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crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Posted by nativeplanter 8a (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 23, 12 at 15:47

I have a Red Haven peach tree (purchased from a local nursery in spring 2011) that is now rather overloaded with peaches. I thought I thinned adequately, but it looks like I wasn't ruthless enough. I'm worried that a couple branches might break under the weight of the fruit. I can remove some now, but that's awfully hard to get myself to do, since they look so yummy! I have heard where people sometimes make crutches for fruit trees to support branches, but am having a hard time finding anything out on the best way to do it. I worry that some methods, like a 2x4 with a notch, might rub the bark off. Would a notch made of PVC pipe connectors work better? (I seem to be able to find precious little about the best way to make such supports on the 'net). Surprisingly, I can't find anything on this topic on the forum.

I'm new to growing frut trees; this is only my second summer. (So I'm making a lot of mistakes as I go along, even though I try to read a lot.) We don't have a lot of space (0.97 acre total for the lot), so I really would like to take good care of the few trees I can have. (Unfortunately, I won't be allowed to blanket the lot with fruit trees, either.)

Thanks for any advice anyone can offer!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Pad the supports with something that doesn't hold a lot of water but will cushion against abrasion at the point of contact.


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Cut V in one end of 2x4 U even better you want to raise up Limb to install 2x4 this way want be much movement to brake bark. Install V half way peaches on that limb. You need take crutch out soon as load gone.


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Thanks for the ideas! What do you think would make good padding? Pipe insulation maybe? I'll be sure to put the support half way down the branch and to take it off as soon as possible.


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 23, 12 at 19:35

To support scaffolds I've simply pounded posts into the ground and raised up the scaffold and used duct tape hold the scaffold up (i.e. wrap the duct tape over the top of the T-post and wrap it around the scaffold.)


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Real crutches actually work pretty well...Lol

Go to the goodwill and look for some old crutches. They even come with padding!!


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

I wouldn't have thought of duct tape! That's pretty good. And real crutches would be pretty funny - especially since the tree is in the front yard!

What we wound up doing is using a forked branch from a redtip photinia that my husband cut back over the weekend. We tied it to a T-post that we pounded in the ground. Still no padding, so I'd like to find something for that, but at least the branch won't break. We did lift the branch up a few inches and put the brace in the middle of the branch.

Olpea, I'm wondering - what is the difference between a scaffold and a branch? (You can tell I'm new at this).


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 26, 12 at 23:31

Native,

Scaffolds and branches are sometimes used loosely and interchangeably.

In a more strict sense I suppose you could think of branches as a more general term for wood branching off the tree at any point, whereas scaffold is a more specific term of main branches attached directly to the trunk.

I probably wouldn't worry too much about damaging your peach tree with posts. I've set branches/scaffolds right on top of the posts before and duct taped them there. It does tear the bark up a bit, but not any worse than a pruning wound. Peach trees heal fast.


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

I got the idea from a huge plumeria tree in my neighborhood supported by like 20 crutches...lol. Its a site to see. Most of the crutches are older than I am.


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

I just go into my nearby woods or the woods of customers to find saplings with "codominant leaders", in other words, saplings that form a y. If the woods don't have much available with that shape I use any straight sapling and tape my Y to it from any available branch that will work with electric tape (duct tape too ugly for me).

Probably cheaper to do it Olpea's way if I factor my time, and most don't have nearby woods, but it's what I do. I've never padded a branch while doing this and never damaged a branch by doing it.

Sometimes I tape a long pole (straight sapling) to the trunk of a tree and use heavy twine to tie up branches. The mower guys appreciate this technique and it's the easiest thing to do when you are baffling out squirrels.


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Ah, woodlots, the neighbor's viburnum in the foundation planting at 3:30 a.m., it all works. Just remember to bring some hot dogs to occupy their German shepherd mix and work quietly harvesting those poles. ;-)


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Thanks very much for all the advice folks! It's been extremely helpful (and good for chuckles, which I appreciate greatly). It sounds like it will be OK to leave the support uncushioned, but I will be sure to remove it as soon as we pick the peaches. It's a good thing we put it up when we did - the next day we had a fabulous thunderstorm with high winds that knocked a good amount of fruit to the ground. For a little while it looked similar to hurricane weather! The limb in question did great!


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Growing up here in Napa county on a farm with 60 acres of prunes, I can remember my first time driving a truck. We had hundreds of props made out of 1x4 fir about 8 feet long with a v notch cut in one end. My cousins would get the truck started down a row in low gear and jump out. I would keep the truck straight down the row as they would take the props off the back of the truck, one on each side and prop the limbs as needed. At the end of a row I would honk the horn and one of them would jump in the truck and make the turn down the next row. As a seven year old boy I could claim to be able to drive a truck! With prunes there is no reason to ever thin the fruit as it is sold by the ton not the size of the fruit. Al


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Cali, I thought my childhood was pretty good but that story makes me happy- and envious!

Still, you've never had the highest quality plums if you've never eaten them from a thinned tree. (Not that you haven't).


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RE: crutches for overloaded peach tree?

Harvestman, prunes were our cash crop and we had mostly french with some imperials. We sun dried most of them with a few sent to the dehydrator. For family plums we preferred the Satsuma which makes excellent jam as well as fresh eating. Our grandson when about four, while visiting was picking them up from the ground and eating them. His mother asked what are you doing with the pits? He said he ate the whole thing! No harm was done. We are blessed with the country life, and appreciate it. Al


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