The Integrated Pest Management Centers reported in 2003 that Texas produces more than 2 million pounds of peaches annually, making it one of the nation's leading peach production states. With so many peach trees, however, there is an increased risk of fungal disease that often threatens the peach tree's production levels.
Types of Fungal Diseases
Peach trees throughout the state of Texas are exposed to many fungal diseases. Peach tree fungal diseases that are especially common in all areas of Texas include peach leaf curl, brown rot and peach scab. Although all peach trees are susceptible to fungal diseases, Texas A&M University Extension explains that peach trees grown in the less humid West Texas area encounter fewer diseases.
Fungal tree diseases develop on decomposing, dying and previously infected debris, stumps and trees. These fungal diseases germinate on these areas, mostly during the humid summer months, and then lie dormant during the winter months. In the early spring, the infectious fungal spores are transported by wind and rain onto the developing peach trees. Newly developing branches, stems, foliage and fruit are mostly targeted by fungal diseases. Still, all areas of the tree can be infected.
Peach trees experience an array of symptoms from fungal diseases. Though these symptoms vary by disease type, some of the most common symptoms include leaf curl, wilt, premature defoliation, growth stunt, branch and twig dieback and the development of cankers and fungal mushrooms. Like many trees, vigorously growing peach trees are more resistant to fungal disease and may carry the disease for some time before showing symptoms. While not every fungal disease is detrimental and life-threatening, weakened and stressed peach trees can be easily overwhelmed and killed by a fungal disease.
The process of preventing and controlling fungal diseases in Texas peach trees begins with selection. You should select a tree that is resistant to the common diseases within your location. Trees that are planted in poorly ventilated areas become more susceptible to disease. Therefore, it is important that you plant your peach tree in a manner that promotes increased air circulation. Peach trees should be pruned annually to remove any diseased or dying branches or foliage. Since fungal diseases thrive in dying and decomposing matter, it is important to keep the peach tree's area free of matter and defoliated debris. The Texas A&M University Extension also recommends that peach growers apply a regimented fungicidal treatment to peach trees to reduce, if not prevent, the potential of fungal infections.
Improperly scheduled chemical treatments can be ineffective, if not damaging, to the peach tree. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service assists commercial and residential growers in identifying the peach tree disease and in establishing a proper chemical treatment schedule for their individual area. The extension service has at least one office in each county within the state.