Peach leaf curl is a fungus disease that causes developing peach leaves to become puckered and distorted and show a reddish-green hue. A similar disease called plum pocket may develop on American and sand hill plums. Plum pocket results in formation of distorted, light green, bladder-shaped fruit. Asian and European plums are not susceptible to the local strain of plum pocket. Unfortunately, it is too late to control any of these diseases with fungicides this year.
Trees that are severely infected with peach leaf curl are likely to lose many leaves. If trees are healthy, new leaves will grow. Indicators of a healthy tree are large, deep green leaves and last year’s growth being at least 18 to 24 inches long. If these tree vigor indicators are not present, especially if there was only 12 inches or less of growth last year, then a fertilizer application would be helpful.
The fertilizer should be spread on the soil under the branch area. Apply 1 and 1/3 to 2 cups of a 13-13-13 fertilizer under the branch area. If a soil test indicates that only nitrogen is needed, use 1/3 to 1½ cups of nitrate of soda (16-0-0) instead of the 13-13-13. You may also substitute a high nitrogen fertilizer such as a 27-3-4, 30-5-4 or something similar for the 13-13-13, but use only half the amount used for nitrate of soda. The sooner fertilizer is applied, the more immediate benefit it will have in promoting new leaf growth. Both peach leaf curl and plum pocket can be controlled with a single fungicide application applied this fall after leaf drop or early next spring before bud swell.
Effective fungicides include Bordeaux mixture and chlorothalonil (Bravo, Daconil and others). Be sure to cover the entire tree including the bark and trunk. (Ward Upham)