Bing Cherry Dropping Dead?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by Bobgerard, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. Bobgerard

    Bobgerard New Member

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    Hello UBC Forum friends!
    I have gotten excellent assistance previously regarding a Maple, and now would like some advice or opinion as to our new Bing Cherry tree. It was planted by the staff from the nursery in our yard in May 2013. It never seemed to do very well since then. One branch has died and another has lost all it's leaves.
    I water it regularly (perhaps a gallon per week, sometimes more). But recently, many leaves have turned yellow and brown and began falling like it's Autumn. I didn't see any major insect damage on the leaves. I am attaching several photos I took this morning.
    By the way, yesterday we got a huge rain (over 4 inches) and the tree seemed to re-vitalize, making me suspect it is under-watered.
    By looking at the photos, can anyone suggest what is happening and if this is normal to be loosing leaves in mid-August?
     

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  2. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Could be under-watering.
    In the first season after planting you should water the tree well, about 3 cm of water, twice a week, preferably with a spot sprinkler. To measure the amount of water put a small container (tuna can for example) in the reach of your sprinkler.
    Once the tree is well established, in the second year and after, you can reduce the frequency of watering to once a week.
     
  3. Bobgerard

    Bobgerard New Member

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    Thank you Sundrop- It sure looks like you are correct about lack of water. I have watered it well every morning with the garden hose, using a slow, steady flow (perhaps about 2 gallons worth saturation at a time). After just three days, the leaves are much more robust and not drooping or hanging limp, nor are they turning yellow and falling off any more! I know not to over-water as well, so I think I will just maintain this amount of watering.
    I am fortunate to have found this UBC Forum and helpful folks like you!
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I was thinking over-watering from the kind of tree, its appearance and the appearance of the site, and then I read that you are watering daily which would tend to confirm that. Water just enough to keep the tree moist, poke around in the soil to check the situation as needed.
     
  5. Bobgerard

    Bobgerard New Member

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    I should have clarified- I only started watering the tree more aggressively three days ago, after after a week of watching the leaves turn yellow and fall off (see attached photo). I had only been watering it about a quart of water every 3 days or so, because of not knowing the proper amount it needs, and fearful of drowning the tree. Since I started watering it more, the leaves have stopped turning yellow and almost none have fallen. I will keep an eye on it, naturally, to look for any discoloration of the leaves and if they start to turn and fall, then I quit !
    Anyway, the soil is moist, not wet or soggy, so hopefully it is in a good place, getting full, direct sunlight all day long.
     
  6. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Glad your tree is doing better. You have quenched its thirst, now it is time to stop watering it every day. Twice a week will do the job during hot, dry weather.

    I mentioned using a spot sprinkler since it is important that the soil is moist a little farther from the tree, as well. This will encourage right roots development, as they spread in the soil in search of water. If you keep watering only close to the trunk the roots will be very reluctant to spread farther, into a dryer area.

    It is also important to water deep, so the roots will also grow deep, following the moisture. Extensive, deep roots is generally all what your tree needs to grow strong and healthy.

    You should also get to know your soil. Is it clay or sand, or something in between? Does it drain well? Do the drainage test. All this will help you to decide for yourself how much and how often to water in the future. Clayey soil - less often, sandy soil - more often.

    Remember that too little water is not good, but too much is not good, either.

    Get to know your plant, is it moisture loving, or may be it likes drier conditions more?

    "Poking around in the soil" will not do the job, it can only tell you if soil is moist close to the surface and can lead you towards developing very wrong watering habits, like frequent, shallow watering.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Most tree roots away from desert regions occur in the soil near the surface, because that is where it is the most aerated. Those that go deep are primarily anchor roots, on heavy soils such as are prevalent in my area even quite tall trees may lack even these, the root system being seen to be quite flat on the bottom when one of them topples. So flooding alternated with deep penetrating dryness will serve primarily to tax the specimen, rather than make it more independent. You instead want to water often enough to keep the entire soil profile moist, during the times when this is needed - and the tree is not a fully established example of a drought-adapted species.
     
  8. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Another reason for correct watering – trees that didn't develop strong, extensive root system (roots go where water and nutrients are) are easy to topple, as Ron B. has observed. Trees with strong, deep, extensive roots will not give up to strong winds.
     
  9. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    The toppling Ron refers to isn't necessarily due to a weak root system as a consequence of inadequate watering: there's plenty of water in the coastal forest, for instance, where this sort of toppling can be seen. It is, as Ron notes, due to heavy soils tree roots have difficulty penetrating, the tree developing an extensive and strong root system horizontally on account of the soil conditions. No amount of additional watering will overcome this, at least in the coastal conditions referred to. I've seen 100' Douglas Firs topple this way in a storm, like ships tipping over: a big wide shallow root system with a very tall 'mast', with few or no anchor roots visible. More watering wouldn't change this. So yes, incorrect watering (too much or too little) affects root development, but in some some cases (especially, it seems, here on the coast) very tall, established, well watered trees can still topple--particularly when high winds combine with saturated soil--even with optimal watering, soil conditions playing a much larger role.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2013
  10. Bobgerard

    Bobgerard New Member

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    Many thanks! I am really grateful to you forum members who have helped with this issue. My new immersion into back-yard horticulture and tree care is a fun hobby and nice get-away from some of the pressures of day-to-day stress. I appreciate all you folks are sharing with me and everyone.
    Now, I have a new question that will require a new thread-- look for it regarding "Pruning a new Japanese Maple" !
     

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