Can you tell me why this peach is shriveled up?
Here is another picture of it.
There seems to be something wrong with the leaves on all of my cherry trees. A month ago or so I noticed the black spots all over the leaves. I researched and found out that they have a fungal disease. I sprayed the cherry trees with a homemade fungicide. I found the fungicide recipe on the internet.
baking soda + hydrogen peroxide + antibacterial soap + water.
But after spraying, my cherry trees have gotten even worse, and now pretty much all the leaves have fallen off. What can I do to save my cherry trees?
I also have a problem with my plum tree. I noticed that the leaves were brown a bit shriveled so I watered the tree. But the next day It was even worse! What is wrong with this plum tree, and how can I help it?
From the branch in the photo your tree looks dead. For fungus, I use Spectracide Immunox. You can buy it at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Sears. If your whole tree look like that then you are looking at buying some new trees in the spring.
It is impossible to do diagnosis with those pictures because so many problems are possible. How is the drainage of the soil? Has there been adequate water during the growing season and if so is the soil airy or mud?
That is where I start when trees aren't growing well but plum trees can be killed by borers and weather as well. I have a couple dead plums in my nursery this year that leafed out and looked fine until mid-July and then died for no apparent reason. It happens that way sometimes.
Your shriveled peach could be the result of brown rot or insect injury. You will probably have to spray starting right at petal fall in your location to get any of many species of fruit- certainly for plums and peaches.
When did you plant those trees? The fact that they're all dying together suggests a single cause. Also, it might be bacterial and not fungal, but your recipe for anti-microbial is not really what I'd use. A combination of cinnamon oil, clove oil, lemongrass oil and thyme oil with vegetable soap (synthetic antibacterial soap is very harsh) will kill most bacteria and fungi without killing your plants. Peroxide and baking soda can burn leaves.
If they don't die, next year you might want to spray the tops with vermicast tea early in the summer to provide competing microbes. Also, if you use chem fertilizer or overdo it with manure it can cause sudden blooms of disease like this.
Incomplet, as a full time fruit tree caretaker I completely disagree with your suggestions (besides the possibility of a common cause) and they don't appear science based. If I'm wrong please show me some research of the concoction you suggest effectively protecting against common fruit tree diseases.
As far as I know, fertilizers don't cause sudden fatal disease when they kill fruit trees- they desiccate the roots. Excessive N can cause this and also create rank growth that may make trees more susceptible to pests, but even organically derived N can do this. It is possible that there is a chemical problem in the soil that could have been caused by poor amending decisions or a lot of other reasons but this is a bit down on the check-list in my book.
If the trees are to be protected from any diseases they should be specifically diagnosed, probably by a pathologist, unless symptoms make it obvious. This is where cooperative extensions can help. Also to pinpoint any excessive minerals in the soil such as boron if you happen to get that far down the diagnostic list. Much higher on the list would simply be soil pH.
If you have a lot of peaches like that, pick them and get them out of your orchard. Pick them off the ground if they've fallen. Mummies like that can spread disease.
The plum sure looks dead. The best way to save it is probably to assume it won't come back and order a replacement tree. Murphy may resurrect it in the spring. If not, you've got the replacement tree.
My concoctions are based on plenty of science. I don't know how to post links here, but you can easily search google scholar for "compost tea fungal/bacterial disease" and get tons of papers. From what I hear (I haven't read in depth) only compost teas prepared areated are functional, but they have consistent efficacy in out-competing disease organisms.
The other mixture I mentioned is based on the antifungal/antibacterial properties of eugenol (clove oil) thymol (thyme) cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) and citrol (lemongrass). Searching "Antibacterial/antifungal [chemical name]" will turn up plenty.
Unless he's had an accident on his property involving a giant truck carrying caustic chemicals, then I wouldn't expect soil pH to suddenly jump far enough out of whack to kill all of his trees. My running assumption is bacterial or fungal disease, although I don't know enough about how his trees are set up, his property, or his methods to determine a likely cause.
