[NAFEX] Peach Drop

Don Yellman dyellman at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 8 11:40:49 EDT 2003

Dylan Ford wrote:
> Dear All,
>         The blossoms on my peach trees (which survived a freak late
> snowstorm) developed into a bumper crop of fruit. I was waiting until after
> fruit drop to thin them, but last week all of the peaches got squishy and
> fell off the tree. Is it possible that two months of unrelenting rain and
> damp (I am thinking of building an ark) could have rotted them off, absent
> any obvious additional disease symptoms? Thanks.
>                                     dylan
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This is the kind of advice that always seems to come after the fact, but 
here is what I did to the peach trees this spring:  I began by 
aggressively thinning the branches (I did not dormant prune), heading 
back by 1/3 to 1/2, and removing nearly all of the vertical growth above 
the fruiting branches.  The objective was to get as much light and air 
circulation to the peaches as possible.  Then I thinned off 90% or more 
of the little peaches, which still left a heavy fruit set.  I did this 
in week 2 of May, during a brief dry period.  I have been doing the 
second thinning during the past week, removing still crowded fruits, and 
those showing mildew or insect damage.  I will have to do one or two 
more thinnings, since there are still too many healthy peaches up there.

I credit this early intervention for the beautiful set of large, 
fast-growing peaches, perhaps the best I have had at this stage, in 
spite of the nearly continuous cloudy, rainy, and cool weather.  I have 
only been able to spray twice due to the rains and wind, once with 
Imidan mixed with a little lime/sulfur, targeted at plum curculio and 
mildews, and again with Malathion to try to keep the oriental fruit moth 
at bay.  I don't know that the sprays have been a critical factor at 
all; insect problems seem to have taken a back seat to fungal and rot 
issues this year.  I am a little surprised that I haven't seen peach 
leaf curl even though it is normally rare here.  The climate has been 
much more like the coastal Pacific Northwest than Northern Virginia so 
far this spring.

I get two types of mildew on young peaches; one shows small rust colored 
patches, the other small white patches.  I am just guessing they are 
different mildew strains, but either one is the end of a young, 
developing peach.  Perhaps that is what caused your peaches to fall off, 
if your trees are mature and have set and retained fruit before.  I 
don't recall exactly where you are located (somwhere in the Carolinas?), 
but it sounds as if you have had almost exactly the same weather 
conditions I have faced.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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