Save my peaches from borers, peach leaf curl, Oriental Fruit moths and who knows what else!

My Red Haven and CoralStar peaches are now five and four years old this month and they have been teaching me about the importance of figuring out a good spray program for the humid Midwest (I grew up in the arid West where my mother never sprayed and got decent fruit). I’ve been slow to learn …

Year 1 and 2: Good growth and picked off flowers hoping for fruit later;

Year 2/3: Some mild peach leaf curl and only one peach, which a kid who was visiting picked green! I didn’t know what to do about peach leaf curl, but started researching and learned about copper and bought some. That winter I got busy and then couldn’t quite figure out when to apply the copper because it was always snowing, raining or freezing and I didn’t understand if it would work to just throw the powder over the trees. I do spray some multi-fruit spray, but not sure how much good it did.

Year 3/4: I applied some All Seasons Horticultural dormant oil to my trees, but possibly not timed perfectly because of all the rain in spring. … another problem was I did that the day I’d planned to do copper and then realized that you can’t use copper for some time after oil… I never got the copper done because of some other commitments that came up and weeks of rain. Terrible peach leaf curl and most leaves died back and all blossoms died back and then wilting on tips that got gummy later in the year. My extension agent said the gummy tips was probably Oriental Fruit Moth. Then I realized that the white plastic covering the trunks had gotten too tight and damaged the trunk and now I have borers. I figure out more about spraying and started wondering if peaches were not meant for southeast Michigan or ME (my other fruit trees are currently pretty healthy and have given me some fruit), but I’m feeling determined to figure this out! I hate non-organic pesticide, but went and bought some Sevin and jabbed inside the gaping holes in the trees with something sharp and sprayed inside and dug around the bark below the tree and found more signs of borers.

THIS YEAR: I’ve done more research and bought Daconil and sprayed the peaches twice for peach leaf curl (never used the copper). I’ve also sprayed with horticultural oil, but then there was a rainstorm… will spray again today probably. I keep looking at spray schedules and read about mating disruption/traps/beneficial insects/planting sunflowers to bring in predators/etc./etc. I’m thoroughly overwhelmed. I have two peaches, two apples, an Asian and a European plum, a sour cherry, a sweet cherry and need some kind of spray schedule that is not hugely different for each of them! I guess I was overly optimistic because I grew up in a dry climate with less disease pressure.

Anyway, so far I haven’t tasted a single peach. I’m feeling more optimistic this year since the flower buds that are starting don’t look like they’re all dried up. Maybe Daconil is helping with the peach leaf curl, which hopefully strengthens the trees to better fight other pests/diseases. Assuming that is the case, I need to continue those sprays each winter while doing something to address the Oriental Fruit Moths and borers. I think I need a home spraying guide for Dummies! The advice I read for larger growers doesn’t make as much sense for me (mating disruption for Oriental Fruit moths, for instance, is not supposed to work for small growers). I’m also planning to build up better soil quality and will put aged manure around the base of each tree in the next week, and maybe plant onions in the area nearby (read that borers don’t like them and my friend who is an avid organic grower talks about how prevention through good soil, natural solutions is key). I definitely lean toward natural controls if available/possible, but again am seeing the need for a more solid spray schedule. Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

You might find below thread helpful. Do a search for each issue you have using the search box and you’ll find different suggestions on how to treat all of them. Then you can sort of build your own spray program.
Good luck!


I can feel your pain. I would suggest the same thing @Susu did. Read how @scottfsmith has done with his fruit trees.

Re. Spray, not only what to spray, when to spray is as important. I know it can be overwhelming. You don’t need to know or remember everything at once. One or two things at a time.

I will re-read your post and will try to give you some advice the best I know as I am also a backyard grower with a few peach trees and do not like to spray chemicals. We are in the same boat. Hang in there.


Where about in Michigan you are? Is your extension service agent optimistic about peachgrowing in your area?

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Tippy has given you some good advice. You should be able to grow peaches in SE Michigan. They have commercial peach orchards scattered throughout SE MI.

Just a few tips on growing peaches. You only need to spray your Daconil once during the dormant season. Even if the rain washes it off, as long as it has a chance to dry before it rains, it will protect your trees from leaf curl. Just make sure you get the Daconil on one time after the leaves fall, but before bud break in the spring.

Don’t worry about spraying dormant horticultural oil on your peach trees. It’s a waste of time.

If you want a low impact approach, Scott’s schedule is a good one. If you want something simpler, then you’ll have to use a bit more synthetic chemicals. There are some really good threads on protecting peaches from bugs and fungus with synthetics.

