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Are all of our trees sick?

 
Posts: 87
Location: Zone 7a, Paulden, AZ
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We bought this property 3 years ago.  2.5 acres included a small orchard and a blackberry patch.  The trees seemed to be in various stages of growth and health.  Some may have been pruned early on, but others not in the past 5 years the previous owners were here.  The present irrigation system has lots of issues and we are in the process of overhauling it.  End of summer we will be mulching the entire area heavily - BTE style.  At this point, here are the tree issues:

  • Plum, and peach trees are oozing resin.  Most of this has a reddish color.
  • Many of these trees have split areas of bark, the inside of the split often looks dry/dead.
  • This is the first year our peaches have set fruit.  Fruit seems OK, but trees are oozing.  Everyone in this area says you only get stone fruit from trees here once every 7-8 years due to late frost.
  • Apple trees have set fruit every year, but it's been full of bug/worms.  I believe I finally identified the culprit as coddling moths.  I plan to spray BT as soon as we have a less windy day.
  • We have lots of high winds here.  You can see in the photos that some of the trees have grown to one side due to winds.


  • I was planning to make the biological tree paste and apply it to the trees, maybe adding a little neem oil to the mix.  Before I do that, I'd appreciate other opinions on whether that might be helpful, is the oozing resin a problem? is the split bark from disease?  Would the tree paste help?

    After reading much about pruning and 'training' I was also planning to try tying weights to some of the limbs to correct some of the growth.   At what age/size are the trees too old to retrain their growth?  Some are much taller than I'd like, is it too late to prune for height?  

    Bonnie

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    pollinator
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    At what age/size are the trees too old to retrain their growth?  Some are much taller than I'd like, is it too late to prune for height?  



    Pruning will usually invigorate an old tree.  Most suggest of not cutting more than 30% of the tree in a given year.  I likely would go less.

    If one is unsure how much to cut, they can cut the tree back some and then the following year cut more as they will have a year to observe their work.  It could be a 3 year plan to get the tree the size & shape you wish.

    Cutting dead/sick branches or branches that are crossing other branches, growing inward or shooting straight up should be a priority.
     
    pollinator
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    I wouldn’t prune much live wood until the trees are dormant.

    I don’t think you can do much about the sap/ooze on the main trunks. You might be able to prune some of the worst branches. Is it on the apples or just peaches and plums?

    I don’t think it will help to spray the trees this late in the year. I think it’s too late to help the fruit and might hurt the beneficial insects. Hopefully, a more successful apple grower than me will give some advice.  I’m not having much luck with organic apples, but this year looks better so far. I’m hoping the beneficial insect population will build up and help me out eventually.

    I think the growth on the Apple could be a disease called Cedar Apple Rust. Not sure though, I have not actually seen it on fruit. It’s all over my Apple leaves this year. Guess I will go check.

    If you have room, I’d plant more fruit trees this fall. I think you can get some of these producing, but they might not be very long-lived. I would try everything to save the old ones though.

    I’m going toward lower care trees like figs, mulberries, persimmons, and serviceberries. Also more cane fuit and smaller bushes like gooseberries, blackberries, and raspberries. You can plant these in between your fruit trees.

     
    pollinator
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    Since BT has to be eaten by the bug and your bugs are inside the apples I don't think that will work.
     
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    Hi Bonnie,

    Despite what many people say, the standard in Arboriculture is never prune more then 25%. Many orchardists were taught different, but as imperical testing proves otherwise, many orchardists are slowly adapting. Those experienced Arborist quickly learn less is better in prunings, as it doesn't shock the trees chemistry. Shocking the trees chemistry can increase water sprouts, and the need for corrective maintenance in structure many years down the road. If you can get by with 10% prunnings, until you restore your trees, maybe over a 3 year period. I would recomend that, to decrease the need for maintenance after restoration. The less you need to prune after restoration in maintenence, the healthier and more productive the tree will be in bearing fruit. Every family and species of tree is different, and can respond very different to prunings: some better then others.

    It looks like you have sun scald on some of your truncks or scaffolding branches, though its hard to see in the pictures the extent of this, or see if its related to what may be a bacterial infection causing the ooze. You will need to properly edge those open wounds on the trunks and scaffolding, if they are not actively showing any growth to compartmentalize. The ooze may be a bacterial canker that's common in many stone fruits. Boosting the health of the tree, and it's immunity will help drastically. Get your soil healthy, proper water, and the trees will suprise you. I would recomend a well balenced properly made, multi imput aerated compost tea, foiler feed and root drenched, to give immediate help, while you establish that BTE mulching system. If you want I'll share my compost tea recipe, which in unhealthy plants can do amazing things to help restore health.

