Peaches are a favorite fruit of many, but growing a peach tree from seed is not the easiest or best way to add this fruit to your home orchard. Vegetative propagation is more common and reliable to ensure that the new tree has the desired characteristics, such as bloom time, disease resistance, cold-hardiness, and the color, size and flavor of the fruit.
The most common method of peach propagation is through budding. To successfully propagate, two things are needed: a scion, which is a piece of vegetation from an existing tree, and a rootstock. A rootstock can be grown from seed or purchased. The rootstock determines the size of the tree and the tree’s resistance to certain weather conditions. The scion is what determines the fruit’s characteristics, such as flavor, size and bloom time. When propagating, it is important to check compatibility with the rootstock and the variety to be propagated, maintain good sanitation, and select a scion that is at least one year old and comes from a disease-free tree with vigor.
T-budding is the most common type of budding. This involves making a T-shaped slit into the bark of the rootstock near the ground. A scion should be from the current season’s growth and reduced to a single bud. The bud is inserted into the slit made in the bark and sealed with a budding rubber or grafting tape. Growth, or sprouts, on the rootstock above the bud union should be removed, as the fruit will come from the scion, not the rootstock. After the budding process is complete, the tree can sense it’s been wounded and begins repairing the damage.
By Emily Morrow, WVU Extension Agent – Jefferson County