I know you guys are brilliant when it comes to these sort of things, so please help me out. In the last week something has started happening to my peach tree. The leaves are getting what are probably rust spots, then turning yellow, then brown, then falling. It's only a few of the leaves at this point (mostly right around the peaches). Is this cause for concern? What is causing this to happen? What can I do to prevent it? I sprayed with a compost tea, soap, vinegar, tea tree oil, molasses, and water mixture that I found in one of my fruit tree books, which said it might help but definitely wouldn't hurt. Thanks for all your help in advance!
i was going to put this off until tomorrow but since you're around tonight, i grabbed my Southern Living Garden Book (my bible). granted, you are in a totally different zone but the basic peach problems will probably exist.
i'll start at the beginning:
"if you're considering planting a peach, keep several things in mind. first, these are not low-maintenance plants. they require good drainage, heavier pruning than other fruit trees and regular spraying if you expect to get fruit. second and third, (talks about chill hours/different from your area and avoiding frost).
peaches are plagued by a host of diseases and insects. among the most serious ailments are peach leaf curl, brown rot and leaf scab. PLC causes emerging leaves to thicken, pucker and fall by midsummer. BR causes fruit to rot on the trees. PS covers the fruit with small circular greenish to black spots. to control these diseases, practice good sanitation, getting rid of diseased parts to avoid reinfection the next year. also give two dormant season sprayings of chlorothalonil (Daconil), fixed copper or lime sulfur; spray once after autumn leaf drop, then again in spring just before leaf-out.
peach tree borer is the most serious insect pest, causing defoliation, dieback and even death. jellylike material exuding from holes near the base of the trunk is the first indication."
(if you have this, i can type more about it)
what they need (synopsis):
600-900 hours of winter chill
more pruning (they produce fruit on one year old branches. severe pruning renews fruiting wood and encourages fruit throughout the tree rather than at the end of branches
disease control: apply dormant sprays annually
now it sounds to me like you are trying to stay organic (as i am too) but in the case of peaches, at the very least the lime sulfur spray or the copper seems like the prudent thing. Daconil is, if i remember right, something i used years ago and had to wear a mask and hope i wouldn't go blind the next day. glad those days are over.
after all this, i don't even know if maybe your tree isn't suffering from extreme weather conditions or some other cultural thing i'm not aware of...i would google image the peach leaf curl and go from there.
tracksinsand, thanks again! I definitely want to keep it as organic as possible (but also don't want to lose the tree). This is it's second year, first year fruiting. I actually have a ton of peaches on it and they all look great. I do need to keep in mind the severe pruning though, because I did nothing to it although it was pruned by the nursery where I purchased it. So I don't think it is either of the diseases that mess with the fruit, and I have noticed no jellylike material either. The pictures of PLC and LS look quite scary compared to what mine look like, but then again most pictures online depict the worst case scenario.
I just went out and took a look at it, and I had taken some more advice that I read online saying to pick off the yellowing/browning leaves. (Which by the way seemed to all be right by the forming peaches, Could it be that in trying to produce fruit it has not been giving enough nutrients to it's own foilage?) It seems to have helped, as they are all nice and green now (or it could also have been the spray). I have a Mesiplus germanica planted nearby, and it has a bit of brown around the edges of the leaves but I took that as sun/wind burn as it has been incredibly hot and windy here as compared to where I got the Medlar from. I also have a problem with my hollyhock leaves dying at the bottom, and getting chewed up by what I assume are spider mites (along with eating my rhubarb leaves). I don't know enough about it to know if any of this is related, or if it is all separate, and the bottom leaves on the hollyhock could just be too shaded by the rest of the plant. The only plant-to-plant disease I am aware of is the cedar apple rust. If any of this rambling brings something else to mind please let me know. Otherwise I will just keep a close eye on it, and I will make sure and prune and spray it.
i'll put in here what it says about pruning more in depth. parts may or may not apply to your situation.
"if you buy a bare-root tree that is an unbranched "whip", cut it back to 24-28" high. new branches will form below the cut. select three of these branches to become scaffold limbs, making sure they are evenly spaced and between 18-32" above the ground. remove all other branches. during the first winter, cut back these scaffold branches by a third, to an outward facing lateral branch or bud; this encourages a spreading growth habit. repeat this procedure during the second and third winters. thereafter, prune in winter to remove overcrowded branches, suckers from the base and watersprouts (unbranched shoots that grow straight up from the main branches). prune to open up the center of the tree so that sunlight can reach all of the leaves. genetic dwarfs need much less pruning than standard trees.'
do you know which cultivar you have? it lists quite a few in this book and comments about each one.
edited to add that spider mites don't chew leaves. they leave a bleached out yellow look to the leaves with crud on the backside and the leaf dies and drops. you probably have a flea beetle or other beetle problem with the hollyhocks.
As far as cultivar I was told there was none, and I still have the tag which just says P. persica. I was told that it is a freestone peach. There is one sucker that came up from the root of the tree, and it's leaves are red. I don't know if this is an indication of the rootstock that was used for grafting purposes or not. I thank you again for all the time you spent on this. Thanks!
i've learned things from this thread so the time spent was worth it. i didn't even know you could grow peaches in colorado! i lost my one and only peach this spring to weevils. there is no solution other than a chemical drench and if i did that, what would be the point? they would be inedible...sigh.