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Does my peach tree have leaf curl, or something else bad?  RSS feed

 
Nicole Alderman
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A friend came over and was touring our garden and commented on our peach tree saying it had leaf curl. We have a Frost peach, which is supposed to be leaf curl resistant. But, I live in a wet area on a south-facing slope, so maybe it got it anyway? Or, maybe it got something else? Or maybe it's just fine?

Any ideas?

Thanks!

Here's some pictures. We've had the tree for two years now. It's first year, it gave us one peach. Last year it gave us two. It produced over 30 flowers this spring, with them opening up on March 24th and the last one dropping it's petals about two days ago. The leaves are all green, but have yet to open up yet.

Update: My Frost peach is doing pretty well, especially the upper branches. My sister-in-law, however, just gave me a sad little Springcrest Peach that IS infected with Peach Leaf Curl. See lasted post for more info. Thanks!
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The peach tree, planted two years ago.
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I pruned off a lot of sad-looking branches two days ago. Here
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Here
 
Dale Hodgins
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Limb die back can be caused by a number of environmental factors. Although caused by any number of diseases, it is usually only a problem if the tree is stressed in some way. Not enough sun, winters that are too cold, or soil issues can all cause this stress.

The spots might be canker disease.
 
Pat R Mann
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I'm also trying to grow peach in the PNW and am experiencing the same symptoms. The tree was super vigorous and healthy last year, now it's really sad looking. I blame it on the rain during blossom.
Definitely not curl; maybe brown rot or some other fungal infection.
I'm giving it a bit more time to see if it bounces back. If not, I think I'll replace it with a tree that does better in our wet spring climate.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Hmmm, Pat, last year was an uncommonly dry spring. I recall a lot of transplants suffering and needing to water my vegetable seeds almost everyday. This spring was much, much wetter (didn't we set records for rainfall?). Hopefully with the weather drying out, the peach tree problems will resolve themselves.

Would the best course of action for brown rot or other fungal problems be to prune out any sad/blotchy-looking branches during our next span of dry weather? Is there anything else I should be doing for this tree?
 
Patrick Mann
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Pruning for light and air penetration is always good. I'm removing the worst branches and hoping for the best.
The best prevention is keeping the rain off it, but that's hard to do.
 
John Saltveit
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Peaches are known as one of the most difficult of the common fruit trees to grow on the wet side of the PNW, along with apricots and nectarines. My trees look way worse than yours. Many experienced gardeners just refuse to grow those kind of trees. Others use toxic pesticides and end up eating a few peaches along with their toxic pesticides. Some cover their trees with a tarp from December 1 to March 1 to prevent them from getting peach leaf curl. Growing the tree in a plane, like an espalier is usually required for that. I use compost tea, which has so far been effective in combating the many diseases that peach trees get. I wasn't foolhardy enough to buy a peach tree, but I'm learning through growing a peach tree that grew out of our compost into the yard. So far, lots of work, but good enough.
john S
PDX OR
 
Dale Hodgins
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Several of my pruning customers are successfully growing peaches espaliered against a south-facing wall.

 Most are also under an overhang, so that the rain falling directly on them is reduced.

One of them places old windows, leaned up against the house, so that any rain falling toward  the soil by the tree, will be deflected.

Early blossoming can be an issue. Sometimes the peaches will bloom and they will not be adequately pollinated. Spring rains can also damage the blossoms.
 
David Livingston
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I see no leaf curl on those pics
 
Crt Jakhel
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No curl.

I once read something on gardenweb that stuck in my mind...

"You know, dear, peach trees in general are just not excited about life."
 
John Saltveit
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Thanks for the reminder, Dale. Many people here grow peaches under an overhang to the south, and many are successful.
John S
PDX OR
 
Nicole Alderman
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Thank you all for the replies! It's good to know that it isn't leaf curl, and that my tree is actually doing pretty well, all considering. Maybe it's helped by the fact that it is on a north-facing slope; perhaps having it bloom so much later than everyone else's tree's helps it from getting infected during bloom (it is also on the south side of my barn, though not against it, nor is there a way to build an overhang).

This next span of sunny, warm days, I'll go out there and prune out any more sad-looking branches and try to open up the airflow a little more.