Also, I am fully aware that overfertilization with compost can cause N overload issues. In fact, that is how I know overfertilization is one of the major causes of disease.
Another possibility is incorrect/insufficient pruning.
Also, for the record, I don't consider planting trees in straight rows, mutilating them into unnatural shapes, ripping up the soil between them yearly, pumping them with chemicals and spraying them with poisons to qualify as "taking care" of them, even in the remotest sense. The "scientists" who work for the big chemical companies might condone that sort of thing, but it is in total ignorance of the ecosystems in which the trees you are "caring for" naturally depend.
Try to bring even one aspect of the tree's growth under your control, and you throw two more things completely out of balance, and so you respond by trying to apply more control to fix the things you've broken. Rinse, repeat. That is what "scientific" agriculture is about.
Incomplet, love to see some pictures of your trees loaded with sound fruit and grown in a humid east coast climate. This site has plenty of serious fruit tree growers like me- I started organic here 25 years ago, and those of us in the humid regions understand the complexity of trying to grow fruit where the climate isn't like a dessert during the growing season.
Idealists often claim to have scientific validation for their claims but I know of no serious scientist that has surveyed the literature and believes it shows that compost tea has any proven efficacy against any of the major fruit diseases we face here.
That will lead to articles written by someone who is trained to evaluate scientific literature and her conclusions of the efficacy of compost tea.
There are plenty of organic fruit growers in the east, I challenge you to find one that proscribes to your methods that is successful here. None of them grow stone fruit commercially without sulfur as far as I know. What and where is your experience?
If you have proof of your claims please post links. It is not enough to be "antifungal" as every fungal disease has its own biology. Not even any synthetic fungicide treats all fungicide fruit pests.
Make that last sentence end with "all fungus fruit pests"
The only fruit tree in my yard is a chokecherry which was given little care and planted when I was about 7 years old, and some mulberries which are fast growing and prolific, and don't seem to mind the ultisol. My pride is in the two rock maples in the front yard, which are the healthiest and largest I (and the guy who brought our latest maple) have ever seen in this state (40ft and counting, now shading the driveway nicely).
There also used to be some plum trees on the corner up the street from me, which remained healthy although unproductive until they were purposefully cut down by the new owner of that property to plant roses. There is also a pear tree towards the front of my subdivision which has produced prolifically every year, even in this humid warm climate. I don't know that the people living there take any care of it, either. I've NEVER once seen any of these trees, in spite of neglect and climate, turn colors and die.
You have half a point that my mixture may not kill whatever is killing his trees, however the suggestion I gave includes at least two broad fungicides and thymol, which reduces the resistance of microorganisms to the effects of other aromatic (and conventional) antimicrobials.
You wanted a link to a study on compost tea?
Here's an official usda.gov study (pdf link):
Personally, when I manage to plant my own orchard, I will take care that every tree is planted such that it can grow healthy with minimal care, and with sufficient variety and companion planting that the trees do not spread disease and pests, turn black and die. Personally I would never even bother to use either compost tea or an herbal spray, because trees raised naturally in a healthy environment do not require it. If a tree is so weak that it succumbs completely to disease in that way, then either I have done something terribly wrong, or the tree is of weak genetics and should be culled from the orchard anyway.
The compost T study was about preventing damping off of seedlings in a greenhouse- not eliminating disease already within a plants tissue.
Growing fruit is really hard- please don't distribute untested advice. You may discourage people who follow your advice and then suffer the consequences of your inexperience. Lose a crop and you lose a whole year- lose a tree and it's more.
You are correct about compost tea, however if you will check my first post, I mentioned "if they survive, spray them with it early next growing season". CT is a preventitive, not a cure.
As bad as his trees look, and that it occurred all at once, suggests that the root cause is something he did to them previously, but he hasn't provided enough information to determine what that might be.
