Protecting peach and nectarine trees from leaf curl
Leaf curl is a fungal disease which affects peaches and nectarines.
If your trees experienced this disease last year you may want to consider protection and prevention.
What is it?
Leaf curl is a disease caused by Taphrina deformans in early spring. It creates misshapen and deformed leaves which die and fall off, then new leaves sprout. The disease is stored in the buds and twigs over winter which means infection occurs when new leaves begin to shoot in spring. Wet weather and cooler spring temperatures all support a more severe infection. This generally only occurs in spring as the disease is temperature dependant and once temperatures reach around 25C they fungus stops reproducing.
Although it does not really harm your tree it does stress your tree causing it to produce less fruit. It may inhibit growth and leave your tree more vulnerable to attack from other pests and diseases due to it being stressed. If you tree is young, the stress may in fact kill your tree. The disease generally becomes worse each year if left untreated.
Your fruit can also become infected by the fungus. It will have patches of red, rough skin. It may fall off by itself but if it does not, it is best to remove those fruit once you notice they are infected and destroy them as you would other disease infected fruit.
Ensuring your tree is well watered, the soil has plenty of organic matter and fertiliser of your choice goes a long way to supporting the health of your tree.
Like with all your fruit trees, it is important to monitor what is happening. Check the tree during late winter for budswell. If you have various varieties, remember they will swell at different times generally.
When you notice budswell it is now time to spray some Bordeaux mixture or lime sulphur (some folks use vinegar and water, or copper) depending on your preference. Then it is important to spray again 7-10 days later. You should also spray in autumn when all the leaves have fallen from the tree.
Bordeaux, copper and lime sulphur are all acceptable on organic farms. You do not need to down your tree in the spray. Just lightly spray the buds. Perhaps use a different one each year and see which works best for you.
Once your tree shows symptoms of leaf curl it is too late to do anything this season.
You can purchase varieties which are more resistant to leaf curl.
Protecting peach and nectarine trees from leaf curl By Melissa Fogarty
Images of leaf curl are from Wikicommons