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What's Wrong With My Peach Tree?

The Cooperative Extension office has been receiving inquiries about peach leaf curl the last several days.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. –

The Cooperative Extension office has been receiving inquiries about peach leaf curl the last several days.

            This fungal disease can be identified early in the year when leaves first emerge. Young leaves are arched and reddened, or paler than normal as they emerge. They then become curled, puckered, and distorted. Any portion of the entire leaf may be curled, and one or all leaves from a bud. Leaves may drop if infection is severe, therefore, lowering vitality of tree. Defoliation for several seasons will kill trees.

            The source of infection is from ascospores of conidia formed during the growing season and lodged on the buds, tree limbs, or branches. The spores remain in these locations during the summer, fall, and winter, and infect the new leaves the following spring.

            Conditions that favor peach leaf curl spore development are temperatures of 50 to 70 degrees and extended periods of rain.

            The disease is easy to control with one dormant season spray of a fungicide such as a Bordeaux mix, chlorothalonil (Daconil), copper, calcium polysulfides or copper octanoate. This is best applied just before the buds swell (end of February in Baxter County), but can be done any time after leaf fall as long as the temperature is above freezing. Applications after buds swell have little effect, so it is imperative to not wait too late.

            Unfortunately there is nothing we can do this year, the fungus doesn’t have a summer stage. The plants will eventually grow out of this. To maintain vigor where leaf curl is severe:

 •          Thin fruit heavily to reduce the demand on the remaining leaves.

•          Reduce drought stress by periodic irrigation.

•          Apply a nitrogen fertilizer. Carefully control the amount of fertilizer so that the trees are not over-stimulated.

             For more information on peach leaf curl or other fruit diseases, contact the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office at 425-2335.

By Mark Keaton
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mark Keaton
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
3 East 9th St. Mountain Home AR 72653
(870) 425-2335
mkeaton@uaex.edu

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