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I think it's a peach tree if it matters. Most of the top branches are dead, as seen in the picture. The only live branches are sprouting very close to the gound. Is there any way to save it and get it be a normal tree, with a trunk and branches above, not branches sprouting so close to the ground?tree

  • You could try cutting the dead part off and hoping a new branch grows up from there again. As long as the dead part is there it'll probably prevent new growth in that direction. It might take a few years before you get a shoot growing upward, but it can happen, although it might not be as even as you're hoping. You could also try taking a cutting of it and starting a new tree, eventually. – Shule May 31 '15 at 4:51
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First of all, I'm going to explain a bit about what's probably happening. Peach trees, and for that matter most stone-fruit trees planted for production, are usually not grown on their own roots. If the tree was planted with the intention of getting fruit it's quite possible that the dead-looking part is a peach while the roots and bottom section of trunk are another stone-fruit. Possibly a plum as those seem to be the favored rootstock for stone-fruits.

Because the part above the graft (the scion) is bred principally for it's fruit-quality they often lack disease resistance or tolerance to other stresses the world throws at them. The part below the graft (the rootstock) is chosen for it's capacity for vigorous growth and resistance to anything that can go wrong. If the scion is doing poorly (or sometimes when it's doing fine) the rootstock will often produce it's own shoots (suckers) from below the graft point in an attempt to live even as the scion dies out. If the suckers are allowed to get established the rootstock may even begin shunting resources away from the scion to it's own branches, potentially starving the scion to death. This may be what is happening or has happened to your tree.

In order to try and recover the situation let's make sure the scion is dead. If you try to snap a small branch/twig off and it cracks like dry wood, it's dead. If it bends it might not be dead, but rather dormant because the rootstock is denying it water and nutrients. If the scion is dead there's nothing for it. You can either tear out the whole tree, remove the scion and let the rootstock grow up and see what you get, or remove the scion and try to get fresh grafts applied to the rootstock.

If the scion is still alive, you can chop off the suckers and the rootstock may begin to supply the scion again, saving the tree.

  • Agree totally - that tree was probably grafted onto a rootstock, the top grafted part is dead, but the rootstock isn't and that's what you've got growing, which you don't want. – Bamboo May 31 '15 at 11:00
  • Agreed, this is a remove and replace situation – kevinsky May 31 '15 at 15:56

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