    For the coddling moth, the larve I suspect is whats leaving its frass on your apples, or those orangish blobs. I'm not sure if BT has an effect on coddling moth larve, but if it does, treating now will be fine to break the reproduction cycle, which those larve from now, will likely be attacking your trees next year. The BT bacteria will persist like a contaminated bio hazard zone for a given length of time, to those pest which are susceptible to it. There are other strains of paracitizing bacteria used in agriculture that may work, if BT doesn't host on coddling moth larve.  The treatments won't save this years fruit, but will infect the larve from this year while they try to reach pupation. Eliminating them will drastically help reduce next years moth population, as sometimes many reproductive cycles of pests happen in a given season. If bacteria doesn't work on them, there are things that will. Though the coddling moth most likely pupates like other moths, maybe rolled up in a leaf, in dense foliage. When you get your soil and irrigation fugured out, it will be worth the effort to introduce a variety of paracitizing nematodes to your soil. They will stop the pupation of larve, that after exiting the fruit, pupate in the ground, like the apple magot, which in most areas is a problem too. The paracitizing nematodes are specifically selected, and harmless to anything but their spacific host range.  So they only host most ground pests, including destructive root nematodes. You may also look into hormone traps for the mature coddling moths, and a bug zapper on at night, during the beginning of the adult coddling moth season, where the first moths of the season are flying about. If it gets to the worst case scenario, you can see if suround clay is an option you want to consider, especially if you run into other problems, like with cuculio weaves on your stone fruits; however, that weavel is a whole other subject....lol.

    I hope that helps!

     
    Bonnie Kuhlman
    Posts: 87
    Location: Zone 7a, Paulden, AZ
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    R. Steele wrote:Hi Bonnie,

    Despite what many people say, the standard in Arboriculture is never prune more then 25%. Many orchardists were taught different, but as imperical testing proves otherwise, many orchardists are slowly adapting. Those experienced Arborist quickly learn less is better in prunings, as it doesn't shock the trees chemistry. Shocking the trees chemistry can increase water sprouts, and the need for corrective maintenance in structure many years down the road. If you can get by with 10% prunnings, until you restore your trees, maybe over a 3 year period. I would recomend that, to decrease the need for maintenance after restoration. The less you need to prune after restoration in maintenence, the healthier and more productive the tree will be in bearing fruit. Every family and species of tree is different, and can respond very different to prunings: some better then others.

    It looks like you have sun scald on some of your truncks or scaffolding branches, though its hard to see in the pictures the extent of this, or see if its related to what may be a bacterial infection causing the ooze. You will need to properly edge those open wounds on the trunks and scaffolding, if they are not actively showing any growth to compartmentalize. The ooze may be a bacterial canker that's common in many stone fruits. Boosting the health of the tree, and it's immunity will help drastically. Get your soil healthy, proper water, and the trees will suprise you. I would recomend a well balenced properly made, multi imput aerated compost tea, foiler feed and root drenched, to give immediate help, while you establish that BTE mulching system. If you want I'll share my compost tea recipe, which in unhealthy plants can do amazing things to help restore health.

    For the coddling moth, the larve I suspect is whats leaving its frass on your apples, or those orangish blobs. I'm not sure if BT has an effect on coddling moth larve, but if it does, treating now will be fine to break the reproduction cycle, which those larve from now, will likely be attacking your trees next year. The BT bacteria will persist like a contaminated bio hazard zone for a given length of time, to those pest which are susceptible to it. There are other strains of paracitizing bacteria used in agriculture that may work, if BT doesn't host on coddling moth larve.  The treatments won't save this years fruit, but will infect the larve from this year while they try to reach pupation. Eliminating them will drastically help reduce next years moth population, as sometimes many reproductive cycles of pests happen in a given season. If bacteria doesn't work on them, there are things that will. Though the coddling moth most likely pupates like other moths, maybe rolled up in a leaf, in dense foliage. When you get your soil and irrigation fugured out, it will be worth the effort to introduce a variety of paracitizing nematodes to your soil. They will stop the pupation of larve, that after exiting the fruit, pupate in the ground, like the apple magot, which in most areas is a problem too. The paracitizing nematodes are specifically selected, and harmless to anything but their spacific host range.  So they only host most ground pests, including destructive root nematodes. You may also look into hormone traps for the mature coddling moths, and a bug zapper on at night, during the beginning of the adult coddling moth season, where the first moths of the season are flying about. If it gets to the worst case scenario, you can see if suround clay is an option you want to consider, especially if you run into other problems, like with cuculio weaves on your stone fruits; however, that weavel is a whole other subject....lol.

    I hope that helps!



    I will try to keep the 10-25% in mind for pruning.  Some of the trees have a lot of water sprouts.  I did prune fairly heavily a couple winters ago on the trees that were being 'pushed over' by wind.  Do you have a preference for pruning end of summer or winter?  There seems to be different views on this.

