Treating and preventing “Peach Leaf Curl” on your peach, nectarine and almond trees.

Leaf Curl on a Fruit Tree

This morning is President’s Day, a day where we should at least temporarily pause and reflect on the foresight and the vision that George Washington and others had when they pondered how to best set up our country.  I must admit, like probably a few other million Americans, President’s Day usually means an extra day off or trying to decide on some sort of sale pushed at us through our junk email box (or even mail box)….but don’t worry, not trying to sell you anything today; I just want to be sure you take your fruit trees to the doctor for a checkup this month, and you’re the doctor.  You heard me YOU are the doctor and you are way more talented than you think.

Leaf Curl on Fruit Tree

You plant fruit trees, well, for the fruit!   And who doesn’t want to get as much fruit as you possibly can, but to do this, your trees must be in tip-top shape.  I think we all got it that our trees need to eat, most of us with a half opened bag of granulated fertilizer in our shed or garage ready to toss around our orchard….but we need to do more, way more, and that means to take a preventative medicine approach with our trees solving things before they even happen.  Come on, when we reach for that large glass of orange juice, don’t we have a quick conversation in our heads and ignore all the calories and sugar we are about to consume because, “its good for us” or “it will keep us from getting sick”?  Our fruit trees want the same type of pampering, for us to do something for them to keep them from getting sick.  Let me explain….

Peach, nectarine and almond trees can be susceptible to a ‘disease’ called “Peach Leaf Curl”, a malady that causes the leaves to come out all curled and deformed, and in severe cases, to become brown and drop off.  A curled, deformed leaf can’t really perform very well for the tree, so vigor and fruit production can be severely affected. It is weather driven, usually worse in locales that have a warm and  moist, rainy spring season.  Like some of you, I like to favor either organic approaches to pest control, or if not, products that are at least ‘soft’ to the environment.   Peach Leaf Curl is easily controlled with a product called “Liquid Cop”, literally just a liquid copper solution—nothing more, nothing less.  It’s not some complicated mix of ominous sounding ingredients that we can’t even pronounce.   No, it’s a product not technically labeled ‘organic’ by definition, but it is literally just elemental copper, something that WE humans actually eat if we take a multi vitamin (don’t you remember those Flintstone Vitamins as a kid) so a product pretty easy on the trees as well as ourselves.  Better yet, its actually applied when the tree is dormant as a preventative; make 1-2 applications before your tree flowers and begins to grow in the spring and you’re home free with NO worries!

Liquid Copper Spray Oil Application

I’m not done.  Before you pick up the keys and head out to the hardware store for a bottle of Liquid Copper, I need to tell you about one more, and that is Spray Oil, a product that prevents scale, mites, overwintering aphids and pretty much any laid-back critter that likes to overwinter on your tree.  Spray oil is pretty much like baby oil, a product that works not by poisoning insects but by suffocating them.  Mix to direction and spray, your trees soon to be free of the above listed insects plus a few more.  Almost any tree in practically any state usually gets hit by scale, mites or aphids…. their leaf sucking, energy draining habits can affect tree vigor and crop size.  You may have to control aphids off and on during the season, but spray oil should pretty much take care of scale and mites for the season.  Dormant sprays like Liquid Cop and spray oil can solve  many issues if taken the time to apply right now, preventatively.   Be sure to follow all label directions.  Remember, your trees will give to you as much as you are able to do for them, so up out of the chair and head outside (but you can wait till the snow melts).  You have some time.

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