Peach leaves curling?

This week in the clinic we received an unusual set of symptoms on peach tree leaves. The leaves were puckered and distorted leaf blade had turned light green fading into pink or red. This disease is called peach leaf curl.
 
The culprit? The fungus Taphrina deformans. The problem? Not only the gnarly look, but defoliation can be severe if weather is conducive, and ultimately peach production will be reduced. Note this pathogen infects mainly the leaves and would only move to the fruit when the disease is severe, and management tactics have not been in place even thou the disease have been confirmed in the tree or orchard. When affected, fruit can be enlarged, puckered or have scabby lesions.
 
The good news is that this pathogen is we plant doctors called monocyclic, meaning these fungal spores infect peach leaves only once a year in the spring.
 
What can I do now if my peach tree leaves looks like this?

  • Unfortunately, a fungicide application is most effective when the tree is dormant, in the fall after leaves fall or in the spring before buds swell.

Do other fruit trees suffer from leaf curl?

  • Nectarines and plums, but a related Taphrina spp. can infect oak and maples.

How does the pathogen Taphrina deformans survive winter?

  • On buds or twigs of the tree.

To confirm if your peach, plum, oaks or maples are suffering from diseases caused by Taphrina spp. send us a sample! Test, do not guess, so in the fall, you can treat only when needed. 

Shows a line of leaves with peach leaf curl disease
Symptoms of peach leaf curl disease on peach leaves.

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Lina Rodriguez Salamanca Extension Plant Pathologist and Diagnostician

Dr. Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca is a diagnostician and extension plant pathologist with the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic  (clinic.ipm.iastate.edu), a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN, ...

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