    I think you're right about the sun scald.  Can you explain "edge open wounds?"  The soil here seems to be fairly healthy.  Previous owners grew organically, but with conventional means - i.e. plowed rows.  In the current garden area where we have about 6 inches of mulch, we are seeing lots of mushrooms, earthworms, and lately, lots of the 'dog vomit' fungi.  I believe the soil in the orchard area is just good also and hoping we will see the same 'life' when we get it mulched.  

    Yes, I would love to have your compost tea recipe.

    Yes, it's the larvae that's eating the apples - cut open a couple and found them inside.  The native plant/organic nursery claimed the BT would effectively break the cycle of the coddling moth (it also claims the same on the bottle), and that is what I'm hoping to accomplish.  It is also rated for organic use and said not to harm bees, beneficial insects, pets, or livestock.  Can you elaborate on introducing parasitizing nematodes to the soil?  I'm trying to read some of Bryant Redhawks work on soil, but it's looonggg and a bit technical.  I did see the hormone traps for the coddling moths, but thought I'd start with the BT.  

    So, would you still use the biodynamic tree paste?  or would you paint the trunks?

    Thanks for all your input.  Much appreciated.

    Bonnie
     
    gardener
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    I wouldn't automatically assume that something is wrong when your tree is oozing sap.  In fact, just the opposite.  When trees are producing excess sugar and there is just too much sap for the tree to effectively use, it's got to go somewhere.  A split happens in the cambium and excess sap pushes out to the surface of the bark.

    OR . . . it might be a problem  . . . trees will ooze to fight off boring insects (bugs that drill holes, not bugs that are uninteresting).  Looking at how healthy the foliage looks, I'd say that the former is more likely.
     
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    Those sappy holes are likely to be borers. These can be killed by various means – remove the sap by hand and poke a piece of wire in the hole to kill the grub (organic), and/or, using a systemic spray to kill them (not organic).

    The split bark could be caused by two main things – heat and irregular watering. The bark could be painted with a lime solution similar to Europeans painting fig and citrus trunks. The irregular watering issue is pretty straightforward – compost, mulch, keep them consistently moist.

    (Organic lime paint mix: 500ml water in a bucket, add 1 cup of hydrated (builders) lime, add 5ml of linseed oil. Mix and add more lime or water to make a slurry like house paint, use a sturdy paintbrush to apply. It will wear-off, but also feed the plant and keep many bugs away – when all the trees are painted that way, it looks rather neat and tidy too.)

    In regards to pruning, there are two basic shapes for pruned fruit trees (notwithstanding espalier):

    1. Stone fruits, or drupes, should be made into a vase shape – an inverted pyramid.
    2. Pome fruits, like apples and pears, should be trained  into a pyramid shape.

    Best to trim AFTER the last fruit are picked, when the leaves are still there – that way the trees will put on more buds and flowers next year. If you trim in winter,  when they’re dormant, the trees will put on more new growth and less fruit.

    Codling Moth isn’t an easy bugger to control – it’ll take several seasons. The following link is very helpful:


    CODLING MOTH TREATMENT


     
    Bonnie Kuhlman
    Posts: 87
    Location: Zone 7a, Paulden, AZ
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    F Agricola wrote:Those sappy holes are likely to be borers. These can be killed by various means – remove the sap by hand and poke a piece of wire in the hole to kill the grub (organic), and/or, using a systemic spray to kill them (not organic).

    The split bark could be caused by two main things – heat and irregular watering. The bark could be painted with a lime solution similar to Europeans painting fig and citrus trunks. The irregular watering issue is pretty straightforward – compost, mulch, keep them consistently moist.

    (Organic lime paint mix: 500ml water in a bucket, add 1 cup of hydrated (builders) lime, add 5ml of linseed oil. Mix and add more lime or water to make a slurry like house paint, use a sturdy paintbrush to apply. It will wear-off, but also feed the plant and keep many bugs away – when all the trees are painted that way, it looks rather neat and tidy too.)

    In regards to pruning, there are two basic shapes for pruned fruit trees (notwithstanding espalier):

    1. Stone fruits, or drupes, should be made into a vase shape – an inverted pyramid.
    2. Pome fruits, like apples and pears, should be trained  into a pyramid shape.

    Best to trim AFTER the last fruit are picked, when the leaves are still there – that way the trees will put on more buds and flowers next year. If you trim in winter,  when they’re dormant, the trees will put on more new growth and less fruit.

    Codling Moth isn’t an easy bugger to control – it’ll take several seasons. The following link is very helpful:


    CODLING MOTH TREATMENT




    Heat and irregular water are both factors that I'm working to address.  Thanks for the lime paint formula, I'll try that, and also for the pruning tips.  I'm going to try to pry off a glob of resin and see if there are any borers.  The video on codling moth looks helpful.  I'm going to try his recommendations.  I had heard of wrapping the tree, but seeing it was helpful.  

    Bonnie
     
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