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Sour Cherry Tree dieing?

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From: Pamela DiValerio
Algonquin, IL
My well established sour cherry tree seems to have given up, it looks to me that it may be dieing. It has given plenty of fruit in past years, and this year not even a cereal bowl full. In the spring the tree had plenty of flowers so I anticipated fruit, but noooo. I have battled with the infestation of japanese beetles, they seem to love this tree and leave it's uppermost leafy areas looking skeletal...recently all the leaves turned yellow,brown and patchy then the base of the trunk, there is a lesion type wound in the fork of the bottom branches...what is causing this tree to look like it is on it's last breath? Thank you for your response....Pam

Extension Message
From: James Schuster
Horticulturist and Plant Pathologist (Retired)
There are three major problems on prunus plants. The first is black knot - it looks like swellings that have ruptured black on the branches. It eventually kills. The two that cause bleeding are cankers and peach tree borer. These two problems attack stressed trees. The borer attacks near the soil line. Sap oozes out of the EXIT holes. The cankers occur anywhere on the tree. (this is what your tree probably has.) At first, sap starts oozing out of the bark and there is no visual reason why (hole or cracked bark). With time the dead bark spits and the bleeding increases. Eventually both the borers and cankers will kill the tree. There is no recommended borer control for trees that bear an edible crop. There are no effective canker fungicides. Try and keep the plants growing vigourously. Many plnts in the prunus genus have a short life expectancy in Northern Illinois because of the freezing and thawing in the spring is a major stress factor.

From: Barbara Webb
Chicago, IL
I have a different problem with my sour cherries I thought I would post here. I have two sour cherries (Montmorency and Morello) on dwarfing Giessen rootstocks in containers on my roofdeck (8th floor) in Chicago. Last year, they both got horrible powdery mildew followed by mite infestation (I understand one can follow the other). I tried a milk spray I read about, soap spray, and finally a neem spray. Nothing seemed to provide complete relief. Unfortunately, the mildew and mites started to infect my apple trees, which proved more resistant, but still suffered. Now, it is important to add that these poor trees started off the growing season on a covered balcony until we moved to our roofdeck, so I am wondering whether the lack of direct sun caused the problem in the first place (everything stayed wetter longer, etc.). Is there anything I can do to prevent th return of mildew/mites this Spring? Or should I toss the cherry trees in the interest of healthier apples? Thanks for any advice.

Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Extension Web Development

Mildew is a fungus disease that is caused by and greatly aggrevated by the fact that plant foliage is allowed to remain wet for long periods of time. In your case if the plants are in an area that tends to be shaded and where there is poor air circulation then mildew is likely to occur more frequently and be more severe. The solutions you used would have no affect on the problem. There are fungicides that can be used on fruit trees to help prevent mildew but the best way to prevent it is through proper cultural conditions. I might suggest that yo move the plants to a full sun location that has good air circulation. this should cut down if not elimnate the problem. I would not necessarily get rid of the plants just put them in better locations. Also try and keep the foliage dry by not overhead watering.

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