By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Peach tree leaf curl is one of the most common disease problems affecting nearly all peach and nectarine cultivars. This fungal disease affects all aspects of these fruit trees, from blossoms and fruit to leaves and shoots. Learning about peach leaf curl symptoms is a crucial step in the treatment or control of this disease.
Peach Leaf Curl Symptoms
Signs of peach leaf curl usually appear within two weeks following leaf emergence. Symptoms of peach tree leaf curl include leaf curling and discoloration. Leaf color may be yellow, orange, red or purple. There may also be deformed reddish-colored warts on the leaves. Later leaves may turn gray or powdery looking.
Fruit may also become infected, developing raised wart-like growths. Infected fruits often drop prematurely.
Peach leaf curl can also affect new twigs and shoots. New twig tissue becomes swollen while affected shoots become thick, stunted, and die.
Peach Leaf Curl Treatment
While treatment of peach leaf curl is not always effective once symptoms occur, the disease is fairly easy to prevent. Applying a fungicide spray in autumn following leaf fall or just before budding in spring can usually stop peach leaf curl.
While a single treatment in fall is usually sufficient, areas prone to wet weather may require an additional treatment in spring. Infections are greater following rain, as spores are washed into buds.
Fungicides for Peach Leaf Curl
Controlling peach leaf curl with fungicides is the only way to prevent this disease. So what are the most effective fungicides for peach leaf curl? The safest and most effective fungicides available to home gardeners are fixed copper products. These may be listed as ‘metallic copper equivalent’ or MCE on product labels. The higher the MCE, the more effective the fungicide will be. Other less effective fungicides include lime sulfur and copper sulfate.