Peach Trees and Irish Potatoes

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  5/1/2018 12:40:15 PM

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News article for April 30, 2018

Fruit trees make a great addition to your landscape. They can provide a source of fresh fruit for consumption and for making jams and jellies as well.

Peaches are a high maintenance fruit tree to grow, but are desirable for their delicious fruit. They do not like to grow in low areas or wet soils and will get root rot if left in areas that do not drain well. Another part of being high maintenance is their need to be sprayed weekly to keep diseases and insects from damaging fruit.

If you want those big juicy peaches, another management practice that you will have to implement is thinning. I know how hard it is to voluntarily remove the immature fruit that you worked so hard to produce. If you want 3-4 inch peaches, you must thin. If you do not thin, you will get lots of very small peaches, so small that you will not want to give them to your friends.

Recommended spacing for peaches is one fruit about every 8 inches. This is not easy to accomplish up in a tree. Unless you have a very small tree, it is not easy to pick off the fruit in order to accomplish this ideal spacing.

Peach producers have a very sophisticated tool, known as a rubber hose that they use to hit branches and knock off peaches until they get approximately the proper spacing. I know that you will feel pretty ridiculous out there whacking your tree with a rubber hose, but it can be therapeutic and it is better than picking. You need to accomplish thinning prior to the pit turning hard inside the peach for it to be effective.

A major concern for many is reducing their fruit volume by thinning. In general, a mature tree can hold about 800 peaches. If you pick 2 inch peaches it takes 293 peaches to fill up a bushel. If you increase your size to a 2½ inch peach, it only takes 159 peaches to fill that bushel. Once you increase your size to a 3 inch peach, it only requires 98 peaches to make a bushel.

As you can see, by thinning you can increase your yield more dramatically through increased peach size than you can by having more peaches on the tree. In addition, you are producing a more desirable high quality product, which you would be proud to give to your friends.

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We are also getting to the time of deciding when to harvest Irish potatoes. In general, it takes 90-120 days from the time that you plant seed potatoes to harvest. The real test of maturity is to get the potatoes mature enough that the skin will not rub off.

The only way you can tell when the skin is set is to dig a few potatoes and see if the skin will not rub off. Start sampling at about 90-100 days after planting. Immature potatoes can be eaten even if they are feathering (skin slips off easily by rubbing your thumb over the skin). Those feathering potatoes are usually called “new potatoes” and they go well with snap beans and boiled crawfish.

Once you establish that your potatoes are ready to harvest, you can cut the vines 10-14 days before digging to reduce skinning during harvest.

Irish potatoes should be stored in a cool dark place with high humidity.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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