Also, without knowing precisely what it is that's killing them, which may take too long to determine, there's no way to prescribe a particular chemical product that will work for certain. The herbal spray I suggested is both anti-fungal and antibacterial to a strong degree, and if you wanted you could add tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil to the mix if you're paranoid. If the root cause is something persistent, no amount of spraying may save them. As late in the season as it is and as bad as they look, it may already be too late.
Most of my knowledge of fruit trees comes from Masanobu Fukuoka's work and 40 years of experience in transitioning an orchard from chemicals to zero input organic farming. He mentions thoroughly the sorts of conditions that can lead to this sort of damage, which excluding possible soil-based problems might include improper or neglect of pruning, and leaving fruit tree thinnings on the ground to attract pests and diseases, but I know that diseases like this can also spread following major pest infestations from things like mites. Killing off their predators with pesticides, and a lack of diversity of plantings to divert the pests can also contribute. Anything done at this point is just a band-aid over the real causes of the problem, given after the trees have been reduced to the brink of death from whatever mistreatment they suffered.
I understand fully the value and productivity of a fruit tree. If properly cared for a tree can produce well for many generations with very little maintenance. If you make a mistake of this magnitude, it is far better to learn what all you did wrong and not repeat it, than to simply seek out the most expedient method to treat symptoms. Mistakes are costly, sure, but failing to learn the causes of those mistakes is fatal. It's also a lot more work and technical knowledge than is actually necessary to have consistently healthy trees. Sure, you could get leaf cultures done and find out exactly what microorganism is killing them off, but that doesn't tell you why the trees were so unhealthy that they succumbed to it in the first place.
I should also mentioned that Fukuoka-san killed off plenty of trees before he figured out how to care for them properly. It's not the end of the world, but if you're not prepared to take some hits while learning then you're probably not suited to caring for plants as a profession.
Where was your 40 years experience? What diseases were you treating? Why am I bothering? (40 years transitioning an orchard to organic?) I surrender, let the advisee beware.
With such different fruit having issues you really have to start from the beginning. Use Gardenweb this fall and winter and learn about peaches, cherries ect. when to spray and fertilize. Don't get sucked into organic growing unless you are really gung ho. I know people that thought organic was the way and the next year they wanted to just rip out all their trees because it just doesn't work well in some places. don't listen to anyone that hasn't grown fruit trees personally for a while.
Fukuoka did his work following WWII, in a time when "organic farming" was completely unheard of, and was one of the first and most influential people in the organic and permaculture movements. His father, who's farm he inherited, was a chemical farmer who was considered an exemplar of what an orchard should be, and his father ran a deficit during his 40 year keep of the orchard. Fukuoka managed to run a profit during his own stay.
Yes, he spent 40 years learning how to allow fruit trees to grow in natural shapes, information not provided by "conventional" agricultural textbooks. In trying to produce a natural form he ended up with many tangled trees, many of which became harbors for pests and disease and many of which died.
He did not spray with pesticides or antimicrobials nor even compost tea, nor did he "treat diseases" for any of his trees. What he did was learn how to manage trees in natural forms, with a single vertical leader with radial branches, and to provide an environment in which pests and disease would not run out of control to the point that any treatment was necessary. He also had to figure out how to control weeds without herbicides or ploughing, and how to provide sufficient nutrients to his orchard and fields and to build soil without chemicals or machinery.
Given that nothing in mainstream agriculture supported the kind of thing he set out to do, it is not terribly surprising that it took a good 20 years for him to get the farm into good condition. When his techniques and farm became well developed, he stopped having the pest and disease problems his neighbors growing the same things experienced.
With today's information not only do I have access to the experience gained from his mistakes, but also the insights and techniques developed by others since. Even with little personal experience, I could certainly do a lot better than he did when starting out, and certainly like him I would not spray, fuss, or try to treat any pest or disease problems that may come through my trees. The idea that you should even try to do so is foolish; trees have done fine on their own for millions of years without humans to nanny them around. That trees under modern human care experience overwhelming episodes of pests and disease is a testament to our stupidity.
