Leaf Curl Disease

Leaf Curl

Learn how to identify and get rid of peach leaf curl using these time-tested, organic and natural techniques.

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A fungal disease that affects peaches and nectarines, leaf curl (Taphrina deformans) is one of the most common disease problems found in backyard orchards. Symptoms appears in spring as reddish areas on developing leaves. These areas become thick and puckered causing leaves to curl and distort. When severe, leaf curl can substantially reduce fruit production.

Disease fungi overwinter as spores (conidia) underneath bark, around buds and in other protected areas. Early in the growing season, during cool, wet spring weather, the spores infect new leaves as they emerge from the buds. Later, the fungus produces great numbers of new spores which are splashed or blown from tree to tree.

Leaf curl is most active at temperatures between 50-70˚F, but can occur at relatively low temperatures. In fact, cool weather is thought to extend the infection period because new leaves are growing slowly. Wet weather is necessary for infection.

Treatment

  • Select resistant varieties whenever possible.
  • Leaf curl can be controlled by applying sulfur or copper-based fungicides that are labeled for use on peaches and nectarines. Spray the entire tree after 90% of the leaves have dropped in the fall and again in the early spring, just before the buds open. For best results, trees should be sprayed to the point of runoff or until they start dripping.
  • Containing copper and pyrethrins, Bonide® Garden Dust is a safe, one-step control for many insect attacks and fungal problems. For best results, cover both the tops and undersides of leaves with a thin uniform film or dust. Depending on foliage density, 10 oz will cover 625 sq ft. Repeat applications every 7-10 days, as needed.
  • Keep the ground beneath the trees raked up and clean, especially during winter months.
  • Prune and destroy infected plant parts as they appear.
  • If disease problems are severe, maintain tree health and vigor by cutting back more fruit than normal, watering regularly (avoiding wetting the leaves if possible) and apply an organic fertilizers high in nitrogen.

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