John Saltveit wrote: I use compost tea, which has so far been effective in combating the many diseases that peach trees get.


Is there anything specific that you put in your compost tea? I've never made any before, but this seems like a good reason to. Would horsetail be helpful? I have lots of that... as well as morning glory and buttercup, ha!
 
John Saltveit
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Here is an article I wrote a few years ago for the Home Orchard Society newsletter.
John
Filename: YOU-CAN-MAKE-COMPOST-TEA.doc
File size: 25 Kbytes
 
Jeremy Mecham
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You could get a lot more peaches this year if you were to do some pruning. Our peach trees produced about 20 peaches each the 2nd year (last year) by strategic pruning in the spring.
 
Pat R Mann
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Jeremy, can you explain your strategic pruning approach a bit more? Since peaches only bear on last year's growth, I don't see how any pruning could result in more fruit in the same year - though it can stimulate growth that will result in more peaches the following year.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I'd also like to know, too! I'm thinking that perhaps the pruning allows more energy to go to the fruit, reducing the amount of peaches that "June Drop." I've had this tree for two years, and each year it made a LOT more blossoms than it did peaches, and of the blossoms that made it to becoming peaches, many of those dropped (I'd have 6 or 8 little peaches, only to have the tree ditch most of them and I get one or two peaches that year).

I'd love to know your technique, Jeremy. I'm new to pruning and would love any and all tips on getting more fruit production and a healthier tree. Thanks!
 
Hans Quistorff
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I posted this earlier in the spring pictures. I had three seedling peaches come up from the compost in my planter barrels before we moved to the farm. They stayed in the planters two winters in the greenhouse then I planted them out between the raspberries and the grapes. I had previously covered two sections of raspberries with hoop houses made from discarded portable garages. The next spring I started to find peach leaf curl and carfully pruned it out. That fall I was able to get another frame plus some longer pipe I already had and put this high tunnel across the ends of the other two all connected together.

This is the second year of them producing in the high tunnel. The smaller one closest to the camera is bearing this year for the first time. they all have a heavy set of fruit. I have mason bees in the tunnels. There were small branches near the bottom that turned black I pruned those and the ones that were crowding and crossing. I will have to prune them for height this fall to keep them from lifting the roof. But no peach leaf curl since they have been in the tunnel.
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Peach trees in carport frame high tunnel blooming
 
Nicole Alderman
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My sister-in-law just gave me her sad little Springcrest peach, which is definitely infected with leaf curl. I planted it a good 100 feet from my Frost peach, removed it's weeds and put my own weeds on it as well as duck bedding. Conventional wisdom says to spray in the winter (too late for that!) and to take off all infected leaves.

I'm worried, though, of taking too many leaves when it just went through transplanting. It's been a horrendously wet, cool spring (with no signs of changing soon). Should I try to rig a tarp structure over it? I plan on making some compost tea to coat it's leaves with. Is there anything else I should do? Should I pluck off and discard the infected leaves?

Thanks so much!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Finally got a chance to post pictures of the Springcrest peach tree my sister-in-law gave me.
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Here you can see the size of the tree. It's already leafing out, while my Frost peach just has blossoms.
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Close-Up of the leaves. The red blisters sure look like leaf-curl to me!
 
David Livingston
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This does look like leaf curl
But it's not too bad I have seen much worse .

David
 
Hans Quistorff
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I definitely recommend putting it under cover. If you go back a few posts you will see the results. I had to pick off a lot of leaves and cut back branches that showed damage. It struggled through the first summer but the next spring thee was very little damage.  The spores are carried by mist and splashing rain. they get into opening buds where they spread from cell to cell in the developing leaf.  This will be my third year of getting fruit and I have found no damaged leaves so far this spring.  The trees stay completely dry all year but the rain running off the uphill side soaks the ground under them.  I mulch with tall grass I mow from my field and put potatoes under the mulch With the greenhouse effect the potatoes are up now and will start to bloom soon. The peaches are finished blooming and starting to form fruit but the leaves are just starting to grow so will not shade out the potatoes before they are harvestable.  Note that the cover is over the frame of a portable garage that was damaged and given away free.
 
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