University of Maryland Extension

Stone fruit problems

Peach, Cherry, Plum, Apricot, and Nectarine Problems

peaches with spray damage
Cultural and Environmental 

puckered peach tree leaves

Larvae in wood


Cultural Management Practices for Pest Control in Stone Fruit Plantings

  • Disease resistant stone fruit cultivars. The only significant disease to which certain available varieties of peaches and nectarines are resistant is bacterial spot disease. Make it a priority to consider disease resistance when selecting any cultivar.
  • Fertilization. Because stone fruit trees are shallow rooted, they are subject to deficiencies in nitrogen and potassium, which they use at high levels and also is easily leached from the root zone. Trees that are in a weakened state due to poor nutrition often fail to produce the adequate carbohydrate reserves needed to resist cold injury in the winter.
  • Dormant pruning. Annual dormant pruning is extremely important for stone fruit trees, however, dormant pruning should never be initiated before March 1 because of susceptibility to winter damage and stress. Be especially attentive to overly vigorous growth on peaches and nectarines. A full foliar canopy will produce heavy shade that causes interior shoots to be thin, willowy, and weak. Cut these out after harvest because they usually die in early winter and serve as points of invasion for Leucostoma canker fungus. Remove all Leucostoma cankers on small limbs of any stone fruit tree, and remove all black knots as well.
  • Trunk painting. Painting the trunks of young stone fruit trees with white latex (water-based) exterior house paint will protect the interior bark tissues from damaging temperature extremes during the winter months by reflecting strong sunlight. Apply the paint to the trunk and lower scaffold limbs in the early fall. Do not use oil-based paint.
  • Weed and grass control. Keep the area under the tree canopy free of all grass and weeds because these plants harbor plant bugs and compete strongly with the shallow-rooted trees for water and nutrients. Peach trees grown in heavy sod frequently develop branches at sharp crotch that are weak and subject to breakage in wind and under a crop load. Peach trees grown without grass and weed competition tend to develop limbs with strong, broad crotch angles.

  • Sanitation. Regularly pick up and destroy dropped fruits under all peach, nectarine, and plum trees; these often harbor the immature larvae of the oriental fruit moth and the plum curculio. Do not allow rotted fruit to remain in trees. Routinely pick and destroy any fruit showing systems of rot as harvest approaches. Do not allow any unharvested fruit to remain in the trees for it will surely rot. Where fully rotted fruits and fruit mummies are found in the trees, the supporting twig should be cut out because the fungus is established in the wood.


Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2021. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.