Several Peach Problems

gtg81May 15, 2012

I'm having a few problems with some young peach trees this year. The trees have several dead limbs, the fruit is oozing some kind of clear stuff, there are holes in some of the limbs, and there seems to be a quite a few ants on the trees.

I've found white bugs bored into some small limbs, but they did not look like worms. Here are some pictures of the problems I've mentioned, along with a few others.

There are several of these dead limbs:

Not sure what this is:

Clear stuff oozing out of fruit:

Ragged-looking bark:

Hole bored into limb:

A few peaches look like this:

...and a handful look like this:

Can someone tell me what is causing these problems? I've never had peach trees before, so I'm unfamiliar with their problems and pests.

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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

The black stuff on the branch looks like eggs. Scrape them off. The rest might be canker and borers? Im sure someone who has had this problem can help you.

The key is to keep an eye on your trees and stop them from getting to that point.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:13PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


You don't say your location, which would be helpful.

The holes are probably borers (either shothole or lesser peach tree borer).

I've never seen the black stuff, but my guess is it's fungal or bacterial related (probably fungal).

All the dead bark on the trunk can have numerous causes. Southwest injury, lawnmower/weedeater damage, canker. Someone the other day mentioned the family dog tore bark off his tree. I can't tell for sure, but it's likely whatever originally caused the damage, canker has set in. Canker and some borers are opportunistic. That is they readily invade wounded tissue.

Assuming the tree with the dead branches is the same one with some of the other bark damage, the tree is under significant stress and is in a general state of decline. I wouldn't expect the tree to live more than a couple seasons.

The fruit has some serious insect feeding. The second to the last photo shows the beginnings of catfacing. The black spot won't grow, but the rest of the peach will, so it will eventually look really deformed. Any number of insects can cause catfacing. Here it is usually stink bug. There was also what looks like some other insect feeding that left a trail on the skin.

Re: pectin oozing peaches (3rd picture). Many times that's the result of internal feeding grubs. Try cutting some peaches like that open to see if you see any worms. It looks like there is a dead leaf attached to the oozing peach, which would be another indication of internal feeding grubs.

The peaches in last photo look a bit strange. It's clear they have brown rot, but what's strange is that the fruit cracking that is the brown rot entry point is somewhat unusual. Generally, but not always, fruit cracking from rain comes closer to harvest. Did you have a long dry spell followed by some heavy rain?

Basically you're going to have to start a spray program if you want any fruit.

Start by pulling off all the fruit that shows any rot. Prune any black masses on the shoots you see. Cut open several fruit w/ pectin oozing. If you consistently see worms, pull off all the oozing fruit.

If you're not opposed to spraying. Spray the trees thoroughly with Triazicide Once and Done fruit and vegetable spray. I would also tank mix some captan with it.

Cut away all the dead bark from the trunk and limbs and spray them as well and continue to spray them every time you spray.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 12:07AM
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We had some peaches here at work in #10 containers last year. They fruited but were not sprayed. Many of the fruits leaked a clear ooze. When I contacted our fruit
breeding station at UW-Peninsular Research, they told me this most likely caused by Xanthomonas bacterial blight.

The solution was to spray with copper in spring up to time
of bud break. The 3 peaches in my orchard have never had
this problem but I supposed since I sprayed for peach leaf curl with Chlorothalonil it prevented this issue?

I also was told that Xanthomonas is tough to control in wet, cool springs.

I am not sure if your oozing peaches have Xanthomonas bacterial blight but it sure sounds like it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:52AM
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Thanks for the replies. I've really tried to keep from spraying anything on my trees; my apple, pear, and pecan trees usually do fine, but these seem more vulnerable. Are any of those sprays very toxic?

I found another one of the bugs in the bored holes and took a picture:

There are two trees with these problems, but I discovered a third tree this year.
I had taken a pit from a peach and planted it several years ago among weeds and small sumac-looking trees just to see if it would do anything. I had forgotten all about it until it bloomed this year, and I finally noticed it. I didn't even know what it was until little peaches started popping up on it. It looks a lot healthier than the other two, and has actually grown taller.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 1:04PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I don't know who you spoke with at the research station, but I wonder about the person's experience with peaches.

Xanthomonas pruni causes bacterial spot and bacterial canker in peaches. "Bacterial blight" isn't a term generally associated with peaches. I assume what he/she meant was bacterial canker.

Xanthomonas pruni (bacterial spot) can cause damage to peaches and any damage can cause oozing.

That said, bacterial spot is not that common. I have about 30 varieties in my backyard and two regularly show symptoms if I don't spray for it.

Of the two, if I don't spray, one gets bac. spot so bad it cracks the fruit and defoliates about 50% of the foliage. The other doesn't get it as bad, but it causes enough damage to make most of the fruit unmarketable. In spite of that, I don't recall seeing oozing peaches from either one of these varieties. Spraying them with Flameout (oxytet) completely eliminates the problem.

Symptoms of Xanthomonas pruni don't just show up on the fruit. Before it's seen on the fruit, the leaves will have a shothole appearance. Scab (which looks almost identical) affects just fruit, but Xanthomonas affects the leaves first.

