Say you have a gorgeous 5-year-old nectarine tree. It has been growing well and flowering but, unfortunately, you get no fruit. Since it does not have any obvious diseases or insect pests, why is the nectarine tree not fruiting? There are quite a few reasons for a fruitless nectarine tree. Read on to find out how to get fruit on nectarine trees.
The most obvious starting point is looking at the age of the tree. Most stone fruit trees don’t bear fruit until year 2-3 and, in fact, it’s a good idea to remove the fruit if they do to allow the tree to put all its energy into forming solid bearing branches for future crops. Since your tree is 5 years of age, this probably isn’t why the nectarine tree isn’t fruiting.
Another reason for a lack of fruit may be the number of chill hours the tree needs. Most nectarine varieties need 600-900 chill hours. Depending upon where you live, the tree may not receive enough chilling hours to set fruit.
Yet another reason for a fruitless nectarine tree may be excessive tree vigor. While this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, it certainly can impede fruit production. This typically occurs when the tree is getting excessive amounts of nitrogen. It may not have anything to do with how you are fertilizing the tree, but if the nectarine is near grass and you fertilize the grass, the roots may be taking up copious quantities of nitrogen resulting in a lush plant with no fruit.
To resolve the situation, don’t fertilize the lawn within 5 feet (1.5 m.) of the spread of the tree’s canopy. You may need to do a soil test on occasion to pinpoint exactly when and how much fertilizer the tree needs.
Hand in hand with fertilization, is over pruning. Over pruning will signal the tree to grow and so it will. If you’ve had a less than judicious hand when pruning the tree, it may have responded by going on a growth spurt, sending all its energy into producing limbs and foliage, rather than fruit.
Frost damage may be the culprit for a lack of fruiting. Once the flower buds begin to swell, they are susceptible to frost. You might not even notice the damage. The flowers might open as usual but they will be too damaged to set fruit.
In this case, be sure to always site trees on the most frost free area of your landscape, those near the house or slightly elevated. Be sure to select cultivars that are suited to your region and hardiness zone.
Finally, apparently sometimes you get a dud. Sometimes trees are sterile. Then the question is whether you want to keep the tree for its beauty or replace it with one that will fruit.
First of all, select the correct cultivar for your USDA zone and microclimate. Contact your local extension office. They can supply you with pertinent information for your area. Situate trees in the most frost free area of the landscape, never at a low point.
Don’t use insecticides when the tree is in bloom lest you kill off all the beneficial honeybees. Keep an eye on fertilization, especially lawn fertilization near nectarines. Keep it at least 5 feet (1.5 m.) away from spread of the tree’s canopy.
Cool it on the pruning. Only remove dead and diseased limbs and those that cross over each other. How old is your tree? Remember, nectarine trees don’t fruit, or very minimally, until they are 3-4 years old. You may have to be a little patient until your tree has matured when it will reward you with a bumper crop of juicy nectarines.
The first step in the pruning process is to wait until late spring or the summer following the winter the damage occurred. This will give you time to assess the damage. In addition, freeze-damaged trees occasionally put out a false start of new growth in the early spring which soon dies back. Delaying pruning until after this occurs will save you time and energy.
When pruning always remember to prune living wood, ideally at crotches, to ensure that you cut away all of the damage. In the case of young trees that have been banked, the tree may survive and put out a new top even if you have to cut away all the wood above the bank.
In very severe cases, a citrus tree may be damaged all the way to the ground. In such cases, the root area may still put out new growth and the tree may, in time, recover. However, if the original tree was a graft and the tree is killed off below the bud, any resulting new growth will be of the variety of the rootstock and not of the graft or scion. It will be up to you to decide whether to re-graft, allow the rootstock to continue growing or start again.
The above images have been reproduced from Fact Sheet HS-120, a series of the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: June 1992. Reviewed: June 1994.
Leaves, once infected, cannot be cured during the same growing season. Once the disease is detected steps must be taken to prevent re-infection the following growing season. In the initial season that the disease is identified, spray the tree with the Fruit Tree, Vegetable & Ornamental Fungicide. Repeat the spray about 21 days later. The mid-season spray will not prevent or cure the disease, but is designed to reduce the fungal load for repeated infection and to prevent the spread to other healthy trees.
To repeat infections the following season, spray the entire tree twice (in the fall, after leaf drop and in the early spring, before bud break) with the Fruit Tree, Vegetable & Ornamental Fungicide. To improve the effectives and adhesion to the tree, when spraying the fungicide, mix wit with the Nature's Own Spray Helper.