By Julie Christensen
Peach trees are notoriously susceptible to disease problems, especially during rainy, humid weather. They’re also not particularly long-lived, and usually must be replaced after 10 to 15 years. However, if you live in a mild climate suitable for growing peach trees, the unbeatable flavor of a fresh peach makes them work the extra work. Below, you’ll find information about the most common peach tree diseases. In most cases, your best defense is a good offense, when it comes to treating peach tree diseases. Buy peach trees that are adapted for your region and resistant of the diseases common there. Plant them in full sun, in slightly sandy, well-draining soil. Prune them annually so light penetrates the canopy and air circulates freely. Finally, water peach trees regularly, because drought stress makes them more susceptible to problems.
Bacterial spot is caused by the bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris pv. Pruni. This disease is difficult to control, but fortunately, it is rarely fatal and causes only cosmetic damage to the peaches. The first symptoms you’ll probably notice are purple or reddish spots on the leaves. In some cases, the leaves might yellow and drop. The fruit develops small brown spots that can usually be peeled away. There are no chemical treatments for bacterial spot, but it’s more prevalent on stressed trees. Keep peach trees healthy through proper watering, pruning and fertilization.
Brown rot is the most common peach disease most home gardeners experience. Caused by the fungus, Monilinia fructicola, it first infects blossoms in spring. The blossoms turn brown and twigs may develop oozing cankers. Later in the season, it causes the developing fruit to turn brown, rot and become mummified on the branches. Spores in the infected blossoms, branches and fruit spread to infect other trees. Brown rot is most serious during wet weather, especially as the fruit is ripening. To control it, remove any infected flowers and fruit immediately and discard them. Pick up and dispose of all dropped fruit in the fall. You might also need to apply a fungicide containing captan, thiophanate methyl or azoxystrobin. Begin spraying as the first fruits start to ripen. If you wait until signs of rotting, you’ll have less success. Follow all directions carefully and spray the entire tree.
This soil-borne disease is caused by a bacteria, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which lives in the soil and infects many different species of ornamental and edible plants. You’ll first notice it as white or greenish growths under the soil or at the base of the tree. As the growths age, they spread and become brown or black. These growths interfere with the normal process of transferring nutrients between the roots and the tree. There is no treatment for crown gall. As the disease progresses, it stunts and eventually kills the tree. Plant disease-free trees. Avoid planting peach trees where crown gall has been a problem before. Be especially careful during planting not to injure the trunk or roots because crown gall enters the tree through injuries.
Aptly named, gummosis causes oozing, gummy sores or balls to form on the bark of the trees. You might also notice small blisters on the bark or sunken cankers. Over time, the disease, which is caused by the fungus, Botryosphaeria dothidea, weakens the tree and may eventually kill it. The problem is most prevalent on young, drought-stressed trees. There are no chemical controls for this disease. Keep the trees healthy and prune out any infected areas. Sterilize your pruning tools between cuts by dipping them in a solution of one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water.
Like bacterial spot, peach scab causes mostly cosmetic damage. It can be prevented with fungicide sprays, but for many home gardeners, ignoring it is the simplest option. Peach scab doesn’t cause damage to the leaves, but causes small, velvety spots on the fruit. In most cases, the spots can be peeled away and the fruit is perfectly edible. Peach scab is most common in young trees. To minimize the risk of peach scab, avoid planting peach trees in a low-lying spot. Water with soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinklers. Peach scab is most prevalent during rainy, mild weather.
For more information about peach tree diseases, visit the following links:
Peach Diseases from Clemson University Extension
Growing Peach Trees in North Carolina from North Carolina State University Extension
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.
Gary Brawner says
Peaches get half grown and then fall off?
Jeanne Everson says
My peach tree is 4 yrs. old. I had a professional arborist trim is last fall. About a month ago, it started oozing a jelly-like substance at the base of the trunk ( a large pile of it) and drops that looked like dew drops on every branch. It is trying to produce leaves, but hardly any. What is the problem???
Azwer Alam says
In also have this problem, this is gummosis. Have a grown up tree for last 10 years. It was only able to produce fruit edible fruit once in 10 years because of the gumming issue. Very annoying condition. A natural treatment that I have heard of is to clean the affected areas with vinegar. I am going to try it this year.
