Peach tree trouble

ekatMay 5, 2011

I have been doing my research and found this forum. I am hoping to get some advice from this knowledgeable community.

We bought a house in May 2009. And the house came with a healthy at the time peach tree that was full of peaches ready to be picked. Later that year (August-September) the tree leaves turned yellow, orange, red, got some spots on it and started to fall off. I first assumed it was getting ready for the winter (which seemed too soon, but I knew nothings about growing peached in SoCal at the time).

Last year, 2010, we had our gardener prune the tree (pic 1)

in January and soon after that the tree bloomed and we again enjoyed peaches in May (pic2).

However, some of the leaves have already started turning red and getting those spots earlier than in 2009. I circled on the pic 2 where you can barely see those yellow-red leaves.

This year it all got much worse. We did not prune the tree. We did not fertilize it. The tree had a lot of flowers and leaves, with a lot of fruit babies. But those orange-red-yellow spotty leaves came very early (see current pictures 3-5).

The fruit basically stopped growing and is dropping. Leaves are also dropping.

I googled the issue, and it does not look like a leaf curl to me. What it might be is nitrogen and phosphorus deficiency. Does it look like that to you?

I bought organic tree food (5-4-5) and followed the instructions to make fertilizer tea. I tried mixing some fertilizer with the soil, but it seems to be rock solid. We relied on close by sprinklers to water the tree (we had that line on longer than others usually). I moderately watered the tree this morning and tried mixing in some fertilizer. I am a very immature gardener and just started a vegetable garden this year and started composting. I might have some compost ready. Should I try adding it?

My questions are, I guess:

1) Is there anything I can do to save this year harvest?

2) What do I need to do to make sure I have a healthy tree next year?

3) How would you recommend pruning the tree? Any good videos from youtube? I have seen tons of videos, but they are all for smaller trees. I have no idea how to make an upside down umbrella from this tree that is currently growing mostly up and onto the other side of our fence (which makes it hard to pick fruit from there anyway).

4) Any professionals or stores/nurseries you can recommend in Orange County, SoCal, where I can get advise form instead of wasting your precious time?

Sorry for such a long post and really appreciate any advice I can get here.

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Dan Staley

Peaches and stone fruits are subject to innumerable diseases. That from here looks fungal, but not sure what pests are down there. Every winter the tree must be sprayed at least once with dormant spray to kill the overwintering spores. Likely too late now to save fruit. You'll want to contact your Co Extension, send these fotos and ask what treatment is OK in your area.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 3:15PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Dan's advice is the best. It is a fungal disease and it is easy to control if you are allowed to use the fungicide required. California has some restrictions imposed by counties and your local county extension service is the best source of that information. Your soil should not be "rock hard" as that keeps air from the roots, which stops the roots from taking up nutrients and water. Rake the surface and add about 3 inches of vegetative mulch to cool the soil and help retain the moisture. Water the tree well, weekly, to relieve what stress you can. Start spraying dormant spray at leaf drop and again in January and you should be able to get your tree under control for next year, by following your extension service local advice. Al

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 6:08PM
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Thank you for the quick response. I found OC master gardeners hot line and emailed them the pictures with the same questions.
I googled some more and found that what my peach tree has looks very much like X-disease, which is supposed to be fatal within 2-6 years. Please tell me this is not the thing :(
Here are a couple of links that I found:

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:08PM
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I'm not sure I'd jump to the conclusion that it's x-disease and the tree is a loss. Looks more like peach leaf curl to me, which is common and can be managed organically with bordeaux mix, or with another spray in Jan/Feb, but there's little you can do now except to improve the overall health of the tree as Calistoga outlined.

Here is a link that might be useful: peach leaf curl

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:57PM
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That looks exactly like what our neighbors peach tree does in the spring every year. They say it's a fungus, if you spray the fungus in the fall or early winter it will not look like that... once there are flowers on the tree it's too late.

BTW, their peach tree is 10 years old, does it every year, has never been sprayed and does fine, except for looking funky for part of the year.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Thank you all again for all the advice. I was trying to keep things organic and was avoiding any kind of spraying. But looks like there are organic alternatives and copper spray is considered organic and not a harmful chemical. Local extension website recommends Lime sulfur when trees are dormant to control pests and fixed copper spray before the bloom to control fungus. I will follow their recommended schedule next year.

What about pruning? Any suggestions? Should I chop off the branch that is somewhat lower then all others (see pic 1 - it is on the left of the tree just about 2 feet above the ground)? What about the big branch that is crossing the fence on the right of the pic 1? Can I cut it where it just touched the fence and hope that it is going to grow side-wise and not up?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:44PM
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