Controlling Peach Pests, Disease & Insect
Growing peaches in S.E. Wisconsin is not a foolproof task. Due to our cold winters, success is limited by the cold temperatures and peach pests. Best results are obtained by planting very cold-hardy varieties, such as Reliance Peach, Contender, and Veteran.
Peach tree flower buds are only winter hardy to about zero degrees Fahrenheit. When we get colder than zero degrees, we start losing flower buds. Because of this, peaches sited where a microclimate exists will increase the changes of getting a peach crop. These sites include protected sites such as a courtyard or S.E. side of building. The closer you are to Lake Michigan the more protection you have (due to the lake effect). The further west you are, the less protection is afforded.
Despite these issues, the thrill of producing a crop of chin-dripping, tree ripened peaches is very rewarding. Nothing beats the taste of tree-ripened peaches!
“As far as peach pests, insect and disease problems are concerned, I find that growing peaches in S.E. WI is much easier than other fruit crops.”
Compared to apples, there are very few peach pests that might hinder production of a quality fruit crop.
In the 17 years that I have been growing peaches in Wisconsin, the only major peach pests (insect) I have encountered is Plum Curculio. The only major fungal issue I have found is Peach Leaf Curl. Yes, there are other peach pests (insects and diseases), but so far they have not been major issues on my peach crops. With only two peach pests to worry about, and only a few sprays needed for control, peaches are a relatively easy crop to grow provided you have a protected site for planting.
Peach Leaf Curl
Peach Leaf Curl is caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. This fungus overwinters on the bark and buds of the tree. In early spring when the leaf buds swell and the bud scales crack, this fungus gets into the meristem. Once in the meristem, it causes the leaves to be deformed as they develop. The leaves emerge very twisted and usually are puckered up with red or yellow blotches on each leaf. This issue is primarily cosmetic since it only affects the leaves. The issue will resolve itself by mid-summer as the summer heat renders the fungus ineffective and normal sized leaves will then appear on all new growth. The diseased leaves will usually drop off in July.