cauterizing canker on cherry tree

luke.simonAugust 11, 2012

I live in Redmond, WA. I bought a multi-graft cherry tree a year and 3 months ago. The graft has branches for: bing, rainier, van, sam, and stella. In Redmond, Washington, it rains every day all year, except during July through August. Last summer, the tree gave 2 cherries. This summer it gave hundreds.

However, in early Spring, I noticed that the center trunk of the bing part of the graft started to ooze sap. Not knowing anything about trees, I figured this was normal, but as the months went by, the area that oozed started to open up into a wound. Several weeks ago, after doing allot of searching on the web, I self diagnosed the issue as canker. The treatments I came across suggested: (i) spray with anti-fungal copper sprays, (ii) use a sharp knife to cut out the rotten part of the canker and then seal it with a special paint, (iii) cut the entire branch of the tree well below the canker, and (iv) cauterize the canker using a small accurate blow torch.

My tree is very small, too small to use either cutting option. So I decided to start with the sprays. The sprays didn't help. The dry July weather didn't help. Waiting didn't help. The canker was getting larger with each week. It got so large that I could see the inner wood of the tree. Unless I used a scalpel, I wouldn't be able to cut precisely enough to not just cut through the tree.

So I decided to get a small blow torch and last week I cauterized the canker. I burned not just the inner part of the canker, I also burned a couple centimeters around the edge of the canker. It has been a week now and the cauterized canker has not oozed the slightest bit. The branches, leafs, etc, above the cauterized canker seem to be doing fine.

I am hoping that this stopped the canker and saved the tree. If not, I will be forced to cut the top half of my tree off, which will mean all of the bing branches are gone.

Has anybody else used cauterization to treat cankes?

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denninmi(8a)

Not heard of this, but it will be interesting to see if it works. I think the principle behind it is actually pretty sound -- they use cauterization for many medical applications in humans and animals, to stop the spread of disease such as cancers. So I think it has the potential to work.

And you certainly were in a "I don't have much to lose" situation. So why not give it a try?

Let us know what happens down the road, if possible.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 3:43AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

It should not be much different than cutting out the wood if you are careful in your cuts. The advantage of cuts is you only cut out bad stuff and the cauterization may get you more or less than you hoped. Still, it seems like a worthwhile approach and one I had never heard of. If I had a torch I would probably try it on my next canker, and maybe it could effectively burn off some black knots as well.

Please post an update in a month or two.

Scott

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 3:34PM
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richinrichmond(7a)

I had a cherry tree with similar canker, which I treated with a blowtorch. The canker was low on the trunk at primary scaffold branching, so I couldn't prune it off. I got some temporary improvement, but the canker kept coming back larger. This spring I had to chop the whole thing down because of widespread disease, and I was afraid it would infect its neighbors. I had a previous post a while back, with references, but I can't find it tonight. I think the canker spreads through the vascular system of the tree and can't be completely eliminated, although sour cherries will often poke along for years despite canker. Hope that helps, and good luck!
Rich

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:14PM
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letsski

I had the same issue. Canker infected my Stella tree and I lost the entire back half of the tree. Unfortunately, I didn't realize what was going on until the disease was pretty advanced.

I started aggressively treating with copper and a blow torch. Now ten years later, the tree still loses some small branches, but it is growing and putting out new growth every year.

The tree is now 25 years old and just delivered our biggest crop ever.

I don't think you can cure the tree, but you may be able to manage the disease.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:02PM
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foolishpleasure

Wat is canker? How can you prevent it? Copper does not a thing. It was recommended for tust but it did not work.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 3:31AM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Copper slows it down but you can only cut it out or cut back to fresh wood. It seems some trees can live with it if its not too bad.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:45AM
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