Peach Leaf Curling and Crinkling:  Fungal Disease with a Sense of Humor

Symptoms of peach leaf curl have been reported on residential peach trees throughout Kentucky. The disease results in disfigured leaves during spring and summer; twigs and fruit may also become infected. Once symptoms have developed fungicides are not effective. Successful management of peach leaf curl begins in fall.

Peach Leaf Curl Facts

  • Symptoms begin to appear shortly after bloom and are characterized by thick, folded, puckered, and curled leaves (Figure 1). Infected leaves typically exhibit a red or purplish coloration (Figure 2). Diseased leaves develop a powdery gray coating, turn brown, and wither before dropping from the tree.
  • Twigs and fruit may become infected.
  • Repeated defoliation from this disease can increase the sensitivity of trees to cold injury.
  • Initial infection occurs in late winter or spring prior to bud swell. There is no further spread of the disease during the growing season.
  • Rain and temperatures between 50° and 70° F are required for infection.
  • Caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans.
Figure 1. Peach leaf curl symptoms include thick, folded, puckered and curled leaves. (Photo: Paul Bachi, UK)

Figure 1. Peach leaf curl symptoms include thick, folded, puckered and curled leaves. (Photo: Paul Bachi, UK)

Figure 2. Peach leaf curl results in a red or purplish coloration on peach leaves. (Photo: Paul Bachi, UK)

Figure 2. Peach leaf curl results in a red or purplish coloration on peach leaves. (Photo: Paul Bachi, UK)

Management Options

  • A single fungicide application once leaves drop in fall or prior to bud swell in early spring provides control of the disease. Homeowners can apply fungicides that contain chlorothalonil or copper. Always follow label directions when utilizing fungicides.
  • Fungicides are not effective once symptoms develop.
  • Select cultivars with an increased tolerance for the disease, such as ‘Redhaven’ varieties.
  • Reduce tree stress:
    • Thin to reduce fruit load.
    • Promote vigor by fertilizing according to soil test results and irrigating during dry conditions.

Additional Information

  • Peach Leaf Curl & Plum Pockets (PPFS-FR-T-01)
  • Simplified Backyard Peach & Stone Fruit Spray Guide (PPFS-FR-T-20)
  • Homeowner’s Guide to Fungicides (PPFS-GEN-07)
  • Commercial Pest Management Guide (ID-232)
  • Disease and Insect Control Program for Homegrown Fruit in Kentucky (ID-21)

 

By Kimberly Leonberger, Extension Associate, and Nicole Ward Gauthier, Extension Plant Pathologist

 

 

Posted in Fruit