Growing Peach Trees in the Desert

Marge McDonald Peach Orchard Owner

APPLE VALLEY — Peaches litter the ground of the McDonald Peach Orchard, in Apple Valley, where owner Marge McDonald planted over 500 trees in 1996. Every year McDonald opens her peach orchard to the community to pick their own peaches. During a recent visit to the orchard, McDonald detailed how she was able to grow her orchard.

“My dad and mom had owned this property since 1949. Dad used to raise some alfalfa here and we had some cows and bulls and calves over in the barn area,” said McDonald.

Years later after McDonald and her husband purchased the farm from her parents, they decided to plant trees in honor of them since the land had become barren. They also felt the harvest could bring in a little income during retirement.

They purchased 504 peach trees that were two feet high. McDonald says the Pilgrim Peach is a very late peach — they don’t ripen until late September at the McDonald orchard. 

McDonald Peach Orchard

Tips on Growing Peach Trees

#1: Be rich to pay the water bills

McDonald says she has a 1949 water well that fed 15 acres of alfalfa. The well was deepened another 40 feet from its original 60 foot length. She says it’s an exorbitant amount of water that the peach tree needs. 

The trees have to be watered once a week during the warm months. During the winter once a month watering is fine. McDonald says the trees like a drip line that trickles water into the roots. She says to have it dripping for an hour or two but she drips water for 4-8 hours. 

#2 Start with two foot grafted trees

All of McDonald’s trees were little peach limbs grafted onto a peach, pear or plum stock. Grafting is a technique where tissues of plants are joined to continue their growth together. Trees grafted from vigorous rootstock will grow faster and develop quicker. 

#3 Put metal sheeting around the tree trunk to prevent rodents from eating fruits

McDonald says she has lost a lot of peaches this year due to ground squirrels — probably only half of her trees produce fruit. Metal sheeting wrapped around the trunk of the tree makes it difficult for rodents to climb up and eat the fruit.

McDonald also says she doesn’t use any chemicals or fertilizers — only water.

We thank God for every peach and every person that comes to buy a peach or help us pick.

Marge McDonald

For more information about McDonald’s Peach Orchard visit them online at