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Wood rot?

 
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Hi everyone, I'm fairly new to fruit trees so I think I'm still making plenty of mistakes. The photos here are of an espaliered pear and double grafted plum and the dead branches I dissected. Recently I cut back some dead wood from these trees. Unfortunately it appears as though the brown stuff has invaded living tissue which I don't want to chop off if I can help it. What is wrong with these trees?  Is it contagious? Do I need to chop down further to get rid of the brown stuff and if so how much further down?
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Welcome Craig, hopefully some of the real experts here can comment on that type if rot.

It looks like those are really young trees, how long have they been in the ground?

And do you have a particular goal or philosophy you are seeking with fruit trees?

 
steward
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Hi Craig, welcome to Permies!

I think the pictures look normal. The first two photos for example, show three kinds of wood growing. The darker colored in the center is heartwood, the tan color around it is sapwood, and the green tissue just under the bark is the cambium layer. Pictures 6 & 7 from the top are dead wood. The green cambium layer is brown. One way to determine if a tree or a branch is alive is to simply scratch a very small section of bark off with a fingernail, and if what is underneath is green, it’s alive, if it’s brown, it’s dead. The green healthy wood will bend and flex, dead brown branches snap and break, like the two segments in the last picture. I believe your trees appear healthy.
 
Craig Black
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Hi Grady and James. Thanks for your replies and your interest in my post. Grady I live in Hobart in Australia on a relatively large urban block of 940 sq m. My goal is to grow as much food for my family as possible with the small area that I have available.

James thank you for your information! I still consider my trees to be quite young. They are most likely 3-4 years old. I guess it is possible for heartwood to develop at that age. I hadn't considered that possibility. Now I won't butcher them in an attempt to save them😌
 
pollinator
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Craig Black wrote:Now I won't butcher them in an attempt to save them😌



I have a philosophy with regards to my trees now:  When in doubt, wait it out  
 
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