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Monday, July 17, 2017

Wilting Peach for No Apparent Reason

Q. I'm curious if there is any other reason other than drought or overwatering that would cause my donut peach growing in a container to wilt within 24 hours? I pruned the dead branches off and touched very little of the live wood.
Donut peach wilting

A. Donut peach, sometimes called bagel peach, Saturn peach, pan tao peach, and a bunch of other names, are a good choice for our climate and soils. They are a novelty but deliver very sweet fruit great for eating fresh and birds love too! A problem that I have mentioned in the past as well as how to avoid it.
Stark Saturn Donut peach
            Thanks for the pictures and I will post them here and on my blog. I understand it is still in the container and you will plant it soon.
            For leaf wilting to occur, something is stopping the water from reaching the leaves. This could be a soil problem, root damage, stem damage or direct damage to the leaves. Obviously, a lack of water or watering too often so the roots suffocate can cause wilting.
            A common problem this time of years is applying fertilizer or strong compost too close to the trunk. This can cause the leaves to wilt because of the high nutrient content (salts) in fertilizers and many rich composts. If applied next to the trunk or against it, it can cause plant wilting followed by death.
            Apply fertilizers and compost no closer than 12 inches from the trunk. If the container is smaller than this, then use a very small amount and apply it more often.
Stark Saturn Donut peach with bird damage
            Check for borer damage on the trunk. I had trees coming from the nursery, both container and bare root, with borers already in the trunk. If your tree had borers in it the same season you bought it, the borer came with the tree when it was bought. No extra charge!
            Spray the trunk with water from a spray bottle several times until the stem is soaked. If the borer is active, you will see globs of brown or dark red sap coming from the stem. Sometimes I can squeeze the stem with my first two fingers and I can feel “sponginess” where the borer is feeding just under the bark. Dig it out with a sanitized, sharp knife and let it heal.

            It is possible that spray drift from weed killers could do it but I may be grasping for straws with that one. 
When using compost as a fertilizer for fruit trees keep the compost away from the tree trunk.

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