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What is going on with my cherry??

 
pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Hi everyone,

I haven’t been posting much of late as we’ve been very busy with the build of our house and I haven’t had much time to dedicate to our garden.
One thing I couldn’t ignore though is our Lapins cherry that we planted last spring looking increasingly unhappy.
We bought the tree as a bare-rooted plant and made a nice hole for it near a pretty looking vine overgrown boulder. We cut back the vine significantly and discovered there had used to be a tree in that spot, but the stump that had been there was nearly rotted away and you could almost pulverise the wood that was left with your bare hands. We dug out the remaining stump, and used a part of it to scatter it at the bottom of the hole as a tiny hugelmound idea to retain some water in our very rocky ground and to give some nutrients over time. We planted the cherrie, and added some nice compost to it.
This was back in February. Then came COVID-19 and we weren’t allowed to visit the garden for almost three months. Once we came back, we were pleased to see that all the trees we planted in February had survived, had even bloomed and formed fruits. Except for our lap is cherry, that had, while still looking healthy, hadn’t even leafed out yet.

We thought that perhaps all that wood in the ground was pulling too much nitrogen from the ground, stunting the growth of our cherry. So over the next couple of weeks we added some diluted urine to the soil around the tree. And after a few weeks the tree finally started to leaf out and perk up. The tree continued to look great for the next month and we thought all was well.

Untill we started noticing last week the tree started showing brown leafs all over. It had rained a lot over the last few weeks (although be it in short heavy bursts), so it seemed unlikely to me that the tree didn’t have enough water. The tree is situated in a spot that doesn’t take sun all day (I think from 10 to 5), and the creek does cool the air noticeably close to it.
I’ve been brewing some compost tea made out of stinging nettles and have been giving this solution to the tree twice in the last week now, but I don’t know if it does much good.
At this point I’m unsure what to do. Did I give it too little nitrogen, did I give it too much? Is something else going on? Is the spot where I planted the tree too humid? Are the vines robbing the tree of too many nutrients?
I did notice that where the cherry was grafted on its rootstock, the bark looks like it has blackened. Could it be some sort of fungal infection?

I would appreciate any insight! Can this cherry still be saved or is it a lost cause?

Thanks!
7D1652CD-2BB0-4387-B5B3-ADCD730B2F3D.jpeg
Not looking too happy
Not looking too happy
6F8F586D-1804-4F06-91E2-E565D91BF3A2.jpeg
Brown leaves
Brown leaves
3FF03F86-3DE3-497A-B45D-20146E1CA164.jpeg
Blackish graft area
Blackish graft area
87497FEA-FAEC-4364-AB52-E72B28139818.jpeg
Position near boulder
Position near boulder
5FC617DA-0AAF-465A-A4D3-F7CB892BE48F.jpeg
Close to the creek bed
Close to the creek bed
 
Posts: 85
Location: Rocky Ripple, IN
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I'm no expert, but I wonder if the issue here is too much water making the tree susceptible to fungal issues? You mentioned a lot of rain, less than full sun and cooler temps. Those are the conditions under which I have most often encountered fungal problems on plants.
I had great results treating fungus on my baby pawpaws with a strong horsetail (equisetum) tea I saw Redhawk recommend in a thread somewhere. Here's roughly the recipe, obviously can be scaled down.

1 kg equisetum leaves
10 L spring or rainwater

Fill tea bag with equisetum, add water and bring to a boil. Boil at least 10 minutes before turning off and let cool to room temp. Remove tea bag and squeeze out excess liquid. Dilute liquid 10:1 (water to tea) and spray on soil, leaves and tree trunks.

The problems we were seeing pretty much disappeared after doing this. But we did catch it early. Figure it couldn't hurt to try this and it's fairly easy. I hope you find out what's ailing your tree and can save it!

For what it's worth, we also planted many of our trees near old trees that had passed on and were far less decayed than what you describe. We didn't remove the stumps, just put the new trees next to them. But they're all very happy, so I doubt that's your issue.

 
S. Bard
pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Heather Olivia wrote:I'm no expert, but I wonder if the issue here is too much water making the tree susceptible to fungal issues? You mentioned a lot of rain, less than full sun and cooler temps



Hi Heather,

Thanks for your reply. Your idea about it being too wet causing fungal issues might be spot on. I searched google for cherry fungal diseases and came across this:

‘Phytophthora root rot is a fungal infection that attacks the roots of cherry trees resulting in damage to the trunk and foliage. The early symptoms of Phytophthora are discolored and wilting leaves on one or more branches of the tree. The early symptoms of cherry trees infected with phytophthora often resemble drought stress. More advanced cases show darkened areas on the bark near the crown and trunk where it meets the ground.’

This sounds exactly like my cherry. Do you think the equisetum tea could still work at this stage?

A quick edit: I’ve checked pictures of equisetum, and have to say I haven’t spotted any growing close by yet. I might not be able to find enough of it in time before my cherry is lost (if it isn’t already). Are there any alternative remedies I could try?

 
S. Bard
pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Another quick thought:Could this fungal infection be passed on to nearby cherries? I have another cherry closeby that is in a more sunny spot, and seems perfectly happy there. I wouldn’t want the fungus to spread. Should I take measures to protect my other cherry?
 
pollinator
Posts: 732
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
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If you can't find equisetum (horsetail) in your vicinity, you might want to try a highly aerobic compost or manure tea. The populations of healthy bacteria in this will be antagonistic to the fungal pathogens and might tilt things back in favour of your cherry tree. Just hang a cloth bag filled with good compost or aged manure in a barrel of water and agitate it several times a day to keep it aerated, then spray the tree with it.
 
