Peaches, prized for their fruit, live only a short time because of disease susceptibility. Lifespans may be as short as three to seven years, according to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural Science. Often peach trees enter winter dormancy with no outward signs of distress, but come spring the tree begins a quick decline that eventually leads to death. Diseases that affect these fruit trees in winter may work alone, but more often several factors lead to the tree's death.
While not always fatal, bacterial canker often occurs in conjunction with winter cold damage, resulting in death. The canker affects the tissue in the trunk and doesn't damage the roots. Leaf buds form normally in spring, but soon after bud break leaves begin curling and dying along the affected branches. Bark may appear water-soaked in the infected areas with brown streaks forming along the trunk beneath the bark. Severely infected branches or entire trees collapse and die by the end of summer.
Cytospora fungus infects peach trees with another canker disease. While not fatal on its own, this canker speeds the destruction caused by winter damage and bacterial canker problems already present in the tree. Cytospora overwinters in the tree, attacking any parts of the tree suffering frost damage. It does not infect healthy wood. Bark becomes discolored, then later becomes sunken as the cankers form. Orange tendrils may ooze from the cankers as the fungus produces spores. Cytospora does not infect healthy, undamaged trees.
Peach scab is a fungal disease. Infections don't appear until fruit formation begins, though the scab fungus attacks trees first in winter. Scab injury results in discolored spots on fruit and later causes fruit to crack. Lesions form inside the twigs and branches supporting the fruit, which cause the branches to die if left untreated. Pretreating trees with fungicidal sprays and practicing proper fall pruning practices helps prevent scab problems.