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Home HortTechnology Long-term Effects of Peach Production Systems Evaluated
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Long-term Effects of Peach Production Systems EvaluatedKEARNEYSVILLE, WV--Peach producers can take advantage of a variety of cultural and genetic practices to create trees that can thrive in high-density production systems. Water management practices, groundcover and sod management, and the genetic development of peach varieties that feature columnar, or "pillar", growth habits have all been evaluated for efficacy in high-density peach production systems. A research team from the United State Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) designed a study to evaluate the interactions of pruning strategies, groundcover management, tree densities, and peach architecture combined in peach production systems.The long-term study, which assessed fruit yield and economic value, was published in HortTechnology.

The researchers studied the effects of cultivar or selection, vegetation-free area (VFA), pruning system (open center, central leader, and multiple leader), and tree spacing in eight peach production systems over 7 years. Data showed that high-density peach production (5 x 18 feet) and 8-foot VFA with either standard ('Loring') or pillar peach cultivars demonstrated significant horticultural and economic benefit compared with the traditional system. The use of sod management reduced pruning time and costs, but the reduction of crop load diminished net return.

"Our economic analysis indicated that high-density peach production can be economically viable compared with the traditional system, and pillar peach cultivars can contribute to the development of high-density systems," said author Michael Glenn.

Because the loss of yield potential is greater than the labor cost savings, the use of sod management did not appear to offer an economic advantage to reduce pruning costs. The researchers noted that the pillar trees in the study did not fill the allotted space in the orchard, noting that it is likely that higher densities of pillar trees could provide an economic benefit.

"Future development of high-density peach production should address further reductions of pruning costs in pillar peach types that might be attained by increasing density and pruning trees to maintain an 8-foot tree height instead of tree heights of greater than 8 feet," the scientists said. The study recommended the development of pillar peach types with larger fruit size to increase the net present value of high-density production systems.


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at


Original Article:

Long-term Effects of Peach Production Systems for Standard and Pillar Growth Types on Yield and Economic Parameters
D.M. Glenn, T. Tworkoski, R. Scorza, and S.S. Miller
HortTechnology 21:720-725. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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