Gracing Asian landscapes for over 2,000 years, peach trees (Prunus persica) produce tasty, nutrient-rich fruit. Peach trees prefer mild climates in which they’re not subject to frosts in winter or spring. Regardless of the climate, however, they need a careful watering schedule to maintain the appropriate amount of water and to develop optimal peach flavour.
Overwatering easily damages peach trees’ health, and may even kill the trees. Too much watering or incessant rains can lead to brown rot, a type of fungus. You can spray peach trees with fungicide even during the spring blooming season to prevent it — and the rainier it is, the more spray is necessary. When first planting peach trees, overwatering can also bog down air spaces in the soil, killing trees that are not yet established. First-year trees only need 5 to 10 gallons of water each week during the summer growing season.
Preparing the Soil
The first step in preventing overwatering is making sure the soil is well-drained. If mulching to conserve moisture — a smart idea if weather is hot — the mulch should be several inches from the tree trunk to prevent rot and insect infestations. Peach trees with mulch require less frequent watering.
A safe watering schedule for peach trees varies by season and climate. On average, mature peach trees require at least 36 inches of water per year. The University of California says that in the summer growing season, peach trees in mild climates need either daily drip irrigation or a major sprinkler spraying every three weeks. In hot weather, watering every week or two suffices. Except in drought conditions, the only time to worry about under-watering is when peaches start appearing, as they grow quickly and need lots of moisture in their first month, or they may end up small.
If you’re not sure how much to water your peach trees, remember that deep, infrequent waterings are healthier than frequent, shallow waterings, which just encourage trees to develop shallow root systems. Though the soil should remain moist at the root level 4 to 6 inches below the surface, the surface of the soil should dry between waterings. You can check the soil moisture by digging down this far with a shovel or even your fingers every few days.