By Debbie Oldfield
BBut its not just peaches that are affected by this disease, its nectarines, peachcots and peacherine trees too! The Latin name for this fungal disease is 'Taphrina deformans' and it does live up to its name by deforming the leaves and sometimes fruit on your trees causing them to become puckered, curled, get a reddish tinge and become much thicker than normal. Heavily infected leaves will fall, and shoots are often stunted and distorted. If left untreated the problem will get worse year-after-year and reduce the tree's ability to produce lots of fruit.
There are a few things you can do to combat this leaf curl, starting when you initially plant the trees. Try and plant them somewhere with good air movement to cut back on the likelihood hood of fungal problems. Then in late autumn when your leaves are starting to fall for the winter it's time to apply a clean-up fungicide.
A copper-based fungicide spray is used for smothering the fungal spores that take up residence over winter in different parts of the tree, but mainly in the buds. When applying your copper-based fungicide, good coverage is required as fungal diseases can be harboured everywhere including the rough crevices of the bark, so spray until your trees are dripping wet all over. This should be applied while the leaf and flower buds are still closed – right before the buds burst. Once again spray till dripping wet as you need to create a surface barrier to protect against the fungus. Follow this up with another copper spray 10-14 days later – particularly if you've had lots of wet weather.
Do not spray once the flower buds are showing as copper sprays are very toxic to bees when wet (fine when dry though).These simple measures should see you well on the way to producing lots of fruit and having healthy (leaf curl free) trees.