Peach tree isn't peachy-keen

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

June 24, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Once again, my peach tree has clear stuff oozing from the fruit. It doesn't have other problems, except that it hasn't grown. Is this a disease?

There are several reasons peaches exude liquid. Often, drops of gum appear on stressed or even healthy fruits during ripening. Check fruits for insect feeding. Oriental fruit-moth larvae bore into fruits and their stems; plant bugs and stink bugs pierce and injure fruits, causing deformation. Pull off and dispose of insect-infested fruits. After identifying the pest, you may want to follow a spray schedule for control.

Poor tree growth is usually a result of poor soil conditions, such as compacted soil or bad drainage. Also, peaches, unlike apples and pears, should be fertilized each spring to encourage vigorous shoot growth. See our free publication, IPM Series: Stone Fruits, for more information.

Our child development center reported yellow stuff on the ground and called for an analysis. Our consensus is that it is a fungus, but I am sending you a photo just to allay fears.

The aptly named dog vomit fungus is nothing more than an eyesore. This slime mold appears overnight as a brightly colored mass several inches to more than a foot across. It occurs when spores blow in and land in a welcoming, wet environment -- usually mulch. It cannot damage plants or people and will shrivel, dry up and disappear in a matter of days. When its appearance is offensive, break it up with a rake or discard it in the trash.

Checklist

Storm-damaged tree limbs should be removed as soon as possible.

Warm-season grasses like Bermuda and zoysia can be fertilized in July using 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of area.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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