The Q&A Archives: Leaf Drop on Peach Tree

Question: What is causing leaf drop on my peach tree? I loose all my peaches once they get to the size of one half inch. There is scale and oozing on the bark.

Answer: Poor peach tree! Leaf drop is a sign of scale infestation, and ultimately, entire branches can die back. The oozing on the bark may be honeydew, the sweet waste product of the scale, or gummosis, which is thickened sap the tree exudes in an attempt to protect itself. In its weakened state, I'm not surprised it drops its fruit.

Here's how you can help your tree: use a light horticultural oil, such as Oil-Away, from Gardens Alive (812/537-8650; 5100 Schenley Pl., Lawrenceburg, IN 47025) as directed on the label to smother the scale. Spray the leaves with a foliar fertilizer of kelp/seaweed once a month this summer to provide extra nutrients to help it through this tough time. Make sure it is watered during dry spells, and don't expect any fruit to form this year, or perhaps even next year, while the tree recovers its strength. Next spring, as the leaves start to emerge, fertilize with compost and a balanced, slow-release fertilizer (5-5-5 or 10-10-10), as directed on the label. Best of luck!

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