Peach Leaf Curl

    • Liquidambar and Japanese maple trees can’t be beat for fall color. Choose them now while you can see their bright colors.
    • Tree collards are delicious winter vegetables.
    • Rake and destroy leaves from fruit trees that were diseased this year.
    • Tie red raspberry canes to wires; prune to 1 foot above the top wire or wrap the canes around the top wire.
    • There’s still time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, but don’t delay. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are still available.

Protect Peaches from Peach Leaf Curl

Probably the most irritating thing about seeing the characteristic warty red leaves of peach leaf curl is realizing that it’s already too late to do anything about the disease.

Peach and nectarine trees generally grow quite well here, but many varieties are prone to a disease called peach leaf curl. When the tree leafs out in the spring, infected leaves quickly become blistered and distorted and turn yellow to reddish in color. Gradually these leaves drop from the tree and are replaced by a new crop of usually healthy leaves.

The production of two sets of leaves decreases the energy the tree can put into new growth and fruit production. If leaf curl is uncontrolled for several years, the tree will decline and need to be removed.

The fungus spores of peach leaf curl live over the winter in microscopic crevices on the tree and are ready to infect young leaves just as the leaf tips are exposed in the spring. Peach leaf curl is worst when we have wet spring weather, so it is always good to apply a preventative spray.

Timing of dormant sprays is very important. In northern California, apply a first spray about November 15, or when at least 90% of the leaves have fallen. The most effective spray for the home orchardist is a fixed copper fungicide, which comes in a powdered form.

A second application should be made in late December or January. The third, and very important spraying should be made just before the buds swell, usually in mid-February.

Full coverage of the tree is essential. Leaves developing from buds that are not covered by fungicide will probably become infected. For maximum control of peach leaf curl, spray trees thoroughly with a copper fungicide three times during the winter.

If you do not already have peaches in your orchard, you might consider planting the newer, curl-resistant varieties. ‘Frost’ peach and ‘Q-1-8 White’ peach are both highly resistant and ‘Indian Free’ peach is also very resistant.

Peach trees are worth growing in this area even if you do not get a crop every year. In a good year, a single tree may give you 200 pounds of luscious, juicy fruit. Take care of your peach and nectarine trees and look forward to bountiful, healthy crops of delicious, home-grown fruit.

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