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Peach Tree Leaf Curl - The Answers! - by Ben Gaia, www.dialatree.co.nz


People keep pointing out their Peach leaf curl to me this year and demanding to know what to do about it. So here we go.

Young, and newly planted peach and nectarine trees will tend to get leaf curl as a reaction to their first few years of being planted, and having insufficient roots to feed the fast-growing tree in spring. Any kind of drought stress sets it off, including growing in a small container, or a few dry windy days after what you'd think would be enough spring rain. The trees can't find enough water and the leaf curl sets in. It looks terrible - like great big blobby bubbles bulging on some of the leaves.

At this point, it is already too late! No need to try spraying more copper like the book suggested, this should have been done when the tree was dormant. All you'll do now is choke up the local insect biome with copper poisoning.

No more copper! says Katy the Katydid

Just pull off those twisty leaves and burn them. This reduces the evaporation area and allows the new growth to recover. It also looks much more satisfying. Water the tree really well. Ensure good wind shelter. Stonefruit like to be mulched to retain the soil moisture. You can grow garlic underneath as a fungicide. If it is in a container, sit the pot in a deep saucer to slow down the water passing through. And the bigger your container the better. Even a good "Dwarf Bonsai" Peacherine will appreciate an enormous pot and saucer.

Don't Worry

The good news is the trees grow out of leaf curl over the years. Your ten year old trees will get very little sign of it. Everyone is getting it this spring so don't blame yourself! It is our climate of "wet-dry-wet-dry" that is the culprit. Peaches like more gentle, inland, steadily warming springs and hot summers, with good winter frosts. Think Alexandra, think Christchurch. Think Persia: Prunus persica means Persian Plum.

Anywhere else we are utterly blessed to get a peach or two, even every third year or so, considering most of NZ has an unsettled climate, compared with the Peach's native land.

Westland Peacherines - after years of patience

We grow fruit and timber trees in the extreme climate of the South Island. Explore our mail order nursery for organic fruit and forestry trees.

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