Sudden death of apricot tree

joe_from_glasfordJune 22, 2012

My moongold apricot has died over the period of the last couple of weeks, any ideas? It's three years old and has been extremely healthy in previous years, but the leaves wilted all at once and it appears to be totally gone.

Could those of you with knowledge of apricots please give me some ideas to go research and narrow it down? I have two other nearby apricots, and quite a few stone fruits across the yard and don't want this to continue.

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I'm fairly sure that I drowned an apricot and a plum once, but the decline took weeks. Once the wilting starts one tends to water more, and in poorly drained soil this can kill stone fruits.

Other than that I've probably killed 'cots through winter kill and canker mishandling, but that doesn't sound like it could be the case here.

Others may well have better observations.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 7:40AM
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I once killed a cot by overspraying it.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 8:18AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Dig down around it and see whats going on in the soil, almost sure your trouble lies there. Al

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:20AM
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What would I look for in the soil? A fungus? Something else?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:54AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Do borers ever get apricots? They can kill peaches.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:08PM
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alan haigh

What usually happens with these fragile trees is cambium kill, often in early spring. Sometimes it seems the kill creates a kind of delayed action and trees flower, leaf out and look perfectly healthy until late spring or so. I do not know exactly what conditions create this injury or delayed symptoms but the injury itself certainly has to do with a pretty hard freeze at a point where trees are softening up. Apricots lose their winter hardening earlier than any fruit tree I know.

In my nursery I have a plum that apparently suffered the same thing this year although no trees around it, including the same variety, suffered a similar fate. The tree was fully leafed out and healthy looking and then seemed to die overnight with brown leaves still attached. In this case, I can see the problem area along the trunk but with apricots it isn't generally apparent by superficial inspection in my experience.

When there are no cankers or root injury or obvious girdling i think cambium injury is the only thing that causes this kind of sudden death, although that is a leap. I'm just a grower and not a pathologist.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Borers can get them all!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:02PM
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My Apricot trees "Moorpark" "Sweetheart" and some Starks sport of "Moorpark" that escapes me now, are tough as a boot. They sailed through the minus 28 temps we had winter before last. They don't bear here three years out of four, mind you, but they tolerate cold weather very well, and even naturalize in our dry, pinion pine savannah. is 'Moongold' one of those super cold hearty varieties that were hyped a few years ago? I don't think it ever caught on. Maybe for good reason.

Anyway, I don't think you have to do anything special to get an apricot to at least survive cold temps. I wish I had info on a reliable producer for cold temps, but I have had no luck there.

I have no idea what cause of death was, but it probably wasn't cold weather.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 1:04AM
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alan haigh

Koko, it isn't that a fully hardened apricot tree can't take cold temps, as I've lost trees I manage at sites well protected from extreme cold and I've observed no correlation between cold winters in my Z6 and their sudden death.

I believe the problem lies in their early awakening from dormancy. A tree begins losing their cold hardiness well before they begin to leaf out and apricots come out of dormancy well before the other fruit that we grow.

Not all smokers die young. I've been managing apricots at many sites for a couple decades in a marginal area and I assure you these trees are more fragile than any species I grow, although there are many healthy, long lived trees in the mix of my rounds.

I have discussed this tendency of sudden death of apricots with Robert Purvis, a man well known for his knowledge of apricots, as well as others, including an adviser at Adams County Nursery, and the general consensus among experts is that the affliction is usually cold related and that apricots are particularly sensitive.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:43AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Apricots are subject to various root diseases which can lead to death of the tree - oak root fungus is another one. There is a spot in our yard where we have lost 4 apricot trees which previously seemed healthy, while trees in other areas do fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Apricot root disease - example

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:09AM
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alan haigh

Joe, you can contact Robert Purvis if you search for him on the internet. He is very cooperative with northern apricot fans in sharing info. He probably has written a hand-out about this problem.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:45AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Re: borers in apricots, I have been getting a major lesson in borers in the last few weeks. Peach wood is much less hard than apricot or plum wood, so the borers do a lot more damage to a peach. I don't think they can even bore into my older plums, they are too thick and tough. I did find borers in both plum and apricot, but the area they damaged was about half the size.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:53AM
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alan haigh

I never suffered damage to plums for years and than in my nursery the borers really set me back on the majority of my plum trees, killing a couple. I think the damage was to Euros, but unfortunately memory fails.

Apricots have not been a problem yet.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:41AM
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