I am going to admit it. I am on my last gardening legs when it comes to stone fruit. For the past few years I’ve watched as my peaches and nectarines have battled, fruitlessly, against the dreaded peach leaf curl.
This year I am determined to follow through on a rigorous anti-leaf curl campaign to see if I can actually produce sufficient fruit to make all this work worthwhile. But before I submit fully to chemicals, I’m going semi-organic and placing my faith in copper oxychloride this season.
So if you’re within the northern hemisphere, then now, at the tip of autumn, is the time to start your campaign.
Leaf Curl – An overview.
Peach leaf curl is a fungus with spores that hibernate on your tree over winter, able to burst forth and wreak havoc in your leaf and fruit buds early in spring. It causes excessive leaf fall, damages your fruit resulting in an early drop and, if severe, can result in overall decline within the health of your tree. Leaf curl tends to be worse in humid areas, and once you spot the tell-tale signs early in the growing season, the very best you’ll be able to hope for is to limit its spread.
So the answer is to deal with the hibernating spores over winter, so they do not infect your emerging leaf buds.
And as with all gardening approaches there’s the nice, the so-so and the ‘only if it’s a must to’ options.
An organic approach is always worth trying first. There are various organic options for leaf curl including spraying with neem oil, using a compost tea and watering in washing soda across the drip line. There can be a faculty of thought that you just remove and burn infected leaves as soon as you see them. However this requires daily discipline and does not really fit with my hectic working mother lifestyle.
I’ll must be honest and say the organic approach hasn’t worked for me (although I’ve only just heard concerning the washing soda option so I am giving that a go). But I’m also moving on to something slightly more heavy duty/p>
This season I am placing my faith in copper oxychloride. Readily available at garden centres, it is considered an organic option by some, but I’ll place it within the so-so basket.
I plan to spray every 6 weeks throughout the dormant period in an attempt to kill off the spores. Then repeat spray at bud swelling and bud burst. It’s important to achieve full coverage while you spray, and to spray only on dry days.
Lime sulphur can also be considered highly effective against leaf curl and is permitted to be used by certified organic orchardists. Lime sulphur and copper oxychloride are not compatible however, so choose one or the other – not both!
Provided that you must:
There are a large number of business fungicides available from your garden centre which will also help to deal with your leaf curl problem. These will include chlorothalonil, amongst others. When you choose this route it is best to speak with the staff at your local garden centre who can be able that can assist you choose the best product.
For now, however, I will persevere before resorting to the chemicals. Wish me luck!
Author Box Fi McMurray has 1 articles online
Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.
Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You’ll find out more about Fi’s books at her website.
Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, together with her husband and two small children.
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