Scott Korcz writes in and adds some photos about a problem with his ‘Harvester’ peach tree this spring. Here are the photos he supplied
You can see that Scott has a good mulch layer down to conserve moisture and eliminate weed competition, but this tree has a couple of problems going on. First, this tree is showing classical symptoms of insufficient chilling. These trees should grow out of this during the summer, but the lack of lateral budbreak will need to be addressed in the next dormant pruning.
Also have some nutrient deficiencies going on here. These trees need nitrogen. The general yellow color of the older leaves tells us its time to add a little N. With a wood chip mulch, it will be important to water it in well so the nitrogen travels through the chips and down into the root zone where it is available to the plant. I also see both iron and zinc deficiency on the newer foliage. Iron chelate applied to the soil and watered in well will overcome the iron problem, but the zinc problem is a little tougher to deal with on peach trees. Zinc sulfate can be applied to the soil and watered in, but tends to get tied up pretty quickly in the soil, so frequent applications may be needed. Zinc sulfate should not be sprayed on peach trees- it will defoliate them. Over time, as the mulch breaks down, natural chelates will be formed in the soil and this should be less of a problem. Just another reason to mulch your trees!