Peach leaf curl is a common problem found on leaves of Peaches and Nectarines (and their relatives). It rears it's ugly head on new growth in the spring and usually causes panic among home gardeners. It's a scary looking problem which shows itself as mutated, curled and discolored leaf. We've researched online, asked experts and taken part in countless online forums and we're bringing the information here for you to learn more. Please contact us if you have interesting information about peach leaf curl you'd like us to add to this resource.
As a general rule, peach leaf curl isn't horrible if caught early and it usually can be treated, but the treatment is done when the tree is dormant (using dormant spray), before the leaves appear in spring. So if you notice your trees have peach leaf curl, the conventional wisdom is you leave it alone, but get ready to treat your tree(s) next fall, winter, early spring, or maybe all three.
One of the first resources I go to find reliable information is the University of California and Natural Resources website. "Peach leaf curl, also known as leaf curl, is a disease caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. Peach leaf curl affects the blossoms, fruit, leaves, and shoots of peaches, ornamental flowering peaches, and nectarines, and is one of the most common disease problems for backyard gardeners growing these trees. The distorted, reddened foliage that it causes is easily seen in spring. When severe, the disease can reduce fruit production substantially." You can find the full article here http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7426.html.
The most common questions we see are:
1. Oh my gosh what is this horrible thing happening to my peach or nectarine.
2. What can I do to make it go away.
Answer: The general consensus is to apply an approved fungicide to treat peach leaf curl. There are differing opinions on how many times, some say you only need to spray once, but it appears to be related to how prone your trees are to the issue. The most aggressive treatment recommendations I've seen is to spray three times, once in fall (after 90% of leaves have fallen) and then again in winter and then again in spring before bud swell. The most common fungicide is a liquid copper solution found at your local garden center. As with everything, opinions differ by expert, by region and by availability of treatments (states often differ in what they approve). We recommend you research the following links and make your own decision.
Here are a number of interesting links which may help you with peach leaf curl. You'll find a number of different perspectives and treatment ideas.
Disease of the Month: Peach Leaf Curl - PennState Extension website.
Article - detailed information for identification, treatment and prevention for home gardeners in the region.
What Should I do If I See This On Your Fruit Trees? - Plant Abundance You Tube Chanel.
Video - preventing and treating peach and nectarine trees in the home garden using organic and manual controls.
Peach Leaf Curl - UCCE Central Sierra
Video (below) - identifying, preventing and treating peach and nectarine trees in the home garden. This is a very practical and informative video.