Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Peach Leaf Curl

Distorted peach leaf

The Disease.  Leaf curl is a fungal disease that affects peaches.  It is caused by a pathogen called Taphrina deformans.  I guess that the word 'deformans' reflects the nature of damage on the plant instead of the fungus itself. Infected areas of the leaves appear thickened and reddish in color.  They turn into distorted or malformed leaves.

In My Garden.  Every year, this disease shows up on my one and only peach tree.  Right after the first set of leaves appear, infection follows.  When the leaves are all deformed and discolored, the tree seems hopeless and not fit for any serious photosynthesis.  Fortunately, the disease can only survive under cooler and spread with the aid of the rain.   As the temperatures rise, the infected leaves fall off.  In some previous years I also helped the tree by had-picking the infected leaves.  This reduces the chance of the disease spreading on new leaves and thus shortening the overall "leaf curl period".

Currently, the temperature here is about 58º F and raining.  The weather still favors the development of the disease.  However, I noticed that most of the infected leaves have fallen off the tree and the proportion of healthy leaves is now more than the red-distorted ones.

In Your Garden.   If you have this problem on your peach tree, don't despair.  Read and understand the life cycle of Peach Leaf Curl.   Acquaint yourself with your climatic condition in relation to the requirements of the pathogen.  Although the disease can affect the yield and growth of your tree, the potential extent of damage is controlled by nature itself with some preventive measures from you.

Stroll in your garden...get acquainted with your unseen enemies.  For it is much easier to subdue them when you know their secret life.

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