The Q&A Archives: Reasons for Peach

Question: I have a 9-year-old nectarine that has been healthy and bearing fruit. This spring, when the leaves came out, several on one or two branches were curled up and deformed. They then turned brown and fell off. This is not the result of any visible insect. What do you thing it might be? Thanks for any help. Sabina Parks Washington, DC

Answer: It sounds like your tree may be suffering from peach leaf curl, a fungal disease which causes the symptoms you describe--newly emerging leaves become puckered and leathery-feeling, then turn brown. Mild infections can be kept in check with diligent pruning--remove affected areas immediately and destroy. Healthy trees will be able to withstand some infection, so be sure your tree gets plenty of water and nutrients. An annual mulching with well-rotted compost will help. If you see the infection spreading throughout the tree, contact your county Extension agent for your spray options for your region. Their number is 202/274-6900.

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