By Jackie Rhoades
Everything was looking wonderful. Your peach tree was a spring delight covered in beautiful blossoms. You checked and rechecked as the blossoms began to fall and sure enough, after a few days, there they were! Your tree was covered with the tiny little swollen nubs of peaches to come. And then it happens. You look out your window and horror of horrors, you see your peach tree dropping fruit! Peach tree fruit drop has caused many a gardener many a worry and chances are they’ve worried for nothing. Immature fruit falling off a peach tree is usually a normal occurrence.
Reasons for Peach Fruit Falling Off Tree
There are three main category causes for fruit falling off a peach tree. The first is a natural occurrence, the second is environmental disturbances and the third would be pest or disease related.
All fruit trees get rid of a portion of their immature fruit, so while watching peaches fall from tree may be painful to see, it’s part of a natural process. There’s even a name for it: June drop. This actually helps the tree remain healthy and allows the remaining fruit to grow larger.
Most of the fruit falling off a peach tree in a natural shed were weaker specimens to begin with. The stronger specimens then have access to more of the nutrients and water the tree provides and have a better chance to reach the point of ripening.
A tree can naturally lose up to 80% of its immature fruit and still be considered normal.
Environmental causes would be the next likely culprits for peach fruit falling off a tree. Late frost or even unusually cold, but not freezing, temperatures can result in a peach tree dropping fruit.
High humidity as well as excessive spring heat can produce the same effect.
Lack of sunlight from too many cloudy days can also cause peach tree fruit drop by depleting carbohydrate availability.
Inconsistent watering, days of rain followed by long dry spells and of course, nutrient deficiencies can all play a role in a trees ability to retain or shed its fruit and it might not be just one of these issues, but a combination of several.
Sadly, another environmental cause of immature fruit falling off a peach tree may be the lack of pollinators. Bee populations have suffered in recent years because of improper use of insecticides and natural causes.
Pests & Diseases
Insect pests and diseases are the third cause when peaches fall from tree. Various scabs, peach leaf curl, plum curculio and bark cankers can all be a cause of peach tree fruit drop. Stink bugs and lygus bugs are sucking insects that attack young fruit and literally suck enough life from them to be rejected by the tree. Certain wasps lay eggs in fruit and the feeding larva will destroy the young fruit.
Control of Peach Fruit Falling Off Tree – Prevention
While many of the causes of a peach tree dropping fruit are unavoidable, there are things that you can do. Thin fruit by hand to reduce competition and ensure larger fruit. See that your trees receive consistently adequate water, hand watering when nature doesn’t provide enough. Begin a balanced fertilizer program to increase the availability of nutrients to both the tree and the fruit. Avoid herbicide drift and only apply insecticides as directed, spraying in the evenings, after bees have returned to the hive.
Good fruit cultivating practices will help ensure that the only peach fruit falling off the tree are those that nature intended.