Leaf curl is a fungal disease that is quite common in peach trees, but will also affect other stone fruits such as nectarines, apricots and almonds. The fungal spores of the disease lie dormant on the tree’s bark and then infection begins at bud burst. The first signs are seen on the new leaf growth; leaves start out a paler green colour and quickly begin to curl. As it develops, the leaves turn a pinky-purple, followed by a white bloom on their surface, and finally they fall off the tree.

Unfortunately, peach leaf curl can also affect the fruit, restricting their growth and causing them to drop before ripening. The tree will keep growing, but will seriously weaken if the disease is not controlled. Unfortunately (again), by the time the symptoms are noticed it’s too late for significant control measures to be applied that year. Treatment needs to be applied just prior to bud burst in spring, so get out your veggie patch calendar and make an important note for next year. But, what to do now?

Peach leaf curl does not mean a year of stone fruit abstinence, because a little more care and nurturing now can salvage some results. However, it’s a prolonged effort to put the tree back into its full swing and that means being more organised and diligent than you otherwise would.

Optimal Conditions

When there is lack of airflow, the lack of spores are more likely to infect


Leaves turn a paler green colour and then begin to curl and ‘bubble’ and turn darker.


The infection jumps from tree to tree, so keep an eye on neighbouring plants for signs and keep your plant healthy and strong.


Remove any infected leaves, from both the tree and the ground and dispose in the bin (not compost bin). You will also need to give the tree some extra love to limit stress. Apply a seaweed solution to the soil and to the leaves every month and keep it well watered.


Just before bud burst, spray your trees with copper hydroxide or copper oxychloride, ensuring thorough coverage over all branches and leaves. If your tree was severely infected the previous season, it doesn’t hurt to spray in mid-winter and then again just before bud-swell.

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