Skip to Content

Extensive Phony Peach Disease in a Georgia Peach Orchard

Phony peach disease, caused by the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium, is a dangerous disease of peaches in Georgia and elsewhere in the Coastal Plain of the Southeast.  Infected trees are initially stunted due mainly to shortened internodes between leaves and limited growth.  Over time, less fruit are produced, and fruit size diminishes as well; eventually, the tree is no longer productive, and given enough time, the tree will die either as a direct result of the pathogen or indirectly due to stress and other factors.  Tree death is currently estimated to occur 4-5 years after the initial infection.  When identified, it is recommended that diseased trees be destroyed and removed from the orchard to prevent further spread of the bacterium by sharpshooter insects, the predominant vector of the pathogen in the Southeast.  In this relatively young orchard (~ 6-7 years old), this practice was not followed, and 80-90% of trees are now showing symptoms of phony peach.    

Posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

About Phil Brannen

Phil Brannen is a Professor in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management, where he also received an M.S. in Plant Pathology, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Auburn University. He has extensive experience with disease management programs in numerous cropping systems. He serves as the extension fruit pathologist for Georgia – conducting research and technology transfer for multiple fruit commodities. His efforts are directed towards developing IPM practices to solve disease issues and technology transfer of disease-management methods to commercial fruit producers. He also teaches the graduate level Field Pathology Course, the History of Plant Diseases and their Impact on Human Societies Course, team-teaches the IPM Course, coordinates the Viticulture and Enology in the Mediterranean Region Course (Cortona, Italy), and guest lectures in numerous other courses throughout the year.