The peach tree is a deciduous fruit tree with an average lifespan between 10 and 20 years. This sun-loving tree is cold sensitive and requires, at minimum, a semi-tropical climate to thrive. Even with the most ideal care, however, the peach tree is susceptible to several fruit diseases, some of which have fatal outcomes when left untreated.
Peach Leaf Curl
Peach leaf curl is one of the most common peach tree diseases. This fungal disease infects the newly developed shoots, flowers, leaves and fruit of the tree. An infected tree will usually show symptoms on its foliage first. The leaves will appear reddish, begin to thicken, then will begin to curl and distort. Much like the foliage, the other infected areas will become stunted and thick, begin to brown and eventually die. Deadened areas may drop or remain on the peach tree. Peach leaf curl can be controlled by pruning away infected areas and removing the debris from around the tree. All debris should be destroyed. Regular copper-based fungicidal treatments are also required to rid and prevent infection. Treatments should be applied in the late fall, after the final harvest. If left untreated, the peach tree will suffer irreversible damage.
Anthracnose is a classification for a specific group of fungi that include Marssonina and Discula fraxinea. This group of fungi attacks the foliage, flowers, stems and fruit of the tree, causing lesions and darkened areas. Symptoms of anthracnose include cankered areas throughout the tree, spots, dieback and deadened areas. Anthracnose is controlled with pruning and chemical control. However, nothing can provide complete control. All infected areas should be pruned away in the early winter after the tree has dropped its leaves. Apply fungicidal treatments in the early spring as the new growth begins to develop. Copper- and chlorothalonil-based fungicides are most effective for the anthracnose fungi.
Brown rot is a fungal disease that is common among peach trees. Like many fungal diseases, brown rot transmits onto the twigs, spurs, flowers and fruit of the tree. Infected peach tree symptoms include cankers, lesions and rot. The fruit of the tree quickly rots and the foliage wilts and dies. Brown rot develops on leftover fruits that remain on the tree during the winter season and germinate during the following spring. Fungicidal treatments must be used regularly during the growing season to maintain control of brown rot. Treatment includes regular pruning of the infected areas, removal of debris and chemical treatments for blight and rot. Consultation and assistance from a local horticultural specialist are recommended.