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Peach tree short life (PTSL)

Disease complex

Trees in their third to sixth year show a sudden wilt and collapse of new blossoms and death of branches, with tree death following within weeks of initial symptoms (A). The bark of affected trees appears reddish and water-soaked and gum exuding from these tissues often has a "sour sap" odor. Cracking of the outer bark is common and extends into the xylem. The cambial tissue is discolored, but the discoloration does not extend below the soil line (B). Few secondary or feeder roots are evident, but the primary roots generally appear healthy.

Distribution

Most important in the southeastern US.

Similar Species

PTSL may be confused with replant disorder, but can be differentiated by noting the rapid death of trees afflicted with PTSL. The disease can be differentiated from crown and root rot caused by Phytophthora spp. by noting the absence of the characterisitic discoloration of the crown or root tissue that is associated with Phytophthora crown and root rot.

Management

A number of abiotic and biotic factors are associated with PTSL. Factors that contribute directly to PTSL are winter injury (associated with bark injury), bacterial canker casued by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (associated with blossom and shoot death) and perennial canker (Leucostoma spp.). Other factors, such as the presence of ring nematodes (Criconemella spp.), budding onto susceptible rootstock (e.g., Nemaguard), pruning in late fall/early winter, planting trees in compacted soils or in soils with pH < 6.0 (which inhibits tree growth), predisposes trees to PTSL. Avoiding these factors will help reduce the incidence of disease.

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