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How do I know when to pick peaches and nectarines?

My nectarines look like mini nectarines with good color.

I have 2 peach trees. One white variety is green, so I think they need more time. The other variety is nice color, but small. But all my fruit is small since my trees are very young ones I planted this year.

Both nect and peaches are hard on the tree. Do they soften on the tree? Should I pick them by color when they look good or by what guidelines?

 
No expertise, here. But I had peaches and nectarines on young trees this year, too, so I can share my experience. Basically, once they started looking about right, I would pick a single fruit and see how it tasted. Yours look really good to me, so I'd give them a try and see.

We did find that if we picked a bunch and let them sit overnight, they would be wonderfully sweet and juicy in the morning, while those left on the tree were still quite firm (but sweet). So perhaps picking them and letting them sit a day is the way to get the best flavor.

Good luck. Aren't they wonderful? We enjoyed the heck out of ours--we ate every last one. Smiler
 
Blogging about life, the universe, and ducks at www.curiositycat.me
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Another factor to consider is what the birds are doing and if you can protect the fruit enough. I usually pick apricots before they are fully ripe, because even with protection in the form of cd's, the birds will eat them all. But figs don't work that way, so I wait till they are fully ripe, leaving the fruit at the top for the birds.
 
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Your nectarines aren't small because the tree is young, they are small because you didn't thin out the fruit. A grower friend of mine said that you should thin out the fruit so that there is one fruit no closer than one foot away from another fruit. I thinned out this year but wussed out. I kept fruit about 6" apart. The fruit was at least half again larger than last year, about 3" tall. Next year I intend to do it right. Do it when the fruit is large enough to notice. The big problem I'm having is birds. I just hung old CDs and holographic reflective tape to try and keep them away but they've already done considerable damage and from what I've read the reflectors should be installed before the fruit attracts the birds.
 
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I have 2 peach trees. They often appear the right color before they are ripe. The peach might be mostly red but have one area that is yellow green. It is not ripe until that last area turns more of a yellow/orange color. Another hint is they separate easily from the tree when ripe. And the smell test works too. Even if you pick them a little early, you can leave them out on a table/counter for several days and let them ripen.
 
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Yes, they do soften on the tree and there is nothing like a fully ripened peach just picked off the tree, warm from the sun.

When we had our organic orchard we picked peaches and nectarines just at that very first sign of softening. When we brought them to market later that day they were perfect for sitting a day or two at the market- they always sold out by the next day and were perfect for eating.

For the best flavor don't pick them when they are hard. Peaches do not ripen after they have been picked, though they will soften so don't use color alone as the indicator.

And although thinning is an important part of growing larger fruits, a young tree can also impact fruit size, as well as nutrients. Peaches need more nitrogen than most fruit trees and a constant supply of water (which you should increase just before harvest time). Weed control is also important as they can rob the tree of nitrogen, especially in the first couple of years.

We never thinned them a foot apart, but certainly 6 inches.
 

 


Zone 5/6  Northern New Mexico

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What did you do to protect the fruit from birds? My grower friend suggested (since I have only three trees) that I put a paper bag around each fruit. I had a friend who put stockings around each fruit and I thought of buying kid socks to put around each fruit. I wonder what a gross of kids socks at Costco would cost?
 
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You can use bird netting flung over the whole tree. (best with smaller trees around 8 feet or less). There is also something called bird tape (or glitter tape) which you tie onto stakes that extend a couple of feet higher than the tree (4 or 5 stakes per tree). Make sure each tape strip is about 3 feet long and run the stakes up through the tree branches (canopy). I would not cover the fruit with bags or any other covering. It sounds like a lot of work. and you want the fruit exposed to the elements.

Our trees were large so we simply had an agreement with the birds: 2/3 for us 1/3 for them. It worked for us. I would pick any bird pecked fruit for our own eating, baking or freezing, just cutting out the bird eaten parts, leaving the untouched ones for market.
 

 


Zone 5/6  Northern New Mexico

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I'd rethink the bird netting idea. I gave up on it after having to untangle untold numbers of birds from it - both inside & out. The last straw was when I found a lovely male Scarlet Tanager tangled up & dead in it. Not worth the heartbreak. From that moment on, I just count on sharing the harvest with the birds.
 

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"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

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"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

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Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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I agree, Breezy, though I have heard that if you gather the netting around the trunk and tie it to the trunk you can avoid birds getting caught. I don't know, never tried it- just heard that is something to do. I still say sharing is the way to go.
 

 


Zone 5/6  Northern New Mexico

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I haven't used the net on trees but did use it over a strawberry bed. It cought a garden snake. Luckily SIL came to extract it took it home to heal then released it.
 
