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Cedar apple rust conundrum???

 
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Hello and thanks in advance for any advice you can give.  I am just getting started on designing our maps and I am needing to figure out what I should do with my red cedar trees.  My property is 80 acres of rolling hills in Southern Iowa and I have hundreds of red cedar trees (juniper) taking over the pasture in areas.  
Our house, yard, and future food forest are located on the top of a hill with no trees or bushes.  The weather here can be incredibly windy so I figured I should create a windbreak on the north and west.  Since I have red cedar of all sizes I intended to just transplant a bunch to make the windbreak but now cedar apple rust has me not knowing where to go next.  There's one big old apple tree on the property that has c.a.r. but it must be tolerant bc the leaves showed some stress but it still produced a bunch of great apples although some were misshapened.  Theres a couple patches of wild plums that didn't produce a single good plum because of c.a.r.  Which of course means I have red cedars infected with c.a.r. everywhere.  The red cedars are incredibly important for wildlife here and theres no way I can remove them all from my property, but some definitely have to go.
So now all the questions...  Is treating hundreds of trees realistic and is it expensive?  How long will it take to remove the infection from my property?  Even once cured will the infection just return bc of trees not on my property?  Does this ruin my plan to use red cedar as a windbreak and anywhere near my food forest?   Or does it make more sense to just accept c.a.r. on my property and only purchase c.a.r. resistant varieties?  Is there a lot of c.a.r. resistant options or will this make it difficult for me to stock my food forest?  C.a.r. affects apples, plums, and cherries correct?  Is there others too?
 
pollinator
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Don’t panic. I love the eastern redcedar and actually plant more, all while enjoying the many members of the rose family, including apples, cherries, etc.

Cedar apple rust can be hosted by any juniper, not just our eastern red cedar. And it can affect members of the rose family,not just apples.

If a cedar is infected, there will be an orange ball on it. That should be pruned out and destroyed (burning is one way). Disinfect your pruning shears and use good garden hygiene- don’t work your cedars and then your apples. Good hygiene may be all you need to control the disease, but if not, you can make a garlic spray for your affected trees. You can make a spray by blending cloves with water, letting them soak for a day or so, straining and pouring into your sprayer. There are also organic sulphur sprays. BUT, if you resort to sprays, whether garlic or commercial sulphur (garlic contains sulphur), PLEASE be mindful of the pollinators and do not spray when they are actively working your orchard. Remember that just because something is “organic” does not mean it is safe for bees! No bees, no fruit.
 
pollinator
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While the juniper is slow-growing above ground, it is rapidly growing downward. A three-year-old plant (less than two-feet tall) can have a tap root 30 feet long. Mature plants range from 5 to 30 feet and can produce tap roots almost 200 feet long. . Transplanting is likely going to be less than satisfactory.
diversity is usually a good thing,  pines and bamboos can be fairly fast growing and offer similar wind breaking potential
you might be able to build an earthbank/tall hugel bed to help with the wind,

If you haven't already started the house and food forest, you may want to rethink the hilltop placement. Older houses inevitably looked for that long distance view, but the top of a hill may generate more problems than it solves.Mid slopes have better access to water and more opportunities for shelter
 
Myrth Gardener
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As to transplanting eastern redcedars, I typically don’t try on ones that have gotten very big. The largest I have transplanted was a youngster about 30 inches tall. It took it a year to get established and start growing again because one cannot get all the taproot. Typically what I do is to harvest seedlings from under the powerline in the early spring. The birds, who LOVE cedars, deposit nicely fertilized seed packets which sprout where I cannot let them grow - under the powerline. I pot them up for a year and grow them out, then transplant the following spring. Done this way, they grow reasonably fast. The native birds really love them - good predator resistant nesting sites that provide food. We didn’t used to see cedar waxwings very often when we moved here. We do now!



23E29C63-2B92-4672-A912-33508DB3D7D4.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 23E29C63-2B92-4672-A912-33508DB3D7D4.jpeg]
 
bob day
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getting them when they are real young  is a great idea, and it's good to hear your methods that you've had so much success with..  Also, all soils are not created equal, I have dug up taproots here that hit our rock clay mixture and went down 6 inches and sideways about 20 feet .
 
Myrth Gardener
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bob day wrote:getting them when they are real young  is a great idea, and it's good to hear your methods that you've had so much success with..  Also, all soils are not created equal, I have dug up taproots here that hit our rock clay mixture and went down 6 inches and sideways about 20 feet .



Thanks. We are blessed with good soil here. It is deep and rich with few rocks.

The potted seedling in the photo above was one year old and ready for transplant. Some years I pot up quite a few new ones, as I have time. I laughingly tell folks that I run a tree rescue here. I’m odd, I guess, but it hurts my little Druidic heart to mow down seedlings in the spring. 🧙‍♀️💚
 
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I'm replacing the crazy numbers of junipers, all but two (that I have examined, which is probably nearly all of them) of which have cedar apple and cedar hawthorn rusts. Even with "resistant" cultivars, it has a profound effect. The "resistant" ones seem to be able to tolerate a higher spore burden, but in bad years they get hit anyway. I wish it were as simple as hygiene, these trees would need to be pruned with a ladder. I tried some sulfur spray two years ago, it didn't seem to make a lot of difference. For spot treating I would try it. My soil was deficient, so I put some down to get it reasonable.

