The Q&A Archives: Care of Peach Tree

Question: My peaches had their 1st fruit last year but the leaves on the tree looked shriveled and the peaches had hard clear stuff like little drops all over the fruit. Then brown spots appeared. How can I make sure that doesn't happen again this year.

Answer: Without actually seeing the problem, I can only venture an educated guess. It sounds like bacterial spot. Bacterial spot attacks the fruit, leaves, and current season's twigs. Fruit infections appear as tiny purple to black flecks on the fruit surface of peaches, and as water-soaked spots on nectarines and other smooth skinned Prunus spp. Later, the skin is broken and the flesh beneath the spot becomes sunken. Chemical sprays may help to reduce the levels of fruit and leaf infection. To be effective, spray applications must be applied before symptoms occur. The first spray is usually a copper compound applied just before tree growth resumes in the spring. This is followed by weekly applications of an antibiotic beginning at petal fall (alternating apllications of antibiotic and copper may be effective, also, although many stone fruits are sensitive to copper and injury from copper may be difficult to distinguish from damage caused by the pathogen). The 3-week period following petal fall is critical for early-season fruit infection and establishment of inoculum on new foliage. Rainfall during this period is favorable for infection. Look in your local garden center for fruit tree sprays and you should find just the right product to help protect your peach tree. Best wishes with your peach tree!

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