm of water. In a young orchard, the irrigation is the same as for apples, almonds and other deciduous fruits.

In a mature orchard, there are various recommendations for early and late peaches. The factor is according to the following table:

 

 

Factor

 

April

May

June

July

August

Sept

October

 
Early peaches

0.4

0.7

0.7

0.5

0.4

0.4

0.4

Late peaches

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0.8

0.25

 

Irrigation Rate (mm/day)

 

April

May

June

July

August

Sept

October

Total (mm)

Early peaches

1.5

3.0

3.5

2.0

2.0

1.5

1.5

450

Mid-season

1.5

3.0

4.0

4.0

2.0

2.0

1.5

550

Late peaches

1.5

2.5

3.0

3.5

5.0

5.0

2.0

700

 

Growing Seasons

The tree becomes dormant in November-December according to the varieties. Flowering commences in February-March. The blooms are abundant and last approximately 10 days. The time from flowering to the ripening of the fruit depends on the variety and climatic conditions. In a cold climate, this time will be longer, but the quality, colour and taste of the fruit will improve. 2/3 of the final volume of the fruit unit accumulates during the last developmental stage, and therefore it is very sensitive to water deficit in this period.

 

3. Dripping recommendations:

  • One lateral per row with 4.0  liter/h drippers 1 meter apart.
  • Irrigation times should be every 1-3 days. It is possible also to use pulse irrigation.

Fertigation recommendations in France

(source: Chambre d’agriculture, Horta del Rossello No. 156 Dec. 1997)

 

Nutrients requirements:

Variety

Type

Expected yield

N

P2O5

K2O

May crest

Short season

15 t/ha

80

20-30

120-125

Fantasia

Mid season

30 t/ha

110

30-40

180-185

Fair lane

Late season

40 t/ha

140-145

40-50

250-270

 

 

 

Fertilization program: Option 1 (minimum)

 

Fertilizer

May crest
(kg/ha)

Fantasia
(kg/ha)

Fair lane
(kg/ha)

February (soil application)

10-5-20 (*)

400

600

800

April (Fertigation)

Calcium nitrate 15-0-0+25 CaO

3 x 60

3 x 60

4 x 60

One month before harvest

Potassium nitrate

2 x 50

2 x 70

2 x 100

 

Fertilization program: Option 2 (classic)

 

Fertilizer

May crest
(kg/ha)

Fantasia
(kg/ha)

Fair lane
(kg/ha)

February (soil application)

10-5-20 (*)

300

600

800

April (Fertigation)

Calcium nitrate 15-0-0+25 CaO

2 x 50

3 x 60

4 x 60

April to June (Fertigation)

Soluble: 15-5-25 or 16-6-27

10 x 25

10 x 25

10 x 25

One month before harvest

Potassium nitrate

0

1 x 50

2 x 50

  • In case of soils rich in K and/or poor in P, an 11-8-18 type fertilizer should be preferred.

 

Recommendations for peach plantation grown in high tunnels in Italy

Growing method: High tunnels.
Tree density: 750 trees/ha.
Picking season: May (very precocious).

 

Side dressing

Time of application

Ammonium nitrate
(kg/ha)

Multi-K
(kg/ha)

Early March,
Fruits are ~2 cm in diameter

200

200, as prills

Early April

200

200, as prills

 

 

Special treatments to increase fruit size in South Africa

Timing of application

Multi-K, side dressing
(kg/ha)

Multi-K, foliar application

8 weeks before harvest

100

-

4 weeks before harvest

50

-

2 weeks before harvest

-

1%

 Discover all about foliar feeding

 

Fall is an excellent season to prepare the tree to next season requirements in N, K and Fe. As long as foliage is green and active it will readily absorb these nutrients applied by foliar sprays.

 

A general guideline for splitting K application in fertigation programs for peaches

Growth stage

Share of K2O at stage
(%)

Recommended rate
(kg/ha of K2O)

Leaf emergence

15

23

Flowering

20

30

Fruit-set

25

37

Fruit growth

25

37

Fruit maturation

15

23

Total

100

150

 

 

Fertilization of peaches in Spain

Soil type: light to medium, good drainage, pH 6-8.
Annual irrigation rate: ~6,000 m3/ha.
Plant population: 400-600 plants/ha.
Expected yield: 35 t/ha.

 

 

Fertigation: Recommended rates of nutrients and fertilizers

Month

Crop requirements (kg/ha)

Recommended fertilizers (kg/ha)

N

P2O5

K2O

MgO

Multi-K

MAP

AN

Magnisal

March

10

5

0

11

16

5

0

April

15

15

30

5

65

25

0

32

May

20

15

40

5

87

25

7

32

June

27

10

50

15

110

16

0

95

July

30

5

60

15

130

8

5

95

August

30

5

50

10

105

8

25

63

September

6

5

5

5

11

8

0

31

Total annual

133

65

240

55

520

106

42

348

 

 

Multi-K – Potassium nitrate (13-0-46).
MAP – mono-ammonium phosphate (0-61-0).
Amm. Nit – Ammonium Nitrate (34-0-0).
Magnisal – Magnesium nitrate (10.8-0-0-15.8).

 

Source: “Growing Peaches in North Carolina”.

 

 

Fertilizers

Fertility requirements should be determined by visual analysis, soil analysis, and foliar analysis. Trees putting on 12 to 18 inches of terminal growth per year usually require less fertilizer in heavier soils. Foliar samples for analysis should be collected from mid-July through mid-August. Instructions on sampling can be obtained from your county Extension Center. A small fee is charged for each sample submitted for analysis. Table 3 lists the recommended foliar concentrations of key elements for peaches.