Incomplet please plant some different fruit trees and use whatever method you want. Then get back to us with your successes and failures.
@john: I have neither the time nor space where I am currently living to properly plant or care for fruit trees. When my hugelkultur beds are planted up next year I'll happily show you how productive my methods are in general though.
Also, whether you decide to go organic or chemical, you will have to learn what materials and methods to use, and what details to pay attention to. Each has its own learning curves, and in each case if you proceed ineptly you end up with equally bad results, and if adeptly then potentially equally good. In the one case your harvest will be full of poisons and in the other not; one potentially full of nutrients and the other devoid. However, you cannot use the methods of planting and arranging your orchard/fields for chemical farming and expect it to work for organic farming. Likewise if you use chemicals you can't expect organic farming techniques to work (although some will).
It's not as simple as "chemicals are easy and organic is hard". Nor are chemicals universally the more profitable route.
Oh, and he lives in VA. The drought barely hit us in the southeast this year, and his climate is very favorable for a wide variety of fruit trees. Looking at a soil map he may be sitting on Ultisol, but that doesn't kill your trees outright.
Having started out with a "no-spray" philosophy, I think I can understand your zeal. I've also had the benefit of reading about the experiences of many others who started out "no-spray". Keep in mind my comments are directed to growing fruits in humid/rainy climates like my own.
I've found folks in the "no-spray" (or "home remedy spray") category end up taking one of two paths. After trying all the tricks of companion planting, beneficial insects, home concoctions, special pruning, ect., they one, continue to cling to their philosophy and figure out which fruits they can grow successfully in their climate without sprays. The drawback is that this limits what fruits they can grow. Pears, mulberries, pawpaws, blackberries are some examples of fruits that can typically be grown with some success under a no-spray regimen.
The other avenue that is chosen is that the new fruit grower eventually comes to realize that to grow his/her favorite fruits, he must spray with chemicals (Most stone fruits would fall under this category.)
The reason for this is fairly simple. While trees have done fine on their own for millions of years, modern travel has continually introduced new pests. SWD is brand new to the U.S. and becoming a big problem. I know of no organic controls for this pest. Similarly BMSB is a big problem in a lot of eastern fruit growing states and is spreading west. Oriental fruit moth, and Japanese beetle were not introduced to the U.S. until the 1900s. Even Codling moth and Fireblight are not indigenous to the U.S.
The problem with relying on nature to treat these pests is that (especially with internal feeding grubs) each female beetle or moth is capable of laying 100s of eggs. The eggs hatch on the surface of the fruit and immediately tunnel into the fruit where they are protected from predators. There simply can not be enough predators to consume the eggs before they hatch. Because of the prolificacy of the female, it doesn't take a high hatch rate to ruin almost all the fruit on a given tree.
Granted there are examples where folks live in a humid climate and because of their unique area (very few fruit trees in proximity) they have little pest pressure and can raise a good amount of fruit without any sprays. However, more often than not, people start out with high ideals of no-spray and learn it's just not possible where they live, growing the fruits they want to grow.
I've noticed a lot of the "purist" organic literature is written from people in arid climates. This summer with the drought, I had the unique experience to grow fruit in more or less arid conditions. In my area, recorded rainfall was 6.5" from April 1st to about the last week in August (about a 5 month period). Pest and disease pressure was very minimal. Most of the apples on unmanaged trees are in perfect shape. This is the first time I've seen this. It occurred to me that if this was my normal experience, I'd have no framework for understanding the extent of pest pressures typical for folks in humid climates.
Lastly keep in mind there has been a lot of research growing things organically. Organic produce sells for a high price. No-spray would command even higher prices. I disagree modern agriculture is locked into a paradigm orchestrated by chemical companies to use their products. Growth of organic foods has experienced near double digit annual growth for the last decade. Organic growers use any means available to assist them. By far, most organic produce is grown in the arid west. It's just not as simple as going back to methods someone used 60 years ago.