So I thought about the roles the junipers are playing in the ecosystem, and tried to find some plants that would fill the niches as best as possible.

First, why do they grow so well? At least on my place, the soil was compacted and depleted, and as many people have mentioned, they have incredible roots! They are able to root well in one year, and can penetrate serious hardpan. Once they have roots in that far, they can bring up minerals nothing else can get. The other pioneer tree here is sweetgum, and it has a complimentary strategy of creating shade in one area, and sending out suckers some distance away to create more shade. They "subsidize" the new parts of the clone for a few years until there is new shade, new leaf drop and better moisture retention. But they are superficial rooters only, so they don't really compete with the cedars (there is likely a similar-role plant in other ecosystems). The combination here will create decent forest soil in 5-10 years from cutover. So you have to have a plan for improving soil compaction or the soil actually would benefit from the junipers. For me that means a whole bunch of taproot plants, but literally nothing is as good around here as the cedars. I've got sweet clover, chicory, bluestem, daikon, you name it. The best infiltration is where the cedars were. It's crazy. Additionally there were a couple of major mineral deficiencies, and the cedars brought enough of it from deeper strata that those areas had, say, boron, while it wasn't detectable in other areas. So you have to have a plan to correct that. The line between "dynamic accumulators" and taproot plants is pretty blurry to me.

Then what function are they providing biologically? To my knowledge they are non-mycorrhyzal, so you don't lose any functionality there. They are great winter bird habitat and winter forage. So what could replace them? For me it's holly, magnolia, pine, and maybe bamboo (with the usual caveats about bamboo) for cover. I've got barberry, northern bayberry, hackberry, stuff like that for winter forage.  There will always be enough cedars around for any foragers looking for deworming. If the niches are well-filled, the cedars won't be as likely to fill back in. Maybe.

Then in order to reduce the spore count, I need windbreaks. The whole layout is important. I actually funnel the prevailing wind away from the areas planted with apples and pears. I know that sounds crazy, but the spores can go for miles.

Anyhow, thats my comprehensive CAR plan.
 
Adam Alexander
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I didn't realize they have such deep taproots.  I guess that's why they are pioneer trees.  I'm glad to know they are working so hard.  Also great to know how beneficial they will be even after they are gone.  I can certainly find plenty that are still small enough to transplant but still not sure if I should use them for our windbreak.  As far as pruning is concerned the biggest are 50 ft tall and I'm not a fan of heights so I won't be able to prune them enough I'm afraid.  The main reason I originally planned on using them for our windbreak is because they are free and money is always a deciding factor.  I also considered using willow and mulberry cuttings (also free) to make a living fence but I don't think it would work as good for windbreak and would be a more time consuming project.  Our land hasn't been farmed forever which means nature has already been working hard at repairing previous damage done and the overall health is great. Unfortunately it also means that I am nearly starting from scratch and always have more projects to do than time and money allow.  
 
Myrth Gardener
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Adam Alexander wrote:I didn't realize they have such deep taproots.  I guess that's why they are pioneer trees.  I'm glad to know they are working so hard.  Also great to know how beneficial they will be even after they are gone.  I can certainly find plenty that are still small enough to transplant but still not sure if I should use them for our windbreak.  As far as pruning is concerned the biggest are 50 ft tall and I'm not a fan of heights so I won't be able to prune them enough I'm afraid.  The main reason I originally planned on using them for our windbreak is because they are free and money is always a deciding factor.  I also considered using willow and mulberry cuttings (also free) to make a living fence but I don't think it would work as good for windbreak and would be a more time consuming project.  Our land hasn't been farmed forever which means nature has already been working hard at repairing previous damage done and the overall health is great. Unfortunately it also means that I am nearly starting from scratch and always have more projects to do than time and money allow.  



I wouldn’t try to prune CAR out of the top of a tall redcedar either. The choice becomes spraying the fruit trees with sulphur or taking down the big cedar. But if you can arrest the CAR in your fruits, it will remove the alternate host for your redcedars.

Deciduous trees and shrubs make decent windbreaks. Obviously they aren’t as dense in winter. But our lilac hedge is positioned at the front of our property along the north side, and the hedge does multiple duty. It is drop dead gorgeous, so it is decorative landscaping in part. It feeds bees. Birds nest in it. It provides a bit of food and herb for us. AND, it acts as a windbreak for our driveway. The snow blowing in from the north piles to the south of the hedge, helping to keep the driveway from drifting shut. Traditional windbreaks include both deciduous trees and shrubs and conifers.

