College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Department of Plant Pathology

Stone Fruits

Stone fruits also known as soft-fleshed tree fruits (Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, and Cherries)

Although several types of stone fruits are grown in North Carolina, by far peaches are the most commonly grown of this group of tree fruits. Historically, peach production was centered in the south-central piedmont region (Sandhills) of the state. During the last quarter of the 20th century, large acreages of peaches grown for shipment to markets outside of North Carolina declined in this region due to economics and adverse weather events. Production changed to small orchards (5 to 75 acres) located from the mountains to the coast. Peaches now are grown almost exclusively for sale at the farm or markets nearby. This has allowed for the sale of high quality, locally grown fruit without the cost of packing and shipping to distant markets while allowing the growers to have better control of fruit quality and prices. In North Carolina, peaches are grown on approximately 3,000 acres having an estimated annual farm-gate value of approximately $10 million.

Economic losses occur from diseases that directly infect the fruit or that weaken or kill trees. Brown rot caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola is the most common disease of stone fruits world-wide and if uncontrolled causes major losses as fruit are ripening. This fungus can also kill blossoms and twigs. A second fungal disease of fruit is peach scab caused by Fusicladosporium carpophilum. The use of fungicides is the primary method of controlling these two diseases. The bacterial disease, bacterial spot caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni effects fruit, leaves, and twigs and causes major fruit loss on susceptible cultivars in certain areas of the state and the world. Tree health can be severity affected by nematodes, root-rot and wood-rot fungi, bacterial canker caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae, and the peach-tree-short-life complex.

Some additional web sites:

More information about disease in peaches is available from the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic or David Ritchie.