Just post back if you are interested in a more aggressive approach to pest control for your peaches and I’m sure you’ll get lots of responses.


Hi, Susu - Thanks for the link to this excellent spray schedule. I especially liked your idea – and Scott’s idea – to create my own spray schedule that fits for my climate/situation. For instance, I noticed he doesn’t deal with peach leaf curl, which I’ve learned is a major problem for me here.

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@mamuang - Thanks for the moral support! I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Yes, I did find Scott’s spray schedule helpful. Also, I live in Southeast Michigan a little south of Ann Arbor. We are zone 6A and Olpea is right that we grow peaches commercially in Michigan, though mostly in west Michigan along the fruit belt where Lake Michigan moderates the climate. The area where I live is a little more challenging for growing peaches – and the peach farmers in West Michigan also got almost no peaches last year because it was such a tough, rainy spring with unusual freezes, etc. – but in theory I should be able to grow peaches if I can keep my trees healthy.

@Olpea - Yes, you’re right that peaches grow in Michigan. Actually both of the varieties of peaches I grow – Redhaven and Coral Star – were developed in Michigan, which I thought was pretty neat.

Your tips are helpful. I read some information suggesting spraying twice if your peach leaf curl was extremely severe (which mine was), but it’s good to know that usually spraying once is adequate. That simplifies things some. I also appreciate your feedback on timing.

Why is dormant oil a waste of time for peaches?

I would be interested in more information on a simpler approach that includes synthetic chemicals. While Scott’s schedule is a great ideal, realistically right now I just want to get the problems under control.

I would advise using the copper. Depending on how advanced your trees are now, you could do it yet this spring.

Then, say, copper at fall, Daconil in spring.

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@ltilton - The green tips are out and the buds are swelling and so I’m thinking it would be better to not do any more dormant sprays this year. I could do the copper in fall and Daconil in spring going forward. Do you sprinkle copper dust on the tree or mix it with water and spray? This is probably a really stupid question, but since I’d really appreciate the answer I’ll ask anyway …

I re-read your post. The problem you have are:
Peach Leave Curl
Peach boreres
Oriental Fruit Moth ( and I bet Plum Curculio, too)

The PLC is an easy fix. You can use eithe Daconil (chlorothalonil) during a dormant season. Do it after leaves fall in late autumn or early spring before bud break. I usea copper hydroxide called Kocide 3000. Both are effective for PLC but the tim8ng has to be right.

By the way, I am very happy, @olpea chimes in. He is our resident peach expert. @scottfsmith is the organic fruit grower guru.

Peach tree borers. Scott uses neem paste. I don’t have pure neem yet so I use pesticide called Triazicide. Sevin should work. Yo7 also should dig around the base of your trees looking for frass or holes of borers. You can check them from now and intermittently during a growing season. Use a wire to stab them inside their holes is my best revenge, in addition to chemical spray.

OFM and PC, that is the biggest challenge. They start attacking your fruit as soon as fruitlets start to form. You can do Scoot’s way or chemical way. Using chemicals is more effective and cheaper but I don’t like to use them. An Organic way is more work, more expensive and if you modify Scott’s way like I do, it is 100% effective. I have modified his method because I only have a few trees.

Good luck

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What kind of copper do you use? Some are wettable powder (mix with water to spray. Some is in liquid form. Read label on how to apply the copper you use.

Try to avoid using copper after trees leaf out. It will burn leaves if you do not use the right ratio. You don’t need copper now.

I also suspect that cold temp where you are is a likely killer of your peach flower buds all these years. Peach trees usually set fruit by year 2 or definitely by year 3. You have not had many fruit set. It is tough to grow peach in a cold zone.

I’m not aware of any copper compound you dust on the tree, and it would mostly just go onto the ground, where it can be toxic to organisms like earthworms. The package should have directions on the label.

@mamuang and @ltilton - What I previously bought is Bonide Copper Fungicide Dust. The label says you can dust it or spray it. When I first bought it I did not have a spray tank and planned to dust it, but had visuals of just what you are saying ltilton – of it going all over the ground – and never used it. It sounds like spraying is the preferred method for fruit trees. I now have a sprayer and feel more comfortable spraying and can try spraying the copper in the fall. Is this an OK brand?

@mamuang - Before I bought any of my trees I was reading this forum (or back then it was many of the same people on Garden Web or Houzz) including comments from @olpea and @scottfsmith. I was so excited to stumble across this forum and find so many names I recognized again. So helpful. Despite all the reading I’m having a hard time with spraying, partly because I’m very squeamish with chemicals.

