Peach trees can be plagued by a number of fruit diseases that cosmetically blemish the fruit, diminish the fruit flavour or ruin the peach crop altogether. Most peach fruit diseases display early symptoms on the leaves or twigs. Careful gardeners monitor the tree through the spring and summer for signs of peach fruit disease. While some types of peaches are more disease resistant than others, no type of peach is fully disease resistant.
Peach trees and peach fruit can contract brown rot, a fungal disease that will ruin the fruit crop. Affected fruit develops brown splotches on its skin. Over time the spots widen and cover the fruit. The fruit then shrivels and dries out until it resembles a prune; this is called mummification. Mummified fruits can remain on the trees or fall to the ground. Brown rot can quickly spread between trees. Gardeners can limit the disease's spread by pruning off infected branches and removing mummified fruit. Treat brown rot with fungicide, but contact your local county extension office for a list of currently approved fungicides for brown rot before you spray.
Peach Bacterial Spot
Peach bacterial spot occurs most often in warm, wet weather with temperatures of 21.1 to 29.4 degrees Celsius. Peach tree twigs develop discolouration, and leaves develop tan or rust-coloured spots and may turn yellow. As the tree infection worsens, peaches can get bacterial spot. The fruit develops brown freckles surrounded by a yellow ring. The University of Rhode Island discourages spraying for bacterial spot since there is no effective management program. Instead, prune annually to promote air circulation, which keeps the tree healthy, and plant resistant types of peach, such as Sunhaven, Redskin, Comanche and Garnet Beauty.
Peaches develop scab at any stage between immature and fully grown fruit. The disease first appears as olive-green spots on the peach skin. The spots multiply and grow together, forming large blotches. As the infection worsens, the fruit may crack or grow distorted. Gardeners can eat peaches infected with scab after peeling the fruit, but the quality will not be as good as that of healthy fruits. Control for scab by pruning infected twigs before fruit develops and by pruning annually to promote air circulation.
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