Deb Horan says
We have an extremely rainy season and I just noticed some kind of whitish, peach color fungus growing at the base of the trunk. What should I use to get rid of this. I read that you can use a solution of hydrogen peroxide to spray on it or can I just use the peach tree spray I use to spray on the entire tree to prevent and treat diseases?
Richard Harvey says
Leaves came on after the blossoms and fruit….due to weather. However, a few peaches developed…..and they have tiny hard spots in the fruit. Is this harmful to eat? Is it from insects? Or a fungus? I am planning on making jam out of the peaches as I am cutting out all of the spots. You can feel them in your mouth when eating the peach, so you have to spit it out, which I don’t like. What can we do to prevent this in the future? Thanks so much.
I live in a suburb of Charlotte, NC. I have a peach tree that was here when we moved in 4 1/2 years ago. I’ve pruned & sprayed the tree each year using captan and a copper fungicide. The tree looks great-lots of leaf & branch growth with some fall out of yellow leaves during summer. The peaches have never fully developed. They grow to golf ball size and then start leaking clear sticky substance eventually turning brown and rotting on tree. I cannot figure out the problem. Can you pls help. I suspect the peach tree is quite old possibly 15 years old or a little more.thank you
Kristina McGovern says
Sounds like my tree. I think it is due to aphids; small black insects that eat the fruit and secrete the clear jelly.
Todd Morrison says
Did you ever get an answer . I live in Kannapolis and think this common in this area.
I’ve had the same problem with my peach tree. I think your problem is that the roots of peaches are shallow, so they dry up quickly and they need a lot of water when the fruit is developing. They might need it as often as once a day, if it’s very hot. A water probe can tll you how dry the soil is, available at all garden stores. But getting the leaves wet is not good. My suggestions is to put a hose under it with maybe a soaker so that the leaves don’t get wet. The yellow leaves could also be a fungus or bacterial infection. Examine them closely and see if there are any spots. I once had a cherry tree that’s leaves turned yellow a couple weeks after harvest, all fell down, and the tree died. I think that was an infection, either fungus or bacterial.
Deb Horan says
Are you thinning the peaches? Meaning, after your peaches are about golf ball size, you need to pick them so that you have peaches of about 4 to 6 inches apart. If you leave them clumped together, they will not mature to full size peaches.
It seems like you are getting rid of a lot of peaches, and you are, but you are making room for the peaches left on the tree to grow and you will be amazed at how many you still have. It’s an important part of the process.
Wayne Faulkner says
I have the same problems that Dennis noted in his 8/12/18 comment. Can you share a remedy with me please?
Ken Lang says
My peach tree is 3 years old. It was growing great until this year. It has been a very rainy season and most of the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I have fertilized it but that hasn’t helped. What can I do for it?
Rita Richmond says
I have a very young peach and apercot tree. I live in West virginia. I have noticed spots on tree that is black and sticky. He is at the end of the stems. It’s on both trees. What could it be? What do I need to do?
I have a peach tree grown accidentally by a stone in my bed .It is 12ft ish but has curly leaves.how can I treat this
You have ” leaf curl ” and peach trees are highly susceptible to it.
You can spray it every year with I believe a fungicide, but your best shot is to get a new tree, bred to be leaf curl resistant. Hope that helps a little.
The trunk and some of the limbs on my peach trees are covered with a white substance that showed up in the last couple of weeks what can this be?
Connie Bell says
My peach tree has produced nice looking fruit this year but when the fruit is harvested many of them are rotting inside around the pit. What would cause this. Last year the fruit was perfect.
Paula Wenger says
My late white peach tree has green fruit on it now, however, the fruit has a fine black dust, looks velvety. Is this a fungus? What can be used to keep the fruit healthy?
Paula in Ventura, CA
I have a 20 year old peach tree which produces well every year, and there is a lot of developing fruit this season. This year on some of the lower branches, there are lots of tiny black balls along the farther out ends of the branches, They seem to be tended by ants. I can knock them off easily. They are definitely not on all or most of the bran. Any ideas of the cause or the cure? California is in another drought, but I water this and other fruit trees often.
I have a peach tree that has fruit that never ripen.they don’t colour and get really hard and dry with a slight black sooty fungus.they fall off stay hard then rot.