Help- What's wrong with the cherry tree we inherited?

trialforjd(5!)April 15, 2014

Just moved here a year ago, so I have no idea how the cherry tree got like this. No history, so not sure if it's natural or artificial/chemical or disease/pest.

Bark peeling back, dry and brittle and then flaking off
Only produced maybe 20-30 cherries although they turned out decent.
One limb was badly damaged and not producing new shoots so i cut it off (see cut mark in picture).
New branches forming well and they now have little flower buds.
Top half of tree looks great with new growth. Bottom half is mostly trunk which is peeling and looks bad. A little oozing but not much.

Any suggestions on what it might be or how to figure it out?


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I'm thinking bacterial canker. If so, there is no "cure". You can lessen its impact by doing things that improve the tree's health -- basically reducing any stresses on the tree -- and that will lessen the impact of the canker. Your title indicates you are in zone 5... if so, that is borderline or worse for sweet cherries, and that could itself be a major cause of stress that allows bacterial canker to invade. You might want to look at a tart (pie) cherry, which are hardy to zone 4 or even zone 3. There are some new "bush" cherries (8' tall bushes) coming out of a 50-year breeding program in Saskatchewan, Canada that have tart-cherry acidity but have sugar levels comparable to sweet cherries, and are hardy to zone 2.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:12AM
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Thank you. It might be a pie cherry tree. So, no over the counter products i could buy to improve health or kill bacteria? If i do get cherries this year, are they safe to eat? Like i said, the top half (new growth) looks healthy.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 12:14PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Any cherries will be perfectly safe. Luckily humans don't get the same diseases as cherry trees ;-) But the tree looks as if it is on its way out, albeit slowly.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 12:48PM
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Would copper help sustain the life of the tree? Or is it too late for that? What about fertilizer? Not looking for big production out of this tree, just don't want to have to replace it. Lots more new shoots and leaves this year, just not sure what to do with the bottom trunk. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:11PM
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I'm sorry to say that your tree is toast. That is definitely canker. I've lost all of my cherries to it. I'm on my 7th attempt and it is an English Morello on Mazzard stock. Its looking good but only 3 years old.
On the bright side, you can cut your tree into pieces and use to smoke pork and chicken.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:06PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

When people here say your tree is toast, they are usually right. My avocado died as they predicted. Get a good harvest, then boil the soil, and get a new cherry tree.

Sad diagnosis.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 7:57PM
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