Well said Olpea. I'm still early in the journey of which you speak, but it seems like there is at least one more option- namely physical barriers, such as bagging. I did that this year with my first crop of apples and the difference between the bagged and un-bagged (left as a control) is extreme. Another possibility is Surround (kind of an in-between ground for no spray vs spraying strong stuff).
If you are willing to take it to the next level like Fruitnut, you could beat the rain, humidity, and bugs by making your own climate with a greenhouse. I may try this someday, but since I prefer apples to stone-fruit (I'm dabbling a bit with them too) I can wait.
I agree with John- I'd like to hear from Incomplet after he has a few years of actual experience with fruit trees. Reading a book won't give you 40 years of experience- just some ideas to try out.
@olpea: I've seen how obnoxious fruit flies can be (they make it to the grocery store whether you spray or not), but they're not the end of the world. Japanese beetles and moths are not such a big problem (we had a JB problem here for a few years, but they're gone), and push/pull (or birds) can handle them well. I also see BSMB here regularly, but they aren't that numerous nor voracious. The biggest pest I see is slugs, at least in my area (which has a good deal of natural forest cover).
Also, fukuoka lived in japan on ultisol, and it's quite regularly humid there, and I live in Georgia, I know all about humidity. We occasionally get bad droughts here, but this year we got a good soak in the spring, maybe 2-3 weeks of dry, then the rains picked up gradually over the summer and have been regular.
I don't know how the people you know have been growing, but I do know that Fukuoka used acacias as companion trees, and that they both attract and repel different pests to various degrees. If I were living in a pest breeding farm area, I would keep my sensitive trees spread out well between trees that don't share pests, but also keeping them towards the center of my property where they would be inside of my ecosystem and buffered more from the surroundings. If you've got 15+ acres, I bet you could make it work.
Fukuoka didn't buy any insects for his farm (I doubt he could have) and I think it's a waste of time, and a pain. In the end you might end up with something invasive on top of that (like those biting ladybugs). Besides planting companion (really fodder) trees, fukuoka also allowed weeds to grow (mostly), and probably some flowers in his field areas that served as a harbor and attractant for various insects. The small wildflowers and weeds that took over my back yard have attracted lacewings recently, which I had never seen before. Weeds and small stuff are as important as the big stuff. Attracting birds is another fairly easy option. Plant some trees/sunflowers etc that feed birds, and within a few years you'll see all kinds of things. Just from feeding the birds on this ~1 acre we get enough flying through to scour the trees and air of most big pests in the surrounding 100 acres or so.
Good point. I thought of Fruitnut and Scott as good examples of fruit growers who don't spray, or use organic methods effectively. I think if the OP could learn a lot from reading their old posts.
As mentioned, I think it's pretty tough to be definitive about any causes for the problems the OP is experiencing. Around here cherry leaf spot is the biggest foliage problem of cherry trees. If I had to guess on the demise of the plum tree, it looks like a tree that could have wallowed out. They sometimes die quickly like that (leaves attached) when they wallow out.
At this point I think we are talking in circles (i.e. you essentially believe things like fruit moths, SWD, BMSB, aren't that bad and can be taken care of by natural predators like birds and lacewings, and I disagree.
Don't be surprised you've got people's ire up. When you say things like, "I would not spray, fuss, or try to treat any pest or disease problems that may come through my trees. The idea that you should even try to do so is foolish; trees have done fine on their own for millions of years without humans to nanny them around. That trees under modern human care experience overwhelming episodes of pests and disease is a testament to our stupidity." it's irksome to people who know how difficult it is to raise fruit and have experienced failure after failure to pests.
My other thoughts are about Fukuota. I've no idea what the climate is like in Japan, since I've never been there, but I would not automatically assume he had the same pest pressures 60 years ago in a place halfway around the globe, just because he had a humid climate. Someone who lived in Hawaii once told me they don't have many problems with insects (in spite of the tropical weather and humidity) because the trade winds carry a lot of the insects into the ocean.
