Plum mosaic virus was discovered in Texas in the early 1930s. Since that time, the disease has spread throughout orchards in the southern United States and certain areas of Mexico. This serious disease affects both plums and peaches, as well as nectarines, almonds and apricots. Mosaic virus of plum trees is spread from tree to tree by tiny peach bud mites (Eriophyes insidiosus). The virus can also be spread by grafting.
Unfortunately, there are no cures for mosaic virus of plums, but there are ways to prevent the disease from affecting your fruit trees. Thanks to strict quarantine programs, mosaic virus of plums is now relatively unusual. Let’s learn the signs and symptoms of plum mosaic virus and how to prevent the disease from infecting your trees.
Symptoms of Mosaic Virus on Plums
Plum mosaic virus shows up on the leaves, which are mottled with green, white or yellow blotches. The leaves, which are delayed, may also be crinkled or curled. Fruit of trees affected with plum mosaic virus are bumpy and deformed. They are unsalable and generally not good for eating.
There is no cure for mosaic virus of plums and infected trees should be removed and destroyed. The tree may live on for a few seasons, but the fruit is inedible. There are, however, ways the disease can be prevented.
How to Prevent Mosaic Virus of Plums
When you plant new plum trees, plant only virus-resistant cultivars.
Treat new trees with miticide. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, especially in terms of timing of spray and how much to use. Be sure the product is registered for use on fruit trees.
Often, mites can be controlled with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap spray at bud swell – just before blossoms begin to emerge. To protect bees and other pollinators, never spray miticide when the trees are in flower.
Water trees regularly. Mites are attracted to dry, dusty conditions.