Is this cold damage on peach tree?

sunnibel7 Md 7(7)March 23, 2013

My compost heap peach tree is still alive and getting ready to bloom. I've been looking for answer to this question since I pruned it a while ago, but can't find anything on the internet that looks quite like it. The tips of many branches have these spots that don't look right to me. Some of them it seems like the terminal bud has died. And some of the smallest branches seem dried out in a manner that reminds me of the way fig trees lose branches to extra cold weather. Here's a not very good picture of an affected branch. I'll try to get a better photo later, but it is difficult to take one with my ipad in this breezy weather. Cheers!

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

sunnibel:

I've looked at your picture several times and am not really sure what to say. Usually damage on branch tips is cold injury. If you were in zone 4-5 that would be the easy conclusion even if wrong. But in zone 7 MD cold shouldn't be the issue unless it was an unusual year and I don't think that's been the case.

On the other hand I'm not aware of any diseases that would cause tips to die. I don't think those spots are an issue if that's your major concern.

You might spray some copper but I'm not sure if it's still safe. Copper sprays can be toxic to growing tissues especially if the concentration is too high.

Maybe someone else can help now that I've broken the ice.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 6:26PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Major gratitude! It was an unusual year, with a very warm December/early January (my crocuses bloomed in early January, normally they bloom in early March) that suddenly got cold. So maybe the tree was thinking about breaking dormancy then too and got frozen? I may still try to get another picture, yesterday was busy, today there is snow (also unusual), but tomorrow might be doable.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 7:50PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Here is a slightly better picture, you can see the spots on the bark better and how the tip is dark and dry. I'm pretty satisfied with the diagnosis of freeze damage unless someone has a real strong opinion otherwise. Cheers!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 1:56PM
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TWAR1
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:08PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Sunnibel,

Like Fruitnut, I too was somewhat at a loss as to the dead shoots. It would seem strange for MD to have freeze damage on peaches.

My first thought at your photo was that perhaps the small shoots didn't get enough sun. Heavily shaded shoots will die like that on my trees. Other than that possibility, no idea.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 8:08PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Nope, full sun. What about the sudden freeze causing damage to branches that weren't really dormant? Possible? It really was abnormally warm in late December, then typically cold by late January.

Edit:TWAR1, it does look just like mine. I think your picture shows the spottiness better. You must not be too far from me, it has been another funny winter, yet nothing like the last funny winter.

This post was edited by sunnibel7 on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 21:45

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:41PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

If it is freeze damage, something in the soil or fruit growing culture is probably making the tree more susc. to freeze damage. It's not normal for trees to experience freeze damage in zone 7, even with a warm Dec. Did your January even get down to 0F?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:56AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hmmm, I don't think so, just the teens, though I live in a special spot that tends to be about 3-4 degrees colder than everywhere around us. That would only put us in the single digits, though. Here is a link to the January weather nearby. It actually went up and down a lot worse than I remembered.

What sort of soil/growing conditions would make a tree more succeptable to freeze damage than normal?

Here is a link that might be useful: January temps

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 4:55PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

sunnibel:

You had a couple big swings in temperature in January but nothing like out here on the high plains. In the last week we've had three nights mid 20s and now 75-80 the last three days. We get 50-60F swings EACH WEEK all winter. So far this month we've had a high of 82F and a low of 18F, during bloom. That knocks off all the fruit but won't cause any damage to the wood. I've grown fruit out here 40 years and haven't seen wood damage on peaches from cold weather.

That's zones 6 and 7. Coldest I've seen is -12F and no cold injury.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 6:40PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I agree with Fruitnut, I don't think it's winterkill.

Around here peach trees with poor drainage will collapse or sometimes enter a general state of decline with dead shoots like your picture. Other than that, I've got no clue.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 12:33AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hmmm, well drainage isn't a problem here, ever. Sandy loam and even after a hurricane surface puddles are gone within an hour or two of the rain ceasing. What about rodent damage to the roots? The voles here get around a lot above and below ground. So far, though it still doesn't sound like disease, but physical damage, so I will keep an eye on it and keep trying to puzzle it out.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:37AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

sunnibel7,

I found a site that discusses peach winter kill; how to identify and causes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Peaches In Climate Zone 5

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 10:15AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Thanks, milehigh! I especially like the page before the last with the blooming orchard and "You Can Do It!"

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 11:56AM
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