When do I prune and spray peach trees? We're reluctant to use sprays but want to salvage some peaches this year.
Peach trees are not pruned when dormant like other fruit trees. Prune between bud-opening and full bloom. They fruit mainly on two-year-old wood, so remove old, unproductive branches. Prune to open the tree canopy center. This reduces disease and increases sunlight, which is necessary for good fruit.
Brown rot fungus is ubiquitous on Maryland peaches. To prevent its fuzzy decay, spray a labeled fungicide when 10 percent of blooms open, when 90 percent of blooms open, 10 days later, and at 14-day intervals all summer until two weeks before harvest when fruit changes color but is still too firm to eat. You may be able to get away with only the most critical sprays -- the first two and the last. Our Home Fruit Production Guide ($8) has spray schedules for fruit trees and small fruits.