I've not read Fukuota's book, but while he may have contributed to some sound management practices that can help minimize pesticide use today (pruning trees to keep them open and allow foliage to dry faster, low density planting, ect.) I think one should be cautious to accept anyone's testimony unless the success has been repeatedly duplicated by others.
I remember once speaking with a woman at a fruit grower's event who was interested in starting to grow fruit. She told me about a farm she visited in Japan. From what she described it sounded like a biodynamic farm. She said the farm visit changed her life. She told me the way they pick tomatoes is to place your hand underneath a tomato (not allowing your hand to touch the tomato) and if the tomato is ripe, it will drop in your hand. She really believed that was the proper way to "pick" tomatoes. I've grown a lot of tomatoes in my life and they've never dropped in my hand like that. My point is a lot of times people are so passionate about the way something should work they write books claiming it does work that way, when it really doesn't. They embellish their successes and minimize the failures of the philosophy in question.
"I think one should be cautious to accept anyone's testimony unless the success has been repeatedly duplicated by others."
Even if you duplicate the success yourself you should be cautious. I've had the benefit of not only growing fruit on the west coast and the east coast, but also on scores of sites in the same areas- sometimes only a few miles apart. What works here often doesn't work there. Scientific evaluation consists of many controlled studies where the results are never completely conclusive. I've often made a fool of myself assuming anecdotal observations are the holy grail and I'm sure I'll continue doing so.
It is fascinating how certain teachers, especially those obsessed with their own work and become grandiose in their own assessment of the importance and uniqueness of that work sometimes get a cult following that drink the cool-aid and gives the teacher the god-like status that is even beyond what he (she) himself perceives.
I'm not saying Fuky is one of these as I'm not familiar with his work, but Alex Shigo fills the bill in my book. Shigo's work was extremely important on our understanding of trees, but his interpretation of his work went way beyond what his research revealed. I don't even no if Fuky did any actual research where controls were used.
Wow! Thanks for all your advise. But I am a Woman. I don't know much about those trees. They were planted 3-4 years ago, and I haven't looked at them until recently. I don't know much about orchards or trees at all.
I reference fukuoka because his examples are typical of permaculture, although he does talk a good deal of nonsense. His climate is also more similar to ours than, say, Austria or Australia.
You know, living on a small property I rarely think about things like keeping chickens, and I also assume that if someone is growing "organic" on a commercial scale, that they would automatically be raising free range (100% of feed) chickens/turkeys/ducks. You get a profit of meat and eggs and free pest control at once. Fukuoka also raised ducks and chickens.
As for "pest pressure", wherever stink bugs (or any other pest) hang out, so do their predators, including chickens. If stink bugs coming out of the weeds was the true cause of their extreme number, then why do I, living in a weedy forested suburbia, see no problems with them eating all the roses and tomatoes and everything else? Why do farms where pesticides are sprayed to eliminate them produce the greatest number of them? If these "scientifically proven" treatments are so effective at controlling them, then why should someone farming organic in a heavy agricultural area have pest problems from their neighbors' activities?
@Op: what does being a woman have to do with knowing about trees? And also, your trees needed pruning due to their previous owners' treatment, and not knowing that, you let their branches become tangled. When that happens, they lose circulation and become a harbor for pests and disease. I can understand how you might get confused about why a tree would suddenly suicide itself if allowed to grow "on its own", but most fruit trees are pruned into shapes that don't match their natural growth pattern at all, and once that happens they must be pruned regularly for the lifespan of the tree whenever the branches start to grow out and tangle.
ok. But is it completely too late to save them? I mentioned being a woman, because I was called a man several times in this post.
Your statement " But I am a Woman. I don't know much about those trees. " could be perceived as offensive by many women.
