Greetings. I live in Ecuador and run a non-profit work. I've planted 15 peach...
Greetings. I live in Ecuador and run a non-profit work. I've planted 15 peach trees that I purchased form the Ecuadorian Department of Agriculture nurseries. We are on the equator but are at 9,500 ft in elevation. Average temp is around 68 f year year round. The coldest temps will drop to mid 40's at night. I have never seen a frost here but I'm told it has happened. Since we are on the equator, we do not have 4 seasons. According to the agricultural engineer I visited with here, he says they will grow but with much care. We are right at the highest limit for recommended growing elevation. The concern is that it is too cold for them to do well. So my question, any advice on how to insure that the peach trees will flourish? I've considered covering the saplings with loose transparent plastic bags to help them stay warmer during this first year or so. I really don't know if that will help. Any suggestions to help keep them warmer? I don't know what variety of peach it is. There are typically on a couple of varieties here in Ecuador, it's not like in the States.
If your temperature range is generally 45 F-68 F, then you'll have trouble growing peaches, but not because it's too cold. Peaches actually need a certain amount of "chilling hours"- temperatures between 32F-45F to initiate flowering. If they don't get the required number of chilling hours, there will be no flowers and thus, no fruit. So the problem you're likely to face is not that it is too cold, but rather too warm, at least on the low end of your temperature range.
I'm not sure about the availability of varieties in Ecuador, you mention there are only a few, but I imagine the ones that are grown there have a very low chilling requirement and have been chosen for that reason. The plants themselves should grow fine in that temperature range, so I don't think you'll need to do anything drastic to protect them, although you may need to provide a wind break of some sort since you are at high elevation. Other than that though, I think your primary concern should be the flowering and fruiting, and there isn't much you can do to control that.
Thank you for your response. If I understand correctly, the tree will grow but will likely not flower or produce fruit because it's too warm.
My in-laws lived in Africa for 23 years. They said there was a similar issue there. One of the ways that the growers got around that problem was to burn the branches, probably once a year. This would essentially trick the tree to enter a 'hibernation' period or it's winter dormancy. Have you heard of this happening yourself? I don't know any other details just what they told me. Also, what would you suggest for a wind break?
I haven't heard of the branch burning technique before, so I can't tell you if that would work or not. I suppose it's possible that this could trick the tree into behaving differently. As far as a wind break, a row of any tough medium to tall sized shrubs or small trees around the perimeter of the fruit trees will help reduce the intensity of the winds on the trees themselves. In my area of the US we use hollies or cypress, but I'm not sure what type would work best in Ecuador.