I can't stop Brown Rot - Is Cherry Tree Age a factor?

iowajerMay 28, 2010

Well I'm about done. I'm seeing BR & some kind of rust on the leaves of my 15 year old Northstar cherry tree.

I had it last year for the first time and stopped it with a rescue application of Chlorithanil, then I raked and all that jazz prior to winter and vowed to be diligent about spraying the next year.

So I sprayed:

4/12 Dormant oil at green-tip

4/20 Chlorithanil fungicide at bloom with some petal fall

5/02 Bonide Fruit Tree Spray

5/08 Malithion insecticide

5/14 Immunox fungicide

5/21 Infuse fungicide (after finding 20-30 fruit with BR)

5/26 Bonide FTS

5/28 Infuse fungicide (out of frustration...)

I was pretty bummed when I first noticed BR even after having sprayed with Chlorithanil, Bonide FTS, & Immunox.

That's when I tried to obtain some Monterey Fungi Fighter rather quickly. Unable to do that, I found the same ingredient in Bonide Infuse. All I could get though was the bottle with a hose-end sprayer.

I sent an email to Bonide to see if I'd be okay to use it as a tank mix, wanting to be sure it wasn't somehow watered down. I didn't hear back from Bonide before I felt like I couldn't wait any longer so I ran some hose out and drenched the tree using the hose end sprayer. Bonide got back a few hours later and said it would be fine to mix it, that the hose end bottle is the same exact thing as the stuff in their concentrate bottle.

Then I started to notice rust like spots on the leaves, but thought I was maybe just a little too tightly wrapped, maybe I should not worry so much about less than perfect leaves. (But cherry leaf spot was in the back of my little mind!)

Today I was looking it over pretty good and a majority of the fruit now have some brown spots and/or rust on them with a couple that I saw being half brown and the tip of the brown has what looks like the beginnings of white powder mold/spore like stuff.

So even though it's only been 7 days since my last Infuse application, out of frustration (and desperation) I went ahead and hit it again with Infuse - this time as a tank mixture.

I'm not very experienced with managing fruit probs, and given this stupid BR thing has gotten to my NS Cherry both last year and this, I'm wondering if it has anything to do with it being 15 years in the ground or probably 17 years old.

I don't know, mainly just venting I guess.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Weather has a *lot* to do with it.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 10:16PM
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I hope that's all it is Jean001. It has been rather unusual weather. Cold, rainy, soil temps below 50 at night, then all of a sudden 90 and humid. I just thought the fungicides would do the trick. I'm still holding out hope that I'll harvest quite a lot of cherries. The tree has another bumper crop and I guess if I lost 1/2 of them I'd still get wore out pitting and freezing the other 1/2.

Thanks for the reply jean001.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:31PM
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alan haigh

The best way to get cherries in climates not well suited for them is to use Orbit. Immunox is not affective against brown rot except in the blossum blight stage. Orbit won't wash off in the rain and even split fruit will ripen before rotting. Bumper is the generic version of the same chemical.

Don't ever try to protect fruit trees with an all purpose pre-mix- they never work well.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 5:46AM
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Thanks harvestman; I'll try to get my hands on some Orbit or Bumper.

After reading your post I was comparing the lables on-line and it looks like Orbit uses the same thing that's used in the Infuse that I have..., but a lot more of it - like 41.8% -vs- 1.55% of something called Propiconazole.

I may have to see if any garden centers have it, or can get it quicker than I could mail order it in.

Thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 10:19AM
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alan haigh

I like your focus. I think you will succeed and I hope you're ready to net those cherries next year to keep the birds from getting your hard earned harvest.

Cherries sure aren't my most productive fruit here in southeastern NY. This year we're having a perfect season for them besides one cool night about 10 days after they dropped their petals when temps dropped to around 30. A decent crop became light and probably not worth netting. 2nd skunk year in a row. Too bad, the few cherries they will yield may be exceptional if dry clear weather holds.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 3:17PM
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You do not need Orbit or Bumper or much of anything else to successfully grow tart cherries in Iowa. I am from Iowa so know the climate, and believe me Virginia is worse for just about every insect and disease. Yet I have grown tart cherries for 35 years with no problems -- except for the following:

The normal lifespan of a tart cherry tree like Northstar or Meteor is about 20 years, give or take 5 years, but it is not age alone that kills them. It is the bacterial disease that develops with age that does it. I have had 2 Northstars, 2 Meteors, and 1 large Montmorency, all planted in 1979. The Northstars were finished before 20 years, one Meteor lasted 22 years, the Montmorency about the same, and the last Meteor was removed more recently at the ripe age of around 25 years. All of them were victims of bacterial disease and nothing else.

All of the symptoms you describe can be attributed to one or another of the signs of bacterial disease. In advanced stages, the disease, which develops cankers on the limbs, eventually kills those limbs which should be cut off promptly. In the meantime, cherries become smaller, and often rot on the tree, though the trees will continue to produce. Leaves begin to look punky. At 15 years of age, and showing the symptoms you describe, your tree may have about 5 years of useful life left.

None of the cocktail of chemicals you applied to your tree would have much, if any effect on bacterial disease, even expensive products like Orbit, and most particularly the useless combo sprays sold by Bonide. The best tactic against bacterial disease is to delay its onset, and that is done with one or two thorough dormant sprays of a copper product like Kocide that has some real copper strength. You should begin dormant spraying with copper while the trees are young, well before any evident signs of disease appear, just as you would with any stone fruit tree. With foresight, you may be able to hold off this disease for an additional 5-10 years, and you should apply dormant copper to your existing tree as well, although you are conducting a rearguard action that cannot cure the disease at this stage.

Rather than putting a lot of money into expensive chemicals that will do your tree no good, I suggest you put the bucks into a new Northstar or Meteor tree that will be ready to take over when your existing tree checks out, as it surely will do.

I planted a new Meteor 5 years ago when the handwriting was on the wall, and a new Montmorency this spring. The new Meteor is covered with fruit and ready this season to take over from the last old tree I removed. Both my climate and yours, BTW, are ideally suited to growing tart cherries. Some years I have had so many that I made 20 gallons of wine from pure juice.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 3:36PM
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alan haigh

Don's right, actually. I didn't read post carefully and thought we were talking sweet cherries.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 6:17PM
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Jellyman; First off I want to say THANK YOU. I actually want to thank both you and harvestman for making time and taking time to educiate people like me. I know you could have just as eaisly read the post and went on to something else that was more demanding of your time.

Getting that prognosis was a lot like when I took my dog to the vet, he was old and I knew before I took him in that the news was probably not going to be all that good.

I still miss my dog, and I think I'm going to miss my cherry tree too. It's been a rather fine fixture for some time now. But I planted a container grown Montmorency two years ago, so it ought to be able to take up the slack. I still think I'll order in a bare-root Northstar to get in and going too.

In the meantime, I'm gonna get ahold of some Kocide and see about prolonging the existing NS. So far there are no cankers on the limbs/twigs/etc. Just the leaf rust & BR thing. So maybe it'll hold out a few more years.

Thanks again! (Now I'm off to post a Raspberry question)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 2:02PM
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We have a North Star tree that has never borne any fruit. We were sure these were self-polinating, but we cannot figure out why there is no fruit. Any ideas would be helpful.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 10:51PM
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