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Plum Tree Problems

 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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So I planted a plum tree this spring and it was growing fine but in the last few weeks it seems, the tips of many of the tips of the  leaves are turning brown. Also, there is a globe artichoke growing next to the plum which is showing similar signs. Any plum tree experts out there know what this might be?

I'd guess that its too much fertility. The soil is sandy with a bit of loam. I prepped the hole by digging down 2 feet and back filling with a thin layer of hay in the bottom, alternating layers of manure,  soil from the hole, and small dustings of wood ash, The soil is sandy and there are leeks, squash,  artichoke and lambs quarters planted all around the tree. Maybe these are robbing too much nutrients from the plum? Maybe I put too much manure? I don't have a pH meter so I don't know how I could check if thats the problem. I'd hate for this poor tree and artichoke to die.

I'll get pictures up tomorrow if I can remember.
 
Brenda Groth
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my guess would be over fertilizing the hole.

i never add anything but maybe some sod to my tree holes when i plant a tree..dig a good size hole..use some of the sod from the top into the hole that will decompose and fill the hole back with the good topsoil..and NO fertilizer..

works for me
 
Travis Philp
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hmmm crap. Thanks Brenda. You're probably right. I did load that hole with a lot of manure, worrying about my soil being too sandy and having a lack of nutrients so I probably overdid it.

Do you think there's any way to fix this if this is the problem? Should I water with a wood ash solution? Or just douse the mound with a lot of water to leach out some of the nutrients? Something like that maybe?
 
rose macaskie
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manure can burn roots can't it? I think that traditionally people put in some fertilzer at the bottom of the hole when they are going to plant a tree, i don't because my soil is clay and a hole in that will fill up with water like a smimming pool but in normal planting  you put in some fertiliser at the bottom of the hole then the roots can reach it but aren't surronded by it.
  there was a letter here of a woman who said somthign like that she had put in  to the ground pots full of water for the plants and had put a bit of fertiliser in them and the roots went straight to them, roots it seems grow like crazy in the direction of any fertiliser.
  I think that if you can put some fertiliseer in the hole you plant a tree in people often put in bone and blood, then the tree grows much quicker but as clay is heavy if the roots aren't held in heavy clay all the way up they will be rocking around and find it hard to get into the ground around them and as clay gets water logged it gets water proof and any hole in it fills full of water any space in ht ecaly full of manure,  straw, or of  compost woudl fill up with water too . If my soil were different i would give them manure but not surronding their roots were it could burn them. As Brenda Groth says they grow without fertiliser only i think they maybe do so much faster with it. I hav ethe opposite problem from you trees that groow slowly from underfeeding.

    There is a you tube video in which an australian makes a herb spiral that he fills with somthing called lighten, looks like chopped straw or hay and the plants grow straight in that with but a sprinkling of earth on it. I saw another in hwich they were growing potatoes in lighten, in a potatoe bin if i remember right.
  I would have thought that although straw and other unbroken down organic matter absorbes and retains plenty of water in soil, if it is not mixed with much soil it would need more watering than ordinary soil because so much air would get in that it would dry out fast.
Maybe growing in lighten would be good in winter it would be warm. You would have thought it would use a lot of nitrogen as it broke down so you would need to put a lot of nitrogen with it.
  Too much ash might burn the roots too. agri rose macaskie.
 
                                    
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Location: Ishpeming, Michigan
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this looks like good info for diagnosing problems but I don't know if this site offers any organic solutions.you could try identifying the problem then searching for an organic solution using the search bar HTH

http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pp/extension/tfabp/fruitkey.shtml#plum
 
Haru Yasumi
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I too would place my bets on that manure.  There are arguments for fertilizing and not.  Some people avoid making the hole they plant the tree in too cozy to encourage the roots to grow in the surrounding soil and not strangle itself with roots in the cozy, rich, less compacted hole.  This is to help the tree adjust to the surrounding soil and anchor itself well.  Of course, it's always nice to give your plants what they want too so I think it's a matter of sizing up the situation and going with whatever you're comfortable with and what you think will work best in your particular circumstance.
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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hmm, if it was composted manure, I wouldn't think it would cause that much of an issue.  Especially in sandy soil.  Plum roots can be really aggressive and spread like crazy (suckering is very common) even in clay soil.  I would expect your trees roots to be well outside the planting hole by now.

