New Tree, New Disease: Peach Leaf Curl
I've taken the plunge recently and treated myself to a dwarf nectarine tree. It arrived nicely wrapped and in bloom earlier this month and is currently sitting just outside the patio doors awaiting its new home.*
Thus the tree gets a daily inspection when I step outside into the back garden. Yesterday I spotted some of the leaves have taken on a distorted, blistered appearance with some areas showing a pinky, reddish hue. My initial fears have been confirmed via the internet: it's peach leaf curl :(
Having read the above link re the biology of this fungal disease, it looks like the tree arrived with the infection in place. The cold spring and sometimes damp weather has helped the fungus show its hand. As the tree is in its first year, I'm not intending on letting it fruit, so at least I won't suffer a reduction in the crop.
I've picked off and destroyed the leaves before the whitish fungal spores develop. With a bit of luck, the warmer weather forecast for next week means further spread will be thwarted (it doesn't like temperatures above 16 oC). According to Wikipedia, I need to keep the tree well-watered and with a good supply of nitrogen over the summer to minimize stress.
I was going to plant the tree out in a large pot in the centre of the patio. I'm now reconsidering that decision, as I'd like to build a shelter for it to overwinter under, so I don't need to spray with a copper-based fungicide in the autumn. I'm also interested in what the tree's supplier has to say...
Have you had any unexpected arrivals this spring?
* = waiting for me to shift a moribund box out of the designated pot first ;)