Establish and Evaluate a Two-Dimensional Peach Training System Using Three Different Peach Rootstocks and Three Different In-Row Spacings

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $5,030.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2026
Grant Recipient: Eckert orchards
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
james eckert
Eckert orchards


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal summary:

Peach growing systems and peach productivity have been stagnant
in Illinois. Labor costs in peach are high, and prices received
have not kept pace. The industry is small, with minimal in-state
extension and research support. Agronomy is king here. Projects
of this nature will not happen n Illinois without private effort.

Project objectives from proposal:

150 peach trees will be planted at in-row spacings of 4-5-6 feet,
with a 12 feet alley width for machinery and harvesting
operations. All peach trees are grafted on rootstocks; I will
use  Controller 6, Lovell, and Krymsk 86, each having a
different level of vigor. Standard commercial varieties will be
used. A three-wire trellis will be constructed, which serves as
both a training aid and support for fruit loads. Trees will be
trained  in a two-dimensional configuration along the wires.
Each planted tree will have from 4-6 vertical permanent leaders
spaced at two-feet intervals along the wire, each having the
capacity to hold 26-28 fruits. On an acre basis, there would be
1800 leaders, giving a crop potential of 500 bushels per acre.The
attached image shows the design .Using summer and dormant
pruning, the canopy width is held to 4-5 feet. What problems are
potentially solved? We can get more bushels (500?) of of more
highly colored and flavorful fruit by increased exposure to the
sun.  The narrow canopy increases this exposure, which can
also increase flowering of peach. Tree height can be more easily
controlled with dwarfing rootstocks and multiple leaders on each
tree planted. Height reduction in tree fruit always results in
less ladder work and smaller, lower horsepower machinery use.The
labor requirements for  pruning, fruit thinning, and
harvesting, the "big three" in labor, are all reduced in shorter
trees with thinner canopies..Clearly, all  the project
objectives cannot be reached in two years. What we can achieve in
two years is the ability to create a two-dimensional  canopy
and evaluate the rootstocks and tree spacings. The" right"
combination of rootstock and tree spacing can be elusive. The
last objective is to have good detail on establishment cost.
Currently, peaches are being planted at wider spacings without
trellis support. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.