Peach tree not leafing out??

luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)April 21, 2012

I have 5 PF24 3 year old trees that produced a lot of nice peaches last year. All of the peach trees have blossomed out and I covered them about 4-5 times during the cold nights that we had this spring. Yesterday, I noticed that one tree looks different than the others, not leafing out as much. There are some leaves, but just not as many as the other trees. Any idea what's going on? What do I look for to identify the cause? Thanks Luke

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hard frost or freeze.. affecting only ONE TREE???


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:47AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Check for borers... That is a good sign that they have dug in the trunk of your tree and killed it. I had one tree this year already that leafed out, but just barely...after moving around some soil i saw the tell tale sign (hole/frass/wood dust)...I ended up chopping it down.

The female lays eggs in the summer at the base of the tree and they go from there.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:59AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I went out and checked for signs of peach tree borer and didn't find anything unusual. I now have 2 trees that are showing signs of not leafing out as usual. The leaves are also turning yellow. The buds on all of my peach trees didn't have a petal fall and the blossoms just turned brown and still hanging on. I opened a couple of the blossoms on healthy trees and there was the makings of a small peach the size of a pea. The tree in question, was showing no sign of life in the blossom. So, the mystery continues. Should I try to fertilize to save the tree?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:36PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

This happened to my pluot. Could we have done something wrong when spraying?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 2:03AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I have no idea why these trees are dying. They were fine during blossom and looked like the other trees. Now they are mostly without leaves and the blossoms are dried up and appears to be dead. I have 16 peach trees and the others seem to be ok. I covered all of the trees during our cold nights this spring. This seemed to happen suddenly. I sprayed budding and blossom with Monterey Fungi Fighter and Seven. I pruned earlier this spring, because we went into spring about a month earlier than usual. I gues that at this point should I pull them or is there anything that I can do to save them? I'd appreciate any ideas. Thanks

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:54AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I don't know if this helps you, but here a rapid decline in peach trees is generally because the roots have stayed too wet.

Spring rains saturate the soil killing the fine root hairs of peaches. Without the root hairs it's difficult for the peaches to take up the nutrients and water they need. The problem is compounded as the summer heats up and soils become dry. The peaches don't have the root structure to pull water from the dry soil.

All this weakens the tree and it dies fairly rapidly.

This may not be at all what's happening in OH, but it's very common here for trees planted on flat ground in clay based soil.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:05AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Olpea, Thanks for yor input, but it doesn't sound like our conditions here in NE Ohio. Im convinced that our unusual spring weather has something to do with my problem, that now includes two trees. We had temps. that went from 80deg. to 27deg. on 5 different occasions. I covered all of my trees, with the help of neighbors, but maybe this wasn't enough for these two trees. Hopefully, there just shocked and will come back. Being optimistic here. Thanks all.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:38AM
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blackrag(6A East PA)

What Olpea described is what I believe happened to 1 of my 6 2 year-old (in the ground from bareroot) Sunglo Nectarines. 5 leafed, flowered and have set fruit. Up until last week the one never woke up. I scraped back bark on a couple spots and it was green. I pulled the tree out and found that the root system was at least 1/2 the size of the pruned canopy. Wet feet and was rotting out. (It is not as if it has been a wet spring here, because up until last week, it was dry as a bone. This happened in another spot for me 2 years ago with a peach. Since then, I have tended to plant higher and "mounding" than when I started. In those 2 rows 1 out of 26 trees were effected this way. (I have 4 rows) There are spots in my planting area that have heavier soil than others. Unfortunately, I learn the hard way. The only reason I pulled that tree is that I didn't want to lose another growing season at that spot waiting for fruit. I have had whacky weather here as well. In fact, I had a frost scare last night that has me worried. I will check that out later.
For what it's worth. Chad

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 10:13AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Opea and blackrag, I've been thinking about your possible cause of my peach trees suddenly dying. I dug 6 post holes a few days ago and went through about 1 1/2 feet of top soil then hit really solid, very tough to dig soil. We had a very wet spring last year. Could the damage to the small root hairs been done last spring and carried over to this season?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:18AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I would say it's probable wet feet is the problem, especially since you've discovered a sort of hardpan a foot and a half down.

I agree with Blackrag, the degree of water saturated soil can vary tremendously on one site. On many occasions, I've had trees die from too much water, where 20' away the trees were fine.

I suspect the reason for this is that it doesn't take much root structure to keep a tree alive. I once read it only takes 20% of a peach trees root structure to keep it hydrated, as long as the 20% is in moist soil.

If you can get your soil up even 1' on any replacement trees, that should help. Most of the peach trees planted die around here (lasting anywhere from 1-4 years) because people plant them at ground level. Trees planted on even a small gradual rise tend to make it. When I planted my first peach trees, those were mostly the ones that made it.

My neighbor behind me planted a peach tree on a natural rise and it's doing well. He even has grass growing right up next to the trunk and it's still very vigorous and healthy.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:40AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Olpea, I appreciate your input, although it's a hard pill to swalow. I have 10 peach trees left and hopefully some will survive. I intend to replace the peaches with apples. I have 15 apple trees ranging from 1 to 3 years and 7 were planted last week. Will the apple trees be prone to the same demise? Just when I thought I had it all figured out. dang it! Luke

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:17PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


You could lose more peach trees, hopefully that's not the case. You may not lose any more at all.

As they get older note how much growth they put on in a season. Young peach trees almost always put a lot of growth on, but older trees under stress will put on very little growth. If you have relatively fertile soil and see a lot of 6" shoot extension, or 1' extension of some of the longer shoots, it's a sign that tree's in trouble.

Apples tolerate much wetter soils than peaches. Apples will pretty much grow in anything except a bog. Plums will also tolerate wet soils, as do pears.

Apricots (on manchurian) die twice as fast as peaches on wet soils, so don't try apricots where you've had trouble with peaches.

Sounds like you've got a nice orchard going. Once even half of those peach trees really start producing, they will bury you in fruit.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:46PM
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blackrag(6A East PA)

"Apples tolerate much wetter soils than peaches."

Luke, in my case this has proved true. The only trees I have had to replace due to this issue really were nectarines. I have not lost any apples and the peaches/plums are at a slightly higher elevation. In hindsight, maybe I should have reversed planting locations.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:01AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

OK, well, I'll just play it as it comes. Thanks again. I appreciate your help. luke

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:08PM
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