Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease Taphrina deformans and is one of the most common diseases faced by gardeners growing peaches, ornamental flowering peaches, nectarines, and almond trees, especially in moist areas.
Identifing peach leaf curl and damage in your trees
Peach leaf curl can be identified by the severely distorted, reddened foliage - easily seen in spring when new shoots, leaves and flower buds emerge. In rare cases affected areas of fruit become corky and tend to crack.
Infected developing leaves will turn yellow to grey as the spores are produced on the surface, and later, fall off; a second set of leaves are produced to replace the first set and will develop more normally unless wet weather continues.
Peach leaf curl can result in the substantial loss of leaves and crop of a single year. Furthermore, the loss of leaves and the production of a second set stunts tree growth and decrease fruit production.
Preventing and controlling peach leaf curl
Unfortunately, once symptoms occur, treatment of peach leaf curl is not always effective, however, disease prevention is fairly easy.
- Select resistant varieties where possible.
- If your trees are losing its leaves, feed with a nitrogen fertilizer like a 10:5:5 or similar. Ensure the ground beneath is raked up and clean to encourage hygiene.
- Once your tree is infected, the spores will overwinter in nooks and crevices so treatment is best done during the dormant season.
- Spray your trees with sulfur or copper-based fungicides in autumn following leaf fall or just before budding in spring.
- Areas prone to wet weather may require additional treatment in spring. Infection is greater following rain as spores are spread into buds.