The plant grew rapidly, and now has put on 10-12" of growth on all the branches. I was surprised about 3 weeks ago when the tallest branch suddenly flopped over. There was a small wound of some sort, and the top ~18" or so of the tree was gone. (it is about 4' tall total, and maybe 1/2" at the base.
I noticed that the fast growing tips of maybe half the branches got shriveled and crisp about a week or so ago, but only a half inch or less of the tip of each branch. I thought maybe it was during the 3 days or so we were gone, and I wasn't able to water the plants. The rest of the tree looked a healthy green.
Now I notice that the tree appears to be putting on new growth out around the former tips of each branch, with 1-2 new growths appearing. Some are already nearly half an inch in length.
However, the big problem that I see is that maybe 40% of the tips of the branches - most of them with the tip damage - are oozing a clear, gelatinous mass that stays right in the area. I'm not sure if this is just because the tree is very rapidly growing, with a lot of turgor pressure right now, or a sign of a more serious problem.
The tree had a couple of spots on the trunk where it looked like it sustained damage in shipping. Normally I wouldn't consider such a tree, but I had already tried 4 different nurseries, plus 3 or 4 of the other stores in the area that have fruit trees in the Spring. Home Depot was the only one with a Hale Haven peach, which was the variety I wanted. These spots have completely healed over now, due to the rapid growth of the plant.
There are always a number of small ants on the tree, and I've noticed some small round areas appearing at the base of each leaf. It almost looks like the ants are getting some sort of fluid there, but I'm not sure if it is actually harmful. I'm keeping my eye out for aphids, and if they appear, I'm going to spray regularly.
Anyone have ideas for what might be causing this issue? Tree appears to be growing very rapidly, and looks like it would be on track to go from about 4' tall to 6' or 7' this year, except that the sudden tip dieback and 'gelatin' on some of the branch tips worries me. I'm wondering if this might be infested with something. If so, perhaps I need to cut my losses now, take it back, and get a new tree? I'm hoping not, but still wondering.