Peach leaf curl results in disfigured leaves during spring and summer; twigs and fruit may also become infected. Successful management of peach leaf curl begins in fall or early spring, even though symptoms are not seen until leaves emerge.
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.
A single preventative fungicide application prior to dormancy (50% leaf drop to 100% leaf drop) or in early spring (delayed dormant, just before bud break) often provides sufficient management. In severe cases, both fall and spring applications may be necessary. Homeowners can apply fungicides that contain chlorothalonil or copper. Always follow label directions when utilizing fungicides.
Once the disease is present, the following management techniques can be used.
- Thin fruit heavily to reduce stress on the tree.
- Provide good growing conditions and irrigation to reduce tree stress.
- Replant with cultivars with an increased tolerance of the disease, such as ‘Redhaven’ varieties.
- Fungicides will not be effective once the disease is present.
- Peach Leaf Curl & Plum Pockets (PPFS-FR-T-01)
- Backyard Peach & Stone Fruit Disease, Pest and Cultural Practices Calendar (PPFS-FR-T-22)
- Simplified Backyard Peach & Stone Fruit Spray Guide (PPFS-FR-T-20)
- Homeowner’s Guide to Fungicides (PPFS-GEN-07)
- Commercial Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide (ID-232)
By Kimberly Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate, and Nicole Gauthier, Plant Pathology Extension Specialist