Growing peaches in your backyard can be very rewarding, but it also requires plenty of attention to detail. In particular, you should keep a close eye on your peach trees for signs of diseases. If diseases are left untreated, they may threaten your peach harvest and the health of your trees. Here is a look at three common peach diseases, their symptoms, and how to best treat each one.
Description: Brown rot is a fungal disease that can lead to the loss of an entire crop of peaches. It is easily spread from tree to tree through wind and insect vectors.
Symptoms: Brown rot causes small cankers on the tree's larger branches, blight of twigs, and most notably, brown rotting spots on the fruit. The first signs of the condition are generally noticeable in early spring, when the blossoms turn brown and become covered with a tan spore mass.
Treatment: Treat brown rot by having cankers professionally removed from the tree, and by having heavily affected branches trimmed away. Removing all of the fruit from the tree in the fall, and beginning regular fungal spraying early in the next spring, can prevent the disease from thriving in the following season.
Description: Peach scab is caused by a fungus, and it's particularly common in the mid-Atlantic region. It can affect all peach varieties, as well as nectarines and apricots.
Symptoms: The primary symptom of the disease is the appearance of spots on peaches. These spots are initially green, but they slowly turn black as the fungus begins to release its spores. The skins of the peach may crack, and as the disease progresses, ulcers may appear on the tree's smallest shoots.
Treatment: Treatment is most effective when begun at the first sign of peach scab. Trees should be sprayed with fungicide every 10 - 14 days, and pruned to increase air movement through the branches.
Description: Caused by a mycoplasmic organism with characteristics of both bacteria and viruses, peach yellow is passed from tree to tree by leafhopper insects. The secret to preventing the disease is keeping leafhoppers off of trees through use of insecticides or other insect control methods.
Symptoms: The fruits of trees with peach yellow ripen prematurely, but when picked they have a bitter taste. The leaves on the bases of branches may also wither and fall off.
Treatment: If not all branches are affected, removing the afflicted branches may prevent the spread of the condition to the rest of the tree. Applying antibiotics such as oxytetracycline to the tree will help fight the disease, but will not preserve the fruit from the current season.
Preventing peach tree diseases is often a lot easier than treating them. By having your peach trees pruned each spring by professionals like those at Pete & Ron's Tree Service, and by spraying them regularly with fungicides and insecticides, you reduce their risk of developing any of the conditions described above.