I believe knowing or not knowing about trees has nothing to do with gender. It has a lot to do with you interest and willingness to learn. Most of us (if not all) started out with not knowing. Then, we learn from trying, failing, reading, asking,(not in any particular order)and asking some more.
If you are willing to learn, you'll gain knowledge in a short time. You've started by asking questions at the right forum. Good luck.
OT - we can't tell. Insufficient date. There may not be anything seriously wrong with your peach if you just have one or two mummified fruits. That happens.
The cherry - we just see one leaf. Could be cherry leaf spot. Maybe. If so, there are fungicides to treat it, but this is not the best time. Start in the late fall when the tree is dormant. Before that, rake and dispose of the infected leaves. It's likely you can save the tree.
The plum - it may or may not die, depending on what's wrong with it. Hard to tell from just the photo.
Your problem trees are all stone fruits. They tend to have similar problems and similar modes of treatment. This makes treatment a little more convenient. A whole lot depends on your location. Was it wet, was it dry?
You need to consult your state university website or extension service for a spray guide for tree fruits and use that as a general guide for routine care. But for the specific problems you have now, it's hard to tell.
And ignore Incomplete, who is here to blow his own horn. Heed Harvestman.
Your cherry trees and plum seem doomed to me. The peaches, as long as they still have leaves, might be saved. I think stone fruits are usually pruned early in the growing season, so I don't know that pruning now would be a good idea. Pictures of the canopies of your trees would be very helpful. You will definitely want to remove any remaining fruit from the vicinity of the trees. I notice I did refer to you as a he, pardon my default assumption.
@bamboo_rabbit: no, the majority of my neighbors are proles and can't afford to spray their property. I did find out something else though, what I had mistakenly identified as deer flies which I see often are actually robberflies. Nature requires more than "not spraying" to keep populations of things in check. Also, no spraying doesn't equal "no pests". If your goal is total annihilation, you are guaranteed to fail. With sufficient habitat, if you have any pest that runs out of proportion, within a few years you are almost guaranteed that some predator will wander in and proliferate in the void. And, as I said, we don't have chickens here, but we get a wide variety of migratory and native birds. I should mention it took years (maybe a full decade) to attract so many, but over time more and more have learned to stop here to eat and rest, and more have settled in and reproduced. They eat bugs in flight and in the trees that ground-dwelling chickens probably couldn't eat, and each bird from the hundreds or thousands that fly through every year can eat it's weight in bugs probably every week. An orchard that doesn't include tall trees that provide food and shelter for birds will not have any, except maybe the sort that follows you around eating the seeds you plant.
You have no understanding of how the real world works. The pests show up because there is a large food source IE my garden. It is no different than a flock of cedar waxwings showing up to a cherry orchard. Happens every year, has the hawk population exploded and controlled that food source yet? Nope. The amount of food provided by the garden is unnatural and your assertion that a natural solution will cure the problem is absurd.
I have 1000's of birds.....the bug eaters are up in the canopy of the 100 year old oaks in the back yard eating the bugs that they have always naturally evolved to eat and completely ignoring the bugs in my garden. I do not spray my garden mostly because it does no good against stinkbugs anyway.
I want to welcome you to GardenWeb. Please don't be discouraged. This is a great place to learn and I am truly grateful for all the input I've received over the years.
I wish I could offer advice but I can't. I do know that there are a lot of very knowledgeable people giving free advice for the sheer love of fruit.
If in doubt about someones advice it's good to click on their personal link and see how long they've been members, and then even search for some of their other posts. It doesn't take too long to figure who's advice is good and who's isn't.
Part of the reason commercial growers don't raise chickens in the orchard is because it is not a good practice under GAP (Good Agricultural and Handling Practices) at least not during the growing season when you'd get some benefit of pest control. Not to mention the chickens would probably peck all the fruit they could get to. That's not to say some orchards don't run livestock during the growing season, but in today's litigation happy climate, they are probably playing with fire. Food scares from bacterial contamination seem to occur on a fairly frequent basis. It's a different world than Fukuokas.
