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Growing a nectarine tree

The nectarine is a cultivar group of peach that has a smooth, fuzzless skin. Though fuzzy peaches and nectarines are commercially regarded as different fruits, with nectarines often erroneously believed to be a crossbreed between peaches and plums, or a “peach with a plum skin”, they belong to the same species as peaches. Several genetic studies have concluded in fact that nectarines are created due to a recessive gene, whereas a fuzzy peach skin is dominant. Nectarines have arisen many times from peach trees, often as bud sports.
Nectarine trees are small to medium sized short-lived trees, only living for about 12years. They are often grafted onto other rootstocks, similar to apple trees, which controls maximum height. If left to grow on their own rootstocks, nectarines will reach a height of 8 to 20 feet. Most varieties are self-pollinating, therefore only one tree will need to be planted to obtain fruit, that is, Peach and nectarine cultivars do not require cross pollination and set satisfactory crops with their own pollen. A single peach or nectarine tree can, therefore, be expected to bear crops in the home landscape if flower buds or flowers are not killed by low temperatures.
Nectarines require full sunlight and should not receive shade from buildings or tall trees. The early morning sun is particularly important because it dries the dew from trees, thereby reducing the incidence of diseases. If the planting site does not get plenty of sun, then you can’t expect the best performance from the trees. If possible, select a site with a high elevation so that cold air can drain away from the tree on a cold night during bloom. The best site will have well drained sandy loam type soil. Peach or nectarine tree roots or rootstocks will not tolerate soils where water remains on or near the surface for more than one hour after a heavy rain.
Prepare the soil one to two years before planting so that soil pH, organic matter, and nutrient status can be modified for the production of high quality peaches and/or nectarines. Prepare a bed at least 5 to 6 feet in diameter by cultivating (spading) 10 to 12 inches deep and adding organic matter such as manure, leaves, grass clippings, and compost. Before planting, prepare the soil thoroughly by plowing or spading followed by disking or raking to smooth the surface. If you have not adjusted the soil pH to 6.5 previously, liming should be done before you prepare the soil so that the lime will be mixed throughout the planting area. When added to the surface and not plowed in, lime takes years to move down into the soil. Lime an area 10′ by 10′ where each tree is to be planted. Phosphorus also moves down through the soil slowly and should be incorporated along with lime before planting if soil tests indicate a need.
Plant your tree in the spring in the center of your prepared area. Keep the bud union 1 inch above the soil. Planting a peach or nectarine tree too deep in the soil can cause poor growth or death.
Pruning and training should be done in the year of planting and every year after to develop a strong, well balanced framework of scaffolds (a tree with a strong trunk and well positioned side branches), as well as to maintain the balance between vegetative growth and fruit production. Immediately after planting, prune the tree back to a height of 26 to 30 inches. Cut off all side branches to leave a whip (a shoot without lateral branches or with lateral branches removed) that is 26 to 30 inches tall. Although this may sound drastic, the best shaped open center trees come from those pruned initially to a whip. The principles used to develop the trees are used to annually maintain the size and shape of the mature tree. Remove low-hanging, broken and dead limbs first, then remove the vigorous upright shoots along the scaffolds. Lower the tree to the desired height by pruning the scaffolds to an outward growing shoot at the desired height.

Can you grow nectarines from seed ?
Nectarines can be grown from seed but they require a cold period to break the dormancy. The period is about 90 days of temps below 40 degrees. Plant the seed (free of fruit) in a pot about 1 inch deep. Place the pot in a plastic baggie, seal it and put it in the fridge for 90 days. Place back out ina warm area (70degrees F or better) and germination should occur in a few weeks or you can leave the pot outdoors for the winter making sure you keep the soil moist and the seeds will germinate in the spring.

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