I've cut open lots of oozing peaches from unsprayed trees around here and almost always there is either a worm or internal feeding damage causing the oozing.

If you do have a problem with Xanthomonas pruni, copper does reduce the inoculum.

To my knowledge, Chlorothalonil has no effect on Xanthomonas.


It looks to me like there are beetle-like legs forming on that grub. I suspect it's shot-hole borer.

Re: Sprays

Sometimes peaches can be grown with no sprays. Sometimes it just takes a few years for the pests to show up. In most places pears produce some harvestable fruit with no sprays. Likewise with pecans. Apples generally require sprays east of the continental divide. So if you can get a decent crop of apples w/o sprays, and your east of the Rockies, you're lucky. Again it would help to know the general area where you are located. No one will track you down if you give your state and growing zone.

"Are any of those sprays very toxic?"

Triazicide is in a class of insecticides called pyrethroids. These are common insecticides and have a high margin of safety for humans. They are found in many "pre-mixed" jugs sold for in home use, as well as animal sprays, wasp/hornet sprays, etc.

Captan is an older generation fungicide and has a lower margin of safety. I recommended it because it's easily available to homeowners and has a wide spectrum of activity against many fungi. I use it early in the season.

For brown rot Montery Fungi Fighter has a higher margin of safety, but is fairly specific to brown rot in it's fungal activity.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:02PM
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I just want to thank you so very much for taking time to give very detailed responses.

Although I am not the one asking the question, I've found your responses very helpful to any backyard peach grower, me included.

I have peach, Asian pears and apples that have fruited. Peaches have the most issues. (I may change my mind once my plum is big enough to fruit).

Also, I'm in Central MA. I am lucky that can get by growing apples with only two Immunox spray. But I have to bag my apples early. Last year, I was too slow to bag. Most apples got damaged by bugs. In previous years, two Immunox sprays, bagged, that's it. I could almost claim that those apples were organically grown.

Again thank you very much.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:48PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thank you Mamuang for the kind words. I enjoy teaching and fruits. When I can put the two together and help someone, there is a special satisfaction.

I remember how lost I was when I planted my first fruit trees. It was in the mid 90's and there wasn't any Internet. Out of 10 trees, I think 2 or 3 survived. I wish then I could have asked questions through the touch of a keypad.

The collective knowledge of the fruit growers on this forum is where the real aid comes from. Still, it feels nice to be appreciated.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Yes,I've found this forum most helpful.

I saw the pictures of your peach trees on another post (and on your website). I'd like to ask how you get them to grow so well. My 2 and 3 years old (PF 1 and PF 24 c)peach trees don't look anywhere like yours. They look anorexic comparing to your full-body trees. I did not fertilize at planting. I just fertilize both with 10-10-10 for the first time in late March this year.

My soil is rather poor (the builder filled it with what he called cheap fill when he built my house) and full of rock, too. Othere fruit were planted together in an area where we tilled and amended the soil (my former veggie garden). I planted 3 varieties of peach (Autumnstar this year) right in the middle of the yard. I can see the differences of growth between the peach trees (OK)and the rest (very good) in better soil.

Is it too late to do anything? Any suggestion, please?

I should have grown them on berm like yours!!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:38AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


It sounds like you know I'm a big proponent of mounds. Please let me take a moment and explain why.

In my location I could never get peach trees to do very well when planted on flat ground.

I used to loose lots of peach trees. I'd read in the literature that peach trees need well drained soil, but the literature makes that statement for pretty much all fruit trees. They don't tell you peach trees need it much more than most other trees (about the only tree that needs well drained soil more than peach is apricot). At some point I visited a commercial peach orchard in the area. He told me to grow successful peach trees in this area they must be planted in a mound/terrace.

The combination of loosing lots of peach trees, watching many of them languish, and visiting with the peach orchardist finally made me realize I needed to do something about drainage. Still, I resisted mounds at that point because I already had many trees planted.

Instead, I ended up tiling the orchard area. We dug a 4' ditch around the orchard area and put in gravel and field tile to drain the water away. This helped quite a bit, but I noticed some of the trees were still water stressed (too much water). I spent a lot of money, but it still didn't completely solve my problem.

That's when I decided I would not plant another peach tree unless it was in a mound/terrace. For existing trees I didn't want to remove, I started mulching very lightly (vs. heavy mulching) which seemed to reduce the stress of water logging. But still trees in mounds outperform trees in the ground.

That's why I think I can say in this area mounds are the number one cultural principle to having healthy peach trees.

Probably the second most important is mulch. Peach trees are not generally all that competitive. Their roots are fairly shallow and so have to directly compete with turf and weeds. Some other fruit trees (like apples and pears) send down deeper roots and don't have to compete as much with other plants.

Mulch reduces the root competition as well as foliage competition with weeds/grass. It keeps the soil temps more stable and keeps the soil moisture stable. Lastly, mulch is a constant slow release fertilizer.

If you think about it from the plants perspective. Mounds provide perfect drainage (It's impossible to water log a mound regardless of how much rain you get.) Mulch reduces all competition, provides a uniform soil moisture and fertilizes at the same time. It's the ultimate protective environment (Only a well managed green house provides more protection).