I read in the above link about Scott using Neem paste and saw his link to order some. Does it work if you already have borers or is it just a preventative? I could get it and cover all traces of borers on the outside with it. I tried sticking sharp stuff in there to kill the borers, but had no idea if that was effective. I also sprayed Sevin in the holes in the tree and also had no idea how to measure whether I was having any success, but the problem seems to be getting worse. Do you spray your Triazicide just in the holes or along the trunk or ??? What is your timing? Last year I dug around the tree and found lots of frass. This year I am seeing more holes. I will go outside and check for them in the next week, but would like a plan of what to do about them.

Regarding OFM and PC, what is your modified method of Scott’s way? I’m open to using chemicals or not at this point. I’d like to get the problems under control. After that I can alter my program little bit at a time, but right now I want to save my trees.

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After Houzz bought Gardenweb, the quality went down hill. Scott left and founded this forum. Most of us followed him here. Welcome home, Karen.

Bonide copper is copper sulfate. I never use it sonI’ll leave it to those who use it to let you know.

Neem paste, I assume it is a preventative measure. You need to get rid of the borers inside the trees first. Hope Sevin does the job. When you use a wire like acoat hanger wire, you need to move the wire around. Some holes go straight in. Some go down. Others go side way.

I don’t put down nematodes. I spray Surround WP (wettable powder) as crop protectant and do a lot of bagging. For peaches, Clemson paper bags are very good. I have only a few trees so bagging is doable. For people with a lot of trees, bagging may not be an option.

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In the Midwest, insect pests which primarily affect peaches are borers, OFM, PC, and stink bug. Dormant oil will have no effect on any of these pests. Some spray guides suggest dormant oil for peaches, but that’s really for areas which have mites or green peach aphid, which you shouldn’t have in your area.

For a simpler approach, this is what I’d recommend to you. You need three chemicals. Daconil (which you already have) Captan, and Sevin (which you may already have). And one household item - vinegar.

Regarding the Sevin, be aware there are two different formulations of it. One formulation has the active ingredient carbaryl. The other has the active ingredient zeta cypermethrin. You want the one with the zeta cypermethrin.

Here is some you can buy on the internet:

Here is some Captan on the internet:

Use your Daconil in the dormant season for leaf curl. Most places in the U.S. one dormant spray with good coverage will completely control leaf curl. In some places where leaf curl is especially troublesome a second spray could be warranted, but I suggest you not worry about that just yet. If you are concerned you may have very high leaf curl pressure, do your one spray just before spring. Make sure it’s before bud swell in the spring. Just go out there and spray the leaf-less wood in March and that should do the trick for you.

Next use your Sevin (zeta cypermethrin) to spray the trunks of the trees for borers (it is labeled for peach tree borer). Try to spray the insecticide in the borer cavities if possible. Let some of the insecticide pool at the base of the trees. You need to kill those borers.

Now, for protecting your fruit. Don’t spray anything on the tree until the small shucks of the peaches start to split. Here is a picture of what shuck split looks like on a peach:


Once peaches are at shuck split. Spray the trees with the labeled rate of your Sevin (z. cypermethrin) and the labeled rate of your Captan. Mix both chemicals in your sprayer. The Captan I suggested to you is in a per acre rate, but that rate is pretty easy to convert to a pump up sprayer rate. Add 1/2 tablespoon of your household vinegar per gallon of water to your pump up sprayer before adding your Captan and Sevin. Spray the trees to get good coverage on the leaves and fruit, and spray the trunks a little bit to protect against future borers.

Spray your trees with that mixture starting at shuck split once per week for four weeks. Don’t be late on the first spray. Do it at shuck split, not sometime after shuck split.

Once you are done with the first four sprays, move your spray interval to every other week. Stop spraying a couple weeks before the fruit is ready to harvest. I’m guessing Redhaven will ripen sometime around the beginning of Aug. in your area. Coralstar will be 3 weeks later (assuming the peach trees are true to label).

Make sure you use all the spray you’ve mixed up in the sprayer. Don’t try to “save” any unused spray for the next spray, because it will lose it’s potency in your pump up sprayer.

If you follow that spray regimen, that should give you a very high probability of success of getting sound fruit to harvest. Once you get some good looking fruit, you may have to take precautions to protect it from squirrels, depending on the squirrel pressure in your area. They like to beat you to the harvest of the fruit.


I am also just south of Ann Arbor. I grow mostly Apples and Pears. I just planted a few peaches this year.
I go through a lot of Captan and if you are interested I would split a bag with you.