Learning to garden in a hot box.
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I've tried the netting every which way - tied snugly & securely around the trunk, with "escape" holes, without "escape" holes, clothespinned, you name it - the birds got in or got tangled in it anyway. Even if they don't get under it, just landing on it entangles their claws, & once they start panicing, that's that.

As for catching snakes, that's also a worry. Friend of mine had a poor Black Rat Snake try to crawl through some bird netting he had stored in his basement, get stuck, & die. He threw it all out after that.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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I gave up on netting years ago. A real pain to put over the tree and more of a pain to get off unless you just cut it into pieces. Even then you're pulling the snagged net off branches.
 
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Yeah, the application & removal of the netting was yet another reason why my husband was almost doing cartwheels when I decided to give them up for good - lol!!

Oh, & for non-tree fruit situations like strawberries, gooseberries, & small-bush blueberries - very light-weight floating row covers work very well without any danger to wildlife.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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The bird discouragers seem to be working and I've been able to pick some soft, ripe Nectarines. Very tasty. Now that I know what a producer this tree is (after only three years), I'll have to get more serious about tending to its needs. Desertwoman: what kind of fertilizer do you use on your trees and when do you apply it? My trees are planted in very clayey soil in Reno, NV, and can probably use all the help that they can get.
 
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Lefty - I credit both of the following organic orchard-fruit fertilizers from "Gardens Alive" with rescuing some pretty sad fruit trees (cherry, peach, & apple) we inherited when we first bought our place. I've used both the "build-up" & the "maintenance" with excellent results.

http://www.gardensalive.com/se...ertilizers&x=11&y=11
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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The CDs and mylar tape worked only briefly. The birds have gotten to my plums and peaches, even tho they aren't ripe enough for picking and eating. I tried hanging used sweat socks, hoping that the human smell would keep them away, this worked with a pesky woodpecker, in the past. That didn't work, either.

There is a spray of a product, Bird-X Rejex-it, made from grape seed which makes fruit unpalatable to birds. I'm going to try that next year.

Another problem I'm having with the peaches is that they are falling off the tree before being fully ripe. I understand that peaches won't ripen off the tree but I have them in a closed paper bag to see if I can do anything to get them to ripen. They are large and gorgeous looking with white flesh. The one ripe one that I ate was very sweet with great flavor.
 
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Unfortunately Lefty, except for scavenger/carrion-eaters, birds have no sense of smell. So only the strange appearance of your socks would have any effect.

And peaches (& nectarines) WILL soften & ripen somewhat off the tree, so long as they're "almost there". I do it successfully with mine all the time. However, it won't work if they're still in the green stage.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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Thanks, Breezy, I'll get some of the "Fruit Trees Alive".
 
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If birds can't smell why is it that they do not bother the fruit until it starts to get ripe?

My peaches didn't ripen in a paper bag but they worked out well in a peach pie.
 
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They have no sense of smell, but they have EXCELLENT sight - color included.

Case in point - if you grow the sweet little wild-type Alpine Strawberries, you'll find that the red varieties are fair game for bird-pecking. Grow the pale yellow &/or white varieties & they'll barely be touched by the birds.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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Although this thread might seem ancient, I haven't been around these parts for as long as most of you, so I'll interject a word in hopes that it might help some next summer. (Aaahh, summer. Day-sleepy Oh! Where was I?) I heavily echo EarlyGirl's endorsement of the smell policy. Birds might be unable to smell, but most of us can, and it's key here. If peaches become lightly fragrant and past the green stage, they're ready to pick. But eat them as soon as they're good and ripe! A day shy of good and ripe is best for cobblers. For those whose sense of smell has faded a bit or who, like my friend Elaine, never had it, you are fortunate if you have a friend who'll use hers/his in your stead.

I felt really sorry for my friend, Elaine, until I considered how many stinky diapers she changed for her four boys. Wink
 
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
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Last year the birds got all but 4 or 5 of the fruit on my peach, nectarine and plum trees. This year, because of a late snow and high winds I have no fruit on my plum tree, only 4 nectarines and 8 peaches. I sprayed them with "Rejex-it" which is supposed to keep birds away. We'll see how well that works.
 
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Good news and bad news. The Rejex-it worked well. Most of the fruit is untouched. One or two have a few peck marks. The bad news is that it seems impossible to wash the Rejex-it off the picked fruit. Back to the drawing board.
 
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Have you tried a veggie wash? Just google "homemade veggie wash" and there should be several recipes. Works for me!
 

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"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence."  David Ben-Gurion

 

S.W. Ga., zone 8b but acts more like zone 9

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