Those redcedars can live on for decades in rot resistant fence posts, by the way. Or, use them to roughly frame raised beds.
 
bob day
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I thought it might be useful to put forward a bit of herbal knowledge that might be useful at some point, speaking of rust, which is a fungus.  Black walnut is a pretty good fungicide--(maybe that's why it prefers the company of grasses and keeps other trees away)

Anyway, I had some black knot which I started to treat a plum tree with, and while I should've been more regular /persistent with the treatments, the one time I did treat it seemed to have an effect

I have taken an attitude of finding the plants that don't need such an exotic treatment, unless they are zone 1, this one was zone 3 and I figured I would do nothing but spray if I allowed this sort of weakness in my food forest that far out.

Maybe for zone 1 or close in zone 2

Anyway, I use the hulls, I extract into isopropyl alcohol for two or three weeks, ethanol is better if you are treating your body--athlete's foot etc.   I've been told the active ingredient is iodine which BW is supposed to concentrate-

-dilute with water, filter and spray - sorry I don't have more precise instructions, this is  make it up as you go along

My herb teacher used to say he would rather have too much herb in the extraction than not enough if that helps at all
 
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I've also got a lot of cedars, and they have rust galls on them. Looks like someone 20 years or so ago planted a windbreak all along the property line out of them. They DO block the wind nicely, nothing else around here is as effective. This areas is THICK with cedar trees anywhere they aren't beaten back, there is no way I can eradicate the gall. I'm going for resistant varieties, and changing my opinions about what i NEED to be able to grow. If my apples wont' make it, I'll not do apples. Apples aren't required in the universe :)

Lots of cool things to grow that are not affected. More things are not affected than are. Crab apples are resistant, and some of them are very tasty.

I'm working around it rather than fighting it. I believe there are battles worth fighting, and battles to not fight, and the rust has won this battle, I didn't even bother to suit up for it :)
 
Myrth Gardener
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That’s interesting! I’ve read about the use of black walnut for athlete’s foot, but not for use as an anti-fungal orchard spray. I will tuck that one away for future reference! Black walnut makes a really nice dye, too.

Another herb to try would be chamomile. I make a chamomile decoction to spray on seedlings I raise indoors to prevent losses from damping off. It works beautifully. Chamomile is an old remedy for fungal issues. Lovely herb, and so useful. I highly recommend growing it.
 
Tj Jefferson
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But if you can arrest the CAR in your fruits, it will remove the alternate host for your redcedars.



The "red cedars" are unfortunately extremely susceptible. I am working on breeding some that are resistant, check back in five years. Additionally, unlike the apple/rose family which are generally a transient host, the junipers remain infected once infected. It is there for the life of the tree unless you can remove the infected parts. And there are enough feral Bradford Pear mutants in most of the country to keep the party going, or native serviceberry, etc.

Additional strategy is to plant new cedars and make them grow slowly. It is rare to see any rust on trees growing in the understory. Slow growing might make a difference. I am leaving a few while clearing to see if the leggy shaded ones that had no signs will develop visible rust when they have less competition. I suspect they will. All I know is that the exposed cedars get hammered around here. I am also keeping a few with light infestation and really making sure they have optimal minerals available. I can do that at some scale, while I can't possible use foliar feeding on big trees.

I am trying two sources for apples and pears. One is Hidden Springs Nursey. They have a whole bunch of more resistant (to fireblight and other pathogens too) varieties that I haven't seen elsewhere. Great stock! I get nothing to shill for them. The other is to find apples/pears in your area that are unaffected and graft. I have found a few, and there are lots of old trees if you look in much of the country. Plus asking people for scions is great, then I can blab about what I'm up to.

Apples aren't required in the universe :)

WE can still be friends, but I'm not sure we can still hang out much :)
 
Myrth Gardener
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Tj Jefferson wrote: I am working on breeding some that are resistant, check back in five years.



Oh how cool! I look forward to hearing about this project, going forward! Please also keep us posted on how your resistant fruits do.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Tj Jefferson wrote:

Apples aren't required in the universe :)

WE can still be friends, but I'm not sure we can still hang out much :)


Sure we can hang out, you bring the apples, I'll bring the ground cherries, we can bake a lovely pie!

Seriously, there are few crops worth fighting super hard for, if there are others that will grow esaily for you. People get stuck on an idea, like the guy I talked to who is a "normal" farmer, corn and soy, who was praying for rain during the drought last year. I asked if he was going to put in different crops this year that wouldn't depend on the rain so much, he replied "But I'm a corn and soy farmer!" He's so entrenched there's no other way he can see. I'm a fan of growing what grows well for you, and trading for things you can't grow easily, and let go of preconceived notions about what you MUST grow. I can grow butternut squash easily here, I'll trade you a squash pie for an apple pie :D

Besides, the cedars have fangs, and snarled at me when I asked them quit being rusty.  Grrrr....   :D
 
Tj Jefferson
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Will do! I can collect seeds from the best producer, I've been using them for seasoning venison but I'd be happy to mail them if it's progeny show positive traits. I never thought people might like them to plant. In retrospect I should have made the offer. Oops basic plant breeding. This is a 20' tree with no rust at all. All around are slimy messes. Unfortunately I don't know who the father is... That's my work, I'm eliminating diseased trees and will try to pollinate some branches by hand this spring.

I'm growing pineapple ground cherry from SESE. They are so much better than the feral ones. Great cultivar. Most delicious thing out there!
 
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