Posted by Pat Welsh
Friday, December 26th, 2014
Question from Jeannette:
Is there anything I can do next year to prevent sap on my fruit. The peaches are mottled, if that is a word that makes sense. I don’t know what the ripe fruit will be like but I think they will not be good. Thanks for your help Jeanntte Ps I live in Lake Elsinore Ca.
Answer from Pat:
Unfortunately peach trees are beset with many problems. When sap oozes from a peach fruit this is most likely caused by a bug, such as a stink bug, piercing the flesh of the peach. In some cases the fruit will shrivel and fall off the tree but sometimes it will remain, the fruit will mature and can be eaten but you will need to cut around the blemish. Winter hygiene, proper pruning with clean disinfected tools and dormant spray can help control pests and diseases on peaches. (See pages 59 and 62 of my book for more information on dormant spray and peach leaf curl.) Whereas some organic gardeners don’t use dormant spray others feel that with peaches one must use it due to the prevalence of peach leaf curl. Growing an organic garden with rich organic soil, earthworm castings on the ground, mulching with manure in late fall or spring, and the presence of birds and many beneficial insects all combine to help control pests.
However, there is also another factor that may be causing juice to ooze from fruit and this is sunburn. You live in Lake Elsinore where the sun is fierce. Deciduous fruit, such as apple, peach, apricot and nectarine, needs to be properly shaded by leaves so it is not sunburned. If one lives in a mild, warm-winter climate and has planted a variety that needs more winter chill than it is getting, then it is not adapted to one’s specific climate zone. Varieties that need many hours of winter chill cannot go into dormancy in mild-winter climates. This may prevent them from dropping their leaves completely in fall and then they may fail to leaf out sufficiently in spring to shade the fruit. If you think this is the problem, there is little you can do other than perhaps finding some other way to shade the fruit, such as covering the fruiting branches of the tree with floating row covers. These would also help to keep off pests. In future, encourage dormancy in winter by letting the tree go a bit dry in fall. Clean, prune and dormant spray after the leaves have dropped off. Mulch, but don’t feed it in fall, then feed lightly in spring as the buds are opening.