Stone fruits have been valued for their fruit for many years. Apricot
and peaches originated from China and spread through old trade routes
3–4000 years ago. Nectarines are more recent (at least 2000 years).
Cherries and European plums originated in Europe and the Japanese plum
originated in China.
Stone fruits do well in areas with cold winters and hot dry summers. Peaches,
nectarines and some Japanese plums grow well at sea level, but apricots,
European plums and sweet cherries tend to produce light crops and excessive
vegetative growth in climates where there is inadequate winter chilling.
Most stone fruit require naturally fertile, free-draining soils.
It is important to select varieties with good resistance to diseases.
It is also important to search out any local knowledge on disease resistance.
Bacterial blast causes limb and sometimes tree death
Trees exposed to cold in autumn and early spring can develop cankers under
the bark of the trunk or branches. Cankers are usually associated with the
production of amber-coloured gum that contains bacteria and oozes on to
the outer bark. Unfortunately there are few control methods for bacteria
apart from copper sprays. A programme based on copper has proved to be very
effective over the years.
Bacterial spot causes black spots on fruit and cracking of bark
Develops quickly under warm wet conditions from November onwards. Copper
sprays have been used to help control bacteria in November/December.
Brown rot causes major fruit losses at harvest both
on the tree and postharvest
This is the most important and limiting of the stone fruit diseases. A
combination of warm and wet conditions at these times can cause high fruit
losses with the fruit collapsing within a few days. Modern fungicides
are remarkably effective against this disease. Sulfur can be used on most
stone fruit (except apricots) but will not be adequate in a high risk
Peach leaf curl causes reddening and distortion of leaves
of peaches and nectarines Can severely debilitate trees if uncontrolled over several
years. The most common treatment for leaf curl is copper, but ziram, thiram
or dithianon can also be used.