Posted by: lzlangdon | May 31, 2010

Shot-hole Borers

So, when I pruned the fruit trees in late winter/early spring, everything looked fine on the peach tree. There were tiny buds just starting to form on all the branches, and I believed that if I pruned carefully, I’d have a nice crop of sweet, juicy peaches this summer.

But as the spring wore on it became obvious that one major branch of my peach tree–representing about a third of the whole tree–was not going to develop any further. All the buds halted their growth, and the branches just dried up and died. The rest of the tree flowered, leafed out, and started setting small, fuzzy fruit, but this whole section of the tree appeared to have died.

Since the fruit was already forming, I knew I needed to get the netting over the trees soon, and that was one of this weekend’s projects. But, of course, before I netted the tree, I would need to prune off these dead branches and try to figure out what the problem was. I’m familiar with the common peach borer pest, but I didn’t see big oozy, sappy holes anywhere.

shot-hole borer damage in a peach branch

Tiny shot holes indicate the presence of shot-hole borers in my peach tree.

What I did see was a series of tiny, perfectly round, pinholes along one of the main junctures of the affected branch. Somewhere along the way last year, the tree must have undergone some drought stress or less-than-ideal nourishment that was just enough to give these guys an opportunity to move in and do their damage.

Hopefully the rest of the tree will remain unaffected, as will the neighboring plum tree.

Now that I’ve had to prune away a third of the peach tree it’s a pretty lop-sided mess. More of an open broken vase pattern than an open vase. Still, the remaining two-thirds of the tree looks healthy, and there’s plenty of fruit on the branches, so I’m optimistic about having a decent harvest and a surviving tree.


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