A lot of plums are quite susceptible to fungal/rot issues.  My asian plums tended to get black knot every year, but as long as I lopped off the infected branches, it would out-grow any damage and keep fruiting like crazy.
 
Travis Philp
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Thanks for the advice everyone. IWeird, I stopped getting email notices about posts in this thread. Oh well. I went through that link to the disease key you sent me sue, much appreciated. From what I could gather, it wasn't any disease listed there.

I ended up watering with a bit of wood ash mixed in the water, in the hopes of makign the pH more basic. This seemed to have no immediate effect. Due to the wood ash or not, the tree lost all its leaves recently. I fear it may have died... The artichoke however has bounced back and looks a lot healthier. I think I'll need to invest in a pH meter, and not use such a high amount of semi-composted horse manure in the future. Live and learn...
 
Brenda Groth
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there is a surefire way to tell if the tree is still alive.
Take your fingernail and lightly scratch the bark, if there is some green "life" left in the tree, leave it..

if that area is dead, check a few other areas..going from top to bottom.

if it is all dead below the graft..pull it out...and if there was a guarantee on the tree return it with your receipt..

sometimes it is nothing you did wrong, the roots might have been too weak to support the tree, sometimes they root prune when they process the trees for sale, and they over do, i've had fruit trees die cause the roots were cut back too far.
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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SouthEastFarmer wrote:
hmm, if it was composted manure, I wouldn't think it would cause that much of an issue.  Especially in sandy soil.  Plum roots can be really aggressive and spread like crazy (suckering is very common) even in clay soil.  I would expect your trees roots to be well outside the planting hole by now.



I think I may have put too much semi composted horse manure in the planting hole. I thought I could offset it with the addition of the wood ash but maybe not.

The mix I put in went in this order:

Inside a 2 foot deep  4 foot wide hole I put:
A 1-2 inch layer of hay
1 part hot semi composted horse manure
1 part soil from the hole
approx. 1/3 cup wood ash
1 part well aged horse manure (leached of most nutrients)

Lather rinse and repeat... ( I went through this order about 4-5 times  until the mound was about 20 inche high
 
Travis Philp
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Brenda Groth wrote:
there is a surefire way to tell if the tree is still alive.
Take your fingernail and lightly scratch the bark, if there is some green "life" left in the tree, leave it..


I tried your method and found green on the first shot, quite high up the branches. Hopefully it'll make it through the winter
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Glad to hear the tree is still alive!  Hopefully just gone into a dormant state early this year.
 
Leif Kravis
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Location: Toronto Canada
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simplysue wrote:
this looks like good info for diagnosing problems but I don't know if this site offers any organic solutions.you could try identifying the problem then searching for an organic solution using the search bar HTH

http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pp/extension/tfabp/fruitkey.shtml#plum



@ Rose

would that possibly be Lignin? a type of wood fibre, it is removed from paper pulp as it makes paper yellow with age. it is a very durable wood fibre which gives wood its strength.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I wonder if planting curcubits near a tree would help draw off some excess fertility.

Their roots tend to handle decomposing stuff fairly well, and can go a long distance searching out the highest-nitrogen soil.
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I didn't try cucurbits this year but I did plant squash, artichoke, and leek within a 2' radius of the plum tree. We'll see how the plumb fairs next year. Maybe I'll try cukes.
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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I wouldn't add anything other than plain water to that tree for a couple years.  Let that nutrient loading subside for a while.  Adding more things (i.e. wood ash) to remedy a problem often causes yet more problems.  I would back off and hope for the best.

Also, be careful with wood ash unless you know your soil conditions.  Wood ash is poison where I live.  The last thing our soil needs is alkalinity and salts.  Your soil could be completely different.
 
Travis Philp
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Yeah Ardilla, I'm going to leave it be for awhile and observe...If it even comes back. The buds don't look like they formed, though I've never seen plum buds before.
 
                                
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So far I've had absolutely no luck with plum trees - they all die   However, I would think that your "soil" was way too active.  I would give that mix a minimum of 6 months (amend in fall, plant in spring) before I actually plant a tree in it. 

I left one dead plum in the ground, "hoping" it will come back to life this coming spring.  I'm thinking of just spreading some composted manure on top of the soil now, letting it breakdown into the soil over the winter and then either the tree "miraculously" comes back to life or I can plant a new one.
 
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