Are spindle single cordon fruit trees, or how does a tree affect soil-borne fruit rot?
A friend of mine, a local organic farmer in New York, planted a single-cordon apple orchard, where a tree of the variety Redstreak (a.k.a. Liberty) was grafted on a rootstock (a.k.a. Redstreak or Liberty) of the variety M92. She didn’t know what it was going to be, but it turns out that the tree doesn’t fall far from the tree. There’s a story about a tree falling down and killing a farmer, but it turns out that the farmers, or more precisely, the trees, were much more at risk.
The fruit on these trees is exceptionally low. The yield is poor, the size and shape of the fruits are off, and the apples drop and do not mature. In the winter, the tree does not lose any apples, but instead they fall to the ground and rot. It has been my experience that apple trees with a high single-cordon fruit yield are susceptible to the following soil-borne diseases:
In this orchard, the trees were treated for fire blight prior to planting. They have a high fruit yield and are grafted. In the late spring or summer, I noticed a few apples with a brownish discoloration on them. I did not know what they were at the time and had to look them up to find out that they were the result of the root rot caused by C. gloeosporioides.
This fungus attacks the roots of the plant, and can travel through the soil. There are a few ways that a tree can be infected with this fungus. It can happen through the following ways:
Bruised or broken roots
Fungus propagated by spores or by fragments of the fungus
Bored and cracked soil
Watering the tree too deeply
Planting or transplanting the tree in moist soil
If you have identified a tree with a root infection, you can help your tree recover by watering your tree from the bottom up. In some cases, fungicides may be required to keep the fungus at bay. In most cases, the tree can be successfully treated with the right fungicide, fungicide timing and placement, and in some cases, a rootstock transplant may be required. I was told by the nurseries at the University of Washington that they have had a lot of success with the use of potassium sulfate (K2SO4), calcium bicarbonate (Ca(HCO3)2), and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) when treating apple root rot. I have not been successful with these treatments myself.
My recommendation is to inspect your trees from the ground up in the fall and winter. This should be done on a yearly basis. Look for tree that has “stinky,” “lemony” or “hairy” (yellowish) rot. If there is a specific tree that seems to be more symptomatic, feel free to let the tree go in the winter. By keeping a constant eye on the trees, you should be able to catch a tree before the damage is severe.
We hope that you have enjoyed this post! Check out our other tree care posts.
I would love to hear about how you treat for apple root rot and what your experiences have been with it! Let us know your thoughts on the matter!
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