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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 12, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Apparent disease in peach tree in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a peach tree that the leaves are "bleeding" out on. The leaves are continuing to get paler and paler. There are no peaches on the tree this year either. What can I do?

ANSWER:

Peaches, plums, cherries and almonds are all "stone fruits" in the genus Prunus, which means they are all susceptible to many of the same diseases and pests. Unfortunately, most of the research materials we could find were for commercial orchard management, rather than the back yard peach tree. Without knowing more about the symptoms your tree has been showing, we can't say what is causing it and what controls might be useful. Some of the disease problems are really scary, and control is listed as "destroying all the trees in the neighborhood of the affected tree." Most members of the Prunus genus have been so extensively hybridized for cultivation that just diagnosing a problem is difficult. If the only symptom were the leaves losing their color, we would blame chlorosis, or the lack of iron in the soil, or the lack of accessibility of trace elements in the soil. Poor drainage around the roots frequently contributes to this problem, and can sometimes be alleviated by the introduction of more organic material, like compost, into the soil around the roots. Unfortunately, the fact that your tree bore no fruit this year indicates that the problem is of some duration. We have collected several websites on pests and diseases in peaches, as well as other members of their genus. We suggest you read through them and see if any of the symptoms match the problems your tree is having. We recommend that you go to the website of AgriLIFE Extension Service of Texas A&M, Travis County and either follow weblinks or find the contact numbers. They would be more likely to be aware of local pest and disease problems, and possibly have information that will help you.

USDA Agriculture Research Service on biocontrols of peach diseases.

Texas Cooperative Extension, Pests of Peaches, Plums and Pecans

Clemson University Education Peach Disease Management

 

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