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did you cut those 4 top branches back? when? why? looks like maybe a 4 year old tree or so. it does not look too happy. get a couple more this winter, plant bare root trees in middle of winter or at least in dormant season, keep weeds and vines from around it, let it grow , just let it grow till you get a couple seasons of fruiting, first year of fruiting pick all the fruits off so energy will go towards tree growth, third fruiting year at spring flowering this is when you prune it. cut entire branches off at trees trunk rather than clipping branches like an ornamental shrub. this is only just my opinion which is by no means expert just the way I have had success with fruit trees ive grown
 
S. Bard
pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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bruce Fine wrote:did you cut those 4 top branches back? when? why? looks like maybe a 4 year old tree or so. it does not look too happy. get a couple more this winter, plant bare root trees in middle of winter or at least in dormant season, keep weeds and vines from around it, let it grow , just let it grow till you get a couple seasons of fruiting, first year of fruiting pick all the fruits off so energy will go towards tree growth, third fruiting year at spring flowering this is when you prune it. cut entire branches off at trees trunk rather than clipping branches like an ornamental shrub. this is only just my opinion which is by no means expert just the way I have had success with fruit trees ive grown



Hi Bruce,

I did not cut those branches. I got the bare rooted tree together with a bunch of others in February and immediately planted it. I did not cut back anything, so I'm assuming this was how the tree was when I bought it from the nursery. I did find it a bit of a strange shape, but I'm no tree expert so I didn't think too much on it.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Phil Stevens wrote:If you can't find equisetum (horsetail) in your vicinity, you might want to try a highly aerobic compost or manure tea. The populations of healthy bacteria in this will be antagonistic to the fungal pathogens and might tilt things back in favour of your cherry tree. Just hang a cloth bag filled with good compost or aged manure in a barrel of water and agitate it several times a day to keep it aerated, then spray the tree with it.



Could this also be compost bought from a nursery? I've only started my garden this year and do not have finished compost yet.
How long should you let the compost sit in the barrel before applying it to the tree?

 
Phil Stevens
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Any decent quality compost will do. Homemade or nursery bought is fine. Worm castings are great, too. What you're making is simply a tea, and if you stir it several times a day it should only take a few days.
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I would aerate the compost for 24-36hours in a barrel and use it immediately. You can leave some aerating in the barrel until 48hrs. but you have to use it up all of it. Throw away the rest that didn't get used after the 48hours.

For your aerated compost tea, add some:
pond/aquarium water (purple non-Sulphur bacteria)
chitin,insect frass/shell, shellfish egg/shell (insect repelling microbes)
milk kefir (LAB microbes)
soil from under a healthy-thriving cherry/prunus/apple family tree (local microbes)
compost/worm casting
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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I thought I'd give a quick update on the state of my cherry tree as I've noticed some changes.

When I last posted virtually all of the leaves of the tree had browned and were falling off. I treated the tree a few times with some fermented compost tea made from stinging nettles but didn't see much effect. I tried finding equisetum but it just wasn't growing around here at this time. I figured as a last ditch effort I'd try to move the tree to another spot using Sepp Holzer's Shock method. So when I went back out to the property, ready to transplant the tree, I noticed it new had new shoots all over. Perhaps the Stinging nettles compost tea had effect after all, it just took a while for the effect to show? I've continued monitoring the tree, and it is starting to look better each week. Yay!

However, I am now noticing similar symptoms to another cherry tree nearby, that previously looked like it was doing marvelously. Lots of new growth, budded out properly in spring. Now the leaves are curling and turning yellow/ brown, just like they did on the other cherry. I'm noticing the same black spots near the graft as I spotted on my other tree that is now doing better.
Both trees have received compost tea of nettles and a chop and drop of black locust branches and leaves in a circle on the ground around the trunk. It was after the application of the black locust that I started seeing the yellowing of the leaves. Did I give too much nitrogen? Or has the fungal infection spread from one tree (which is new recouping) to the other?
IMG_1381.jpg
New leaf growth on my damaged cherry
New leaf growth on my damaged cherry
IMG_1382.jpg
Healthy looking leaves on every branch
Healthy looking leaves on every branch
IMG_1415.jpg
My previously wonderfully looking cherry not looking so wonderful anymore
My previously wonderfully looking cherry not looking so wonderful anymore
IMG_1417.jpg
The older leaves seem more damaged than the leaves on the new growth
The older leaves seem more damaged than the leaves on the new growth
 
Phil Stevens
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It appears the "patient" may be making a recovery. I wouldn't be too worried about the other one. That looks more like late-season wear and tear on the older leaves, including some insect munching on one of them (the area that only has ribs remaining - probably a caterpillar). The newer leaves near the tip of the branch look great and you're headed into autumn now, so just keep up the therapy on the first tree if you like.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Thanks for the reassurance, Phil!

How often do I apply the Nettles compost tea? This is the first year I'm using anything of the sort and I have no idea how much is too much / too little.
Do I just give a few doses over the course of two months until the tree looks happy again, or do I continue to give the tea to my trees (even the healthy looking ones) every now and then as an extra boost? I have an abundance of nettles in my garden so I generally always have some tea fermenting away in the garden. But i have no idea how to dose them.
 
Phil Stevens
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I'm no expert, as I have only begun the journey of making and using these teas myself. I don't think there would be any harm in just making it a habit and giving them to all your trees as a preventative measure. The enhanced microbial activity is bound to be good for everything, and by making your trees more resilient you might not have these problems in the future.
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