UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

Peach Leaf Curl and the Drama That Unfolds

This year was a tough year for the peaches and nectarines.  It seemed that even though we sprayed with a copper oil spray and with a registered fungicide at the right time, the PLC was very noticeable on the trees this spring.  Treating now is useless as is pulling off the infected leaves.  Never the less, many people do it because it makes them feel better and they don't see the infected leaves anymore.  Chuck Ingles on the other hand is trying to do something about it!  He has been working on methods that home gardeners may use to thwart PCL withouit the use of the chemical recently removed from sale to home gardeners, specifically Lime Sulfur and the copper fungicide Microcop.  The only fungicide products left for treating peach leaf curl are those containing lower levels of copper (such as Liqui-Cop), copper soap, and the non-copper synthetic fungicide chlorothalonil.  Because the level of copper is quite low in these products they are not as effective as Microcop was.  Chuck conducted the trial at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center demonstration orchard (and one tree in a private yard)  to determine what works best for controlling peach leaf curl now that the most effective products are no longer available. 
The treatments that Chuck used included:  Lime sulfur, Liquicop, Concern Copper Soap Plus Oil, Agribon medium weight row cover fabric, Agribon plus Liquicop, Kelp Extract

The results:  Compared to untreated branches, those treated with Liqui-Cop averaged about 70% control, copper soap 80% control, and Agribon by itself just under 60% control, but these treatments were not statistically different. Agribon generally kept the branches dry, although some moisture was evident after heavy rains. Two treatments provided nearly

complete control: (1) Agribon plus Liqui-Cop, and (2) lime sulfur (late fall) followed by Microcop (late winter). Maxicrop (kelp) did not work at all and substantially increased the severity on some of the branches.


The two liquid copper products have fairly similar efficacy—they improved control and perhaps sufficiently, but still not great. The control achieved, although resulting in some unsightly damage, is probably enough to allow the tree to produce good shoot growth with enough healthy leaves to nourish the rapidly growing young fruit. Agribon likely allowed some rain to penetrate to the branches. It may be best held up with a post in the middle to allow rain to run off down the sloped sides rather than having a flat surface on top, but it must be fastened securely because of strong winds. Agribon plus Liqui-Cop worked quite well, probably because the fairly good control with Liqui-Cop was enhanced by drier conditions. The combination of lime sulfur (in late fall) followed by Microcop (in late winter) was highly effective, as expected. Normally only one of these products was used for both fall and winter applications, but insufficient product was available for both. Maxicrop (kelp), even sprayed eight times, provided no control at all.

For more details on Chuck Ingels Peach Leaf Curl Trials, go to the Sacramento County Website at:  http://cesacramento.ucdavis.edu/Pomology/____Tree_Fruit_Crops/2012_Peach_Leaf_Curl_Trial_at_the_Fair_Oaks_Horticulture_Center/

Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 2:08 PM


Great article! Just what I have been searching for. I would like to edit this article, give you credit as the author and submit it to our local newspaper. So many people stopping by our booths have remarked on this problem. It is satisfying to have something to reply to them! Yea.

Posted by Michael Anne Foley on May 1, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Much appreciated. I will probably get no fruit this year from either one of the trees.

Posted by Meredith French on May 2, 2012 at 11:24 AM

I sprayed three times with a copper soap ((Soap Shield) and got pretty good results. There are a few leaves that have the fungus showing (which I have pulled off) and some of the fruit shows damage, but the new shoots are healthy and vigorous and there are plenty of unaffected leaves. I would say I got 95% coverage.

Posted by Donna P Duerk on May 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Great to have this information available for future public inquiries!

Posted by Emily Shibata on May 3, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Since spores splash up onto leaves during rains, last winter I tried covering the area under the trees with newspaper held down with leaves, etc. This worked very well with a new tree, relatively well with a somewhat larger tree (quite complete coverage of the area beneath) but poorly with two large trees. Next spring I'm going to try laying down painters' plastic dropcloths (cheap to buy) ,held down with rocks, to give protection beyond drip lines.They will have to be slit on one side to allow me to spread them under the trees, and that should let rain water flow to the roots, though irregularly.

Posted by Bill Keep on May 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Great information! Now, where can the home gardener buy lime sulfur, and Microcop? local nurseries in my area don't seem to carry lime sulfur. I'm not sure I've seen Microcop, but I may have missed that one. For now, we are stripping the affected leaves and hoping for the best.

Posted by Sue Carracedo on May 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Are any of these approved for organic growing?

Posted by Janet Waring on May 8, 2012 at 12:45 PM


Posted by Betty Williams on May 10, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Super info--timely and with backup to give us more credibility when we convey needed info to the public. Thank you!

Posted by Elaine M Parker on May 14, 2012 at 6:05 PM

many thanks. this is very helpful, well written and SO TIMELY.

Posted by Win Rogers on May 15, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Thanks, I look forward to trying it out.

Posted by Richard Colbert on May 17, 2012 at 11:56 PM

i am planting pepper and its leaves are yellow, what can i do?

Posted by jaqueline candelaria on June 17, 2015 at 3:53 PM

Hi there,  
I'm thinking about certification for my farm. Can I get certified if i'm using Liqui-Cop as a dormant spray on my fruit trees? My understanding it that it is considered organic, but not on the OMRI approved list.  

Posted by Mary Rand on January 15, 2017 at 10:05 AM

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