CHERRY TREE ISSUES

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by MITCH, Aug 29, 2017.

  1. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    I am writing to you in hope that you may be of assistance as I have a treasured Cherry tree that seems to have developed a problem and I am at a loss as to identifying it or how to deal with / treat or save the tree.

    This Cherry tree (I believe it is a sweet cherry or a Bing Cherry?) was a gift from my deceased mother and we have enjoyed it for about 20 years. It has always been healthy until mid-summer last year - when it seemed to lose its leaves earlier than usual. I notice a small area of the tree had this white patch of stuff on it - looks like a surface mold or fungus.

    Then come spring of 2017 - and I noticed that a lot more of the tree had this white stuff on it --- and a large section of the tree failed to bud at have any foliage at all (Pictures 1 and 2) In speaking with a nursery - they recommended I cut of all of those areas - cutting below any branch area that had the white stuff and then use a wound dressing on the cuts.

    I did remove all those sections (some limbs and branches cut off were 2 to 6 inches in diameter) and immediately covered all cuts with dressing.

    It has been about a month - I have noticed that after removing the areas - the cherry tree did drop a number of leaves (perhaps shock?) and I have noticed that more of the white stuff has re-appeared below an area that was cut of (picture 3)

    This past week - more leaves have fallen - they seem to yellow off (mostly ) and have spots on them - (pictures 4 and 5 )

    I would really like to preserve this tree if possible however - all the research I have done has left me in the dark as to what I am dealing with or what to do.


    If anyone can look at the pictures (I can take more if you wish) and be able to assist in any manner - provide some information - direction or resources for me to contact. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you. Mitch
     

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  2. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member

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    The white stuff is the fruiting body of a crustose fungus. The fungus itself must have spread throughout the main branches of the tree that show the fruiting bodies. It is likely that the tree cannot be saved, but you might have a chance to save a portion of it if you remove each infected branch completely as possible, right down to the single main trunk. If the fungus has not grown into the main trunk, part of the tree might survive. However, due to size of the wounds on the main trunk that this will create, you will be lucky to avoid secondary fungus infections from taking hold in these wounds. It would probably make more sense to cut the tree down completely and plant another in its place.
     
  3. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Thank you very much for helping me out with this problem. I will proceed to remove all areas that show any signs of the fungus - back to the main trunk. This is the only Cherry tree we have - but we do have a number of apple and pear trees in our yard as well. Is there any danger in this fungus spreading to these or other trees (Maples, Ash or others)? Is there a process I should follow to clean or disinfect pruning tools, chain saws or bow saws used to cut the infected Cherry tree?

    Thank you.
     
  4. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member

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    Crustose fungi generally inhabit wood that is already dead; so it is not likely to spread to other healthy trees. If spores land on untreated pruning cuts during warm, wet weather, there is a chance that they will infect the tree; but I think that it is unlikely.

    All of the books and on-line literature recommend disinfecting pruning tools when diseased material is being cut. I think that dipping the tools in a 20% chlorine bleach solution will be adequate, and other disinfectants can be found on-line.
     
  5. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Thank you again for your assistance - I will use the bleach solution - disinfect the tools before and after use. In addition to pruning any areas back to the main trunk - is there anything that can help save the tree - an anti fungal solution / spray that can be used on the remaining branches or trunk of the tree?
     
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Before and after each cut.
     
  7. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Hi Wendy - thank you - good to know.
     
  8. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member

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    Mitch, regarding anti-fungal sprays, lime-sulfur applied during the dormant season is recommended as a general cleanup spray. Various copper sprays are also effective against some types of fungi.
     
  9. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Thank you again for your help - I am going to cut back the tree - and will spray and see if I can save it -
     
  10. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Thank you very much - I will cut the tree back - treat it and spray - see if I can save part of it.
     
  11. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Another thing to consider - if the tree has been grafted above the trunk, there is no point going to all that trouble if you are losing all of the cultivar and will just have the rootstock left, which will not really be the same tree. If the cherries were tasty eating cherries, it was very likely grafted.
     
  12. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Hello Wendy --- I am really green (not as in - green thumb) at this and would not know how to determine if it was grafted - It is a cherry tree that my mom had back in the early 90's -- I believe she got it from a nursery - but not sure --- it was definitely a little bit of a tree - maybe 1 in diameter at the trunk --- She did not want it anymore - so we dug it up (by hand) - it was likely 4 inch diameter at the trunk at that time --- moved it and planted it in our yard - that was likely around 1996 --- I am guessing - but would estimate the diameter of the trunk at 16 to 18 inches and we have had the tree about 20 years now.

    The tree has produced bucket loads of good eating red cherries for years --- even this year - on the branches that did have foliage and blossoms --- We generally do not harvest the fruit - the birds and squirrels and racoons are well fed.

    So - really not sure if any of the above history helps --- perhaps the tree is just reached full maturity ?? and the best thing is to cut it down - We will miss it - it has been a great tree - lots of shade and provides privacy from our neighbours --- great seeing Cedar Wax Wings, Cardinals, Orioles and all the other birds -- the tree is located so that it is just 8 feet away from our second floor bedroom window - with the morning sun reflecting off the window - the birds don't see us but we get a close up of them.
     
  13. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    As an update - I have cut out all of the branches and limbs that showed any fungus on them - about 1/3 rd of the tree --- also noticed two open "wounds" on the main trunk. I cut out all of the bark that was not secured to the heartwood of the tree - evident by it easily falling or peeling off and NO white sapwood was present - one wound ended up running from near the very base of the trunk - right up to the area where the trunk divided into 3 main large branches --- about 4 feet long and had branched out onto areas of all three remaining large limbs. I disinfected the now cleaned up wounds with a water / bleach solution and then covered all areas with tree wound / cut dressing.

    Result - likely a little early to tell - but the rate of leaves turning yellow and falling off the tree has slowed - measurably. I am sure this exercise of cutting back and wound cleaning has been very traumatic on the tree. It may or may not survive and come back next spring - but the alternative was to cut down the tree. I have attached a few pictures - one major branch removed was 12 inches - you can also see about 1/3 of tree removed throughout the centre - one small wound cleaned out 9 inches and the large wound being 48 inches.

    Is there any thing else you can think of that I can do to help this tree?
     

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  14. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member

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    All of that dead wood near the bottom of the trunk probably indicates that the fungus has spread through the main trunk. The tree will probably die, but it may take a few years for all of it to succumb; and you may still get some more cherry crops. It might be a good idea to plant a replacement as soon as you can.
     
  15. MITCH

    MITCH New Member

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    Thank you - While I remain hopeful - I am not really optimistic about the future of survival ---- Replacement is in the works.
     

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