The Q&A Archives: peach & apricot tree disease

Question: I bought a peach & apricot tree last year and they seemed to be fine when they first began to bloom in Spring. Then Peach leaf curl set in on the peach tree. I know its too late to save it for this summer but now both trees have redish purple spots on the leaves and I'm seeing large black ants on them. Please help??!!!

Answer: Peach Leaf Curl can affect leaves, flowers, tender shoots and even fruit. Those diseased leaves will fall off soon, but unaffected leaves will grow on normally. Once you see the problem it is too late to correct it for this season. Sanitary measures certainly can't hurt, so you may want to collect and discard fallen, affected leaves, and to prune twigs with the small, seldom noticed swellings caused by the infection. Infection occurs in spring when temperatures are around 68 degrees and surface moisture is present on the buds. Therefore the problem doesn't occur every year with the same severity. The lowest toxicity option for effective control is to apply a copper fungicide at the beginning of dormancy in the fall. Copper will cause the peach to defoliate so that is why we wait until the leaves begin to fall to apply it. Note that copper can stain masonry blue, so be careful in applying the spray if your tree is near a sidewalk, rock wall of your home, etc.

The ants shouldn't cause a problem, unless what you are seeing are carpenter ants. If so, look for nesting sites in the bark of your trees (sawdust, holes, etc.) They generally only nest in dead wood. Let's hope they are not finding dead wood in your peach and apricot trees!

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