Peach leaf curl is a disease that primarily targets peach trees just before or after bud break in the spring. Infected tree leaves will turn red, form blisters, and wilt.
The 90+ species of peach trees are all vulnerable to peach leaf curl. The fungus can also be found on similar fruit and flowering trees including nectarine and almond.
Cool temperatures and frequent spring showers favor the fungus that causes peach leaf curl. The pathogen overwinters on tree buds as they open up in spring, launching the infection. Tree leaves become puckered or form blister-like spots. Leaves that recently emerged with their green spring coloring will turn reddish-yellow and eventually fall prematurely. A few weeks after the infection runs its course, a new flush of leaves will usually appear.
Peach leaf curl relies on the cool, wet elements of spring to survive, so preventing an infection prior to the growing season is best. Fungicide treatment is most effective in late winter or early spring just before trees sprout. However, once symptoms of peach leaf curl have been spotted, these treatments may not be as effective. In this case, the best course of action would be to improve tree strength and vigor to prevent the disease from reappearing in the coming years.
Throughout the year, a susceptible tree would benefit from holistic care and maintenance. Proper fertilization, watering, mulching, and pruning will maintain the health of the tree and support its natural defense against a peach leaf curl infection. Talk to your local arborist if you have questions about the maintenance plan best for your plant.