One other thing that reduces stress (and consequently increases vigor) is that I thin early. I have a lot of trees to thin and regardless that we work as fast as we can, it still takes a while to thin all the trees.

I notice right after I thin, not only do I see an immediate bump in fruitlet size, but the trees will start putting on more vegetative growth as well. Removing 80% of the fruit takes a huge load/burden off them and they respond accordingly.

I'd guess I'd sum up my response to your question as mounds, mulch, and thinning without delay.

All that said, I actually have more vigor than I want. It's not that I think mulch reduces fruit quality. I don't know if you saw it, but there was a good thread on this forum a few days ago about the effect of N on fruit quality. I think it was pretty much agreed too little or too much N reduces quality.

I think the removal of competition the mulch creates, as well as having a healthy root structure (from the mounds) naturally produces trees with lots of vitality. The N from the mulch adds to that. Only once have I noticed the fruit suffer from too much N, and that was when I was mulching heavily with fresh grass clippings.

I've sold to many customers who have their own backyard peach trees (they don't get fruit from them routinely because the trees are pretty much unmanaged). As a general rule they tell me my peaches exceed theirs for flavor. One customer told her husband they need to just cut their peach tree down and buy my peaches:-)

My biggest problem with all the vigor is it causes too much pruning. I have to remove about 50% of the canopy each season to keep the trees at the height I want. I prune in the summer, but I'm trying to get more aggressive about it to see if I can't slow the growth down a bit.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:26PM
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Thank you very much, Olpea. Of all the 3 main things you mentioned, mound, mulch and thinning, I got one right!! I thinned heavily and early. I don't wait for June drop. I was not vigilant on mulching. I just ordered mulch today.

Re.mounding, what kind of soil you use? Can I use regular top soil (store bought)? Do you mix it with anything like peat? This may sound ignorant (admittedly I am), but I just want to make it right. I want to plant Tangos and maybe, White Lady, next year. And with all problems peaches have, I may need to plant one every year to replace the one I (will) lose.

Of all the fruit trees, I happened to plant peach to compete with grass in my lawn. I should have planted them in the tilled area and moved pears and apples out in the lawn. Another lesson learned.

BTW, I wish we had an orchard like yours (for good quality peach) in our area. Almost all U-pick and family-operated orchards around here focus on apples (and a bit on berries esp.blueberries).

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:39AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thanks Mamuang.

On the mounding, I've just used the dirt that's already there (not purchased any). In my backyard, I've used a skid steer (rented) and a dingo (rented walk behind loader) to build mounds. I've also used a shovel and wheelbarrow, but that's a lot of work!

I've not noticed the type of dirt makes a difference for the mound. When we put the field tile in, we used about 4 large dump truck loads of gravel for the tile. It was 80 tons of rock. Consequently, we had 4 truckloads of dirt left over (that wouldn't go back in the trench). Much of this material was pure clay (because it was from 4' down). I eventually used all the left over material for mounds. I can't tell the difference between trees in mounds of clay vs. trees in mounds of dirt.

The mulch keeps the clay mounds from becoming like concrete. Worms start boring holes and fertility improves.

If you start using mounds, I would encourage you to make them big enough. I sold one of my customers some peach trees this spring. I really impressed upon him to put them in mounds. Somehow there was miscommunication and he only built his mounds 2 ft. square, which isn't near big enough for trees.

Geographically speaking, I think principles of mounds, mulch and early thinning have wide application.

Yesterday there was a post about peaches and a pic. (see link below for the pic).

Take a look at that pic. In my opinion the tree looks healthy. It's a young tree well foliated. Notice the background. The poster obviously resides in a desert/arid region. Typically those places have lots of sandy soil (or at least don't get much rainfall). This performs the same function as a mound in areas with high rainfall (that is, no water logged roots).

The tree looks drip irrigated. This would perform the same function as the mulch (that is, even moist soil conditions). Also notice there is no grass/weed competition anywhere near the tree (again performing the function of mulch).

It's not at all surprising to me the tree is lush.

Re: TangOs. I'm also excited about them. I'm wondering if I shouldn't have planted more of them this spring.

BuenOs (NJF18) fruited last year and it was very good for a sub-acid peach. I've got fruit for the first time on TangOs (NJF16) this year. There's been enough talk about it on this forum, I'm interested in what it tastes like.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Thank you very much, Olpea. I do appeciate your detailed description on how things should be done. I will try a mounding method on my next peach.

I did see the picture. I usually read almost every post to learn something from each.

Where did you buy TangOs, please? The only place I see is ACN. I ordered it from Schlabach (saw it in the 2011 catalog) but they did not have it for 2012. I got my money back instead of the tree I want.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 8:45AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I got mine from ACN. I planted a couple more TangOs from them this season and one TangOs II. One of their reps told me TangOs II is very hard to grow but they sell it because it has a very good unique flavor. It certainly looks different with green skin at harvest.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:38AM
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ACn it is, then. Thank you.

Hopefully, you and those who grow TangOsII will let us know how it tastes. I'll stick with TangOs since those who posted here said it's easier to grow.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 11:54AM
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