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@mamuang - Good to be here! I went out yesterday morning with a coat hanger and felt like a dentist pushing around the trunk through the holes for any soft areas and jabbing them. Hopefully that helped. There is some pretty bad damage on one side of each trunk, running a few inches down the trunk. One looks like the tree has made substantial progress to regrow to fill in the attacked area and the other is still looking more raw. I still need to spray with Sevin. I’m glad to know about Neem for future reference after I hopefully get this under control. Also, I appreciate you sharing your spray program. I’m still thinking through a more synthetic vs. natural approach.

@Olpea - Thanks. Your post is a wealth of information. It’s so good to know what peach pests are most prevalent in the Midwest. OK, I won’t use my dormant oil on my peach anymore. Is dormant oil useful in the Midwest for other fruit trees/bushes? I’d also been using it for others … Or, am I starting a pesticide museum? I can keep it right next to my unopened copper…

On that subject, I have the Sevin with carbaryl and so would need to buy the newer formula for your spray program. From what I was reading, it sounds like the new formula is longer lasting and targets more pests – is that the reason you recommend it over carbaryl? Both appear to be equally lethal to bees and beneficials from what I read. Is that the general consensus? Thanks also for the links for where to purchase both Sevin and Captan. Looks like a good company. I do have vinegar :slight_smile: (although it’s been harder to get here lately with the virus)!

Your suggested spray schedule is very clear and easy to follow/understand – suddenly lightbulbs are going off that weren’t when I was reading other publications (like Purdue’s) that I’ve used over the years, but that didn’t answer a lot of my questions. I especially appreciated the photo of shuck split – wouldn’t have known that.

My plan for peaches is looking like this:

  1. Continue spraying Daconil annually in March. If peach leaf curl really seems like a major problem going forward I could add some copper in fall, too.
  2. Keep jabbing at the borers and follow your recommendations to go at them with Sevin. Maybe someday if I have them controlled I could move to a preventative and try Neem on the trunks … Can you combine Organics/Integrated Pest Management with a Synthetics program or does one need to choose one?
  3. Concerning the spray schedule with Captan, Sevin and vinegar it’s a clear, easy to understand approach. Still reading and weighing the options and will post when I decide what to do.

@ribs1 Thanks for that kind offer. I might take you up on that if I decide to go ahead with the synthetics approach. When would you need to know by? Out of curiosity, do you have a simple spray program you could share for your pears and apples? Like I said in my original post I am looking for a way to simplify/streamline and am wondering about any overlap.

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I use dormant oil on pears. I spray them just before bud swell to prevent pear blister mite. I occasionally use a 1% hort oil on apples if I start seeing problems with mites in the growing season. If you use it during the growing season, make sure it’s labeled for that. Some hort oils are truly just for the dormant season.

Some people spray oil during the dormant season on apples to control aphids, scale and mites. I don’t have a problem with aphids and scale on apples. I do occasionally get mites on apples, but that’s only because I spray apples with pyrethroids which can cause mite flares in apples. The Sevin I suggested to you is a pyrethroid and will likely cause mites if used much on apples.

I prefer the Sevin with the active ingredient Z. Cypermethrin vs. the one with carbaryl. The one with carbaryl breaks down more quickly and so is not as effective for commercial control of pests which affect peaches.

You can combine Organics with Synthetics. That’s what Scott does with his spray schedule.

Integrated Pest Management can also use synthetics or organics, or both. IPM is basically using the very minimum of pesticides to control the pest, vs. spraying on a schedule.

I really don’t use IPM, not because I love to spray lots of chemicals, but because stink bug has such drastic economic consequences for me, that if I don’t keep some viable insecticide residue on the trees, until the preharvest interval, I start getting economic damage. Customers don’t want to buy catfaced fruit. For all the talk of consumers willing to accept ugly fruit, very few customers in my market are willing to accept ugly fruit as number one fruit.

There are some years where summers are dry. I’ve found I can stretch my spray intervals during dry weather.

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I use Alan’s spray schedule.

I have modified his schedule a little with updated information (mostly from Alan)
I now use Avaunt (insecticide) Captan and Myclobutanil (Rally 40wsp)
You can let me know if you need captan at any time. I will be buying a whole bag this year no matter what, although you will likely want to start spraying around petal fall. If you want a lot, we can split the cost. If you want a little you can have it.

Karen and I are both in Washtenaw county SE Michigan.
There are plenty of commercial peach growers here. The biggest problem for them is late frosts.
The west side of Michigan is more moderated by Lake Michigan than we are.