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Leaf Curl

Taphrina deformans

Leaf Curl, Peach Leaf Curl

A close up of a flower
Taphrina deformans 1 by Giancarlo Dessì (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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Peach Leaf Curl is a fungal disease, causing abnormal growth in new spring leaves. The most commonly affected plants are peaches and nectarines, but almonds, apricots and other ornamental Prunus can catch the disease, too. The main symptoms are distorted growth with red blistering and white fungal spores on leaves. Ultimately, diseased leaves drop, resulting in sudden defoliation and loss in vigour. Taphrina deformans can dramatically reduce the amount of fruit that a tree can bear. It is often one of the most common diseases in domestic orchards.
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Identification

During the spring, reddish areas on developing leaves appear which then become thick and puckered which causes the leave to curl in on themselves and distort.

Growth factors

Wet weather.

Symptoms

Raised red areas on developing leaves
Leaves curing around thick puckered areas.
White fungal blooms on leaves
Leaves affected fall from the tree
Defoliation
Loss in vigour
Fruits affected less often

Biological treatment

Removal and destruction of infected material and treatment with a pyrethrin bio-fungicide.

Chemical treatment

Sulphur or copper-containing chemical fungicides (or the available equivalent.)

Lifecycle

The fungus overwinters in the cracks in bark and around buds and is spread during the Spring onto new hosts by the wind and rain.

Prevention

Plant resistant varieties. Removing dead material from around the base of the trees. Regular pruning to maintain vigour. Providing a rain sheet or shelter can provide effective protection for plants which climb and trail walls.

Affected plants

Peach

Prunus persica

Almond

Prunus dulcis

Nectarine

Prunus persica var. nucipersica

Apricot

Prunus armeniaca

A close up of some pink Prunus flowers

Cherry

Prunus spp.

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