 

 

Table 3. Suggested peach foliar analysis levels based on foliar analysis report

Nutrient

Desired range

Nitrogen 2.0 to 3.0 percent
Phosphorus 0.1 to 0.3 percent
Potassium 1.5 to 3.0 percent
Calcium 1.0 to 1.8 percent
Magnesium 0.2 to 0.4 percent
Iron 50 to 100 ppm
Manganese 50 to 100 ppm
Zinc 20 to 40 ppm
Copper 5 to 10 ppm
Boron 20 to 40 ppm

 

 

Source: G. Cummings, North Carolina State University.


General rule-of-thumb fertilization rates for peach trees are shown in Table 4. The principal nutrients needed are nitrogen and potassium, but it may be necessary to supply other nutrients as well.

 

 

Table 4. Fertilizer guide for peach trees

Age (years)

Annual amount of 10-10-10
fertilizer (pounds per tree)*

Newly planted

0.25 to 0.5

1 to 2

0.5 to 1.0

3 to 5

1.5 to 3.0

5 to 10

3.0 to 5.0

Over 10

5.0 to 7.0

 

 

Note: Adjust the rate for your trees' overall vigor.

 

* Other formulations are appropriate; adjust the amount applied for the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium content.


Nitrogen. This nutrient must be applied regularly to both nonbearing and bearing peach trees. Bearing trees need enough nitrogen to ensure good terminal growth (12 to 18 inches per year), fruit production, and fruit size. If a peach tree does not receive sufficient nitrogen during its nonbearing years, its growth will be weak. The amount of nitrogen needed is determined by the tree's age, overall vigor, crop load, and weed competition. Too much nitrogen can stimulate excessive vegetative growth (such as water sprouts), increase susceptibility to winter injury, and decrease fruit color and flower bud formation.

Nitrogen can be applied in early winter (mid December) on heavy soils or in the early spring before bud swell. On sandy soils in North Carolina, it is best to apply nitrogen in the spring just before or during bud break. Summer nitrogen applications are not recommended. For orchards on piedmont soils that have a high native fertility, the lower rates of nitrogen in Table 4 should be adequate for good tree growth and fruit production. On sandy soils, the higher rate should be used.

A split application of nitrogen fertilizer is highly recommended in North Carolina because of the high probability of a spring frost or freeze in many locations. Half of the fertilizer is applied in late February or early March; if a crop is set, the other half is applied in late April or early May. For trees on sandy soils, a third nitrogen application may be necessary. Nitrogen should not be applied after June 15 to avoid winter injury and decreased fruit quality.
If terminal shoot growth is too vigorous (more than 12 to 18 inches), reduce the amount of nitrogen applied. If terminal growth is weak (less than 6 to 8 inches), increase the amount of nitrogen.

 

Potassium. If soil and leaf analyses indicate a deficiency, potassium can be added in the late fall or spring. Although the most common potassium source is muriate of potash, other potassium sources will work equally well. Cost may be the deciding factor. Excessive potassium can interfere with calcium and magnesium uptake and is therefore undesirable.

 

Other Nutrients. Many North Carolina sites may need additional phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. Soil and leaf analyses are the best means to determine what is needed to correct deficiencies.

Macro elements removed by 1 ton marketable product

N

P

K

Ca

Mg

S

-------------------------------------- Kg/ton ------------------------------------------

1.2

0.15

2.5

     

 

 

Source: Kinoch: VOLHOUBARE LANDBOU, RSA. Processed by Frans Lourens, Haifa, RSA May, 1999.

 

 

 

Nutrient sufficiency ranges

(source: A & L, Agronomy Handbook, Ankerman & Large Eds.)

Peach

N

S

P

K

Mg

Ca

Na

B

Zn

Mn

Fe

Cu

Al

Mo

------------------------ % -------------------------

--------------- p.p.m ---------------
From

3.50

0.15

0.20

2.00

0.35

1.50

0.01

25

20

35

100

6

 

 
To

4.50 

0.40

0.50

3.50

0.60

2.50

0.10

50

50

80

250

20

 

 

 

 

Plant tissue sampling procedures

Stage of growth

Plant part

Five to eight weeks after full bloom 4 to 8 leaves from spurs or near base of current season’s growth

 

Recommended rates of major nutrients (% of dry weight)

Source

N

P

K

Mg

Mn

I

3.2-3.5

0.12-0.15

1.8-2.2

0.50<

40-60 ppm

II

N/K ratio= 1-1.3

 

2.7-3.3

   

 

 

II: Determined in Hungary for cv. Dixired at first part of August, Szucs Endre.

 

Sufficient nutrient range of peaches *

Source:  Fertilizing fruit crops – Ohio cooperative extension service, Ohio state University p. 11.

 

Element

Nutrient range (%)

 

Element

Nutrient range (ppm)

N

2.8-3.4

 

Mn

35-150

P

0.20-0.30

 

Fe

50-150

K

1.4-2.2

 

B

25-50

Ca

1.8-2.4

 

Cu

5-10

Mg

0.31-0.40

 

Mo

0.5-2.0

     

Zn

20-50

 

 

* Leaf samples taken between July 15 and August 15 from Mid-shoot leaves on current season’s growth in accordance with instruction provided with the plant analysis.

 

 

 

Peach - Leaf - Mineral analysis values

Nutrient

Average value

Critical level

 

(%)

N

3.40

2.50

S

0.28

 

P

0.30

0.15

K

3.00

2.10

Mg

0.54

0.44

Ca

2.50

1.90

Na

0.03

 
 

(ppm)

Fe

130

 

Al

130

 

Mn

150

120

B

43

28

Cu

12

7

Zn

50

17

Mo

0.7