I did not mean to say that I don't know anything about trees because I'm a woman. I just wanted to specify, because pretty much everyone in this post has referred to me as a man.
incomplet. My chickens have access to the orchard but they almost never even go in there. My chickens do eat stinkbugs by the truckloads, but I still see many every year. And I don't spray for them. So I don't think that chickens are sufficient stink bug controllers.
Uh Oh.... I just read milehighgirl's post. I did fertilize my trees with chicken manure. I also fertilized it with cow manure that I got from my cows. I carried chicken and cow manure to my trees by the cartload. literally. I think I loaded at least a dozen or more carts of manure and brought it to fertilize my trees. I Also have 24 grape vines, and 34 trees.
"I've never heard anyone else complain of chickens eating their crops, either"
Really? Perhaps you should do a bit more reading. Chickens will eat almost anything, from grass to fish, fruit to mice. Given that chickens have wings they are tough to keep out of fruit. They are also great jumpers. Blackberries, peaches, blueberries, tomatoes, cabbage and lettuce are just a few of their favorites.
Maybe we are getting somewhere now. I am not up on the chemistry of manure but I do believe it must be composted first before you can use it as fertilizer. I am just regurgitating what I read in Steve Solomon's book on compost. This may indeed be a reason your trees are dying.
That chickens carry salmonella is learned by personal experience.
@milehigh: Salmonella kills people, not trees. There's nothing in common manures that should be pathogenic to trees. If she overapplied manure, it might attract pests and/or cause outbreaks like this, but ~12 or so carts of manure doesn't sound like enough to cause problems if spread out over 34 trees, although it's possible. Also, turns out the cantaloupe thing was listeria, which you can find in abundance in your local grocery store anyway. I wouldn't worry about whatever chickens leave in the fields, but I would definitely compost their bedding before doing anything with it. I question the practice of allowing people to file suit for failure to wash their own produce =\.
@orchard: How thick did you pile the manure around the trees? More than an inch? Less? Did you make a mound of manure around the bases of the trees?
Are the branches of your trees growing tangled and crossing each other? How many of 34 trees are sick?
I'm surprised your chickens avoid the orchard, considering they're bred from jungle fowls. What kind of chickens have you got?
Chickens are a domesticated species, many instincts having been bred out of them. Mine leveled my garden twice before I put a fence up. They are too big to fly, but loved to jump and peck/knock down fruit from my trees pre-fencing.
Orchard, Milehigh is at least concerned about your problem and makes an important point. I wish others would simply ignore incomplete as I feel he has exhausted any possible use he has to you and it seems his sole purpose is to make anyone with any common sense feel very pleased with themselves. Every answer to him is just fuel for his idealogical fire which is consuming all the oxygen on this thread. He's like someone trying to teach ballet because he's read something about it and knows much more than any dancer how its done.
Anyway, too much fresh manure can burn the roots of trees- especially chicken with its high nitrogen content, although it would take a lot of it to accomplish this when spread on top of the soil.
Fresh manure can be used as fertilizer but must be carefully applied and manure is much safer to use composted as MH suggested. It is most dangerous in soil with poor drainage. If by cart you mean a large garden cart it could certainly be a problem- especially if applied immediately before or when trees are in leaf.
The reason I have suggested trying to get help from your extension was simply to get a specific diagnosis of any diseases but that doesn't mean you can't find the key to your problem here. If you feel incomplete is helping you please say so, and I will withdraw and allow you to have a dialogue with him without interruption.
Otherwise, we should discuss the texture of your soil and if it drains quickly after heavy rain. This would be the starting point although we've already jumped to amendments and you should let us know how large is your cart, what percentage was chicken manure and when it was applied.
OT - you seem to have a number of trees. Are any of the others showing the same symptoms as that plum in the photo? Whatever is afflicting it doesn't seem to be the same as the problem with the cherries.
How old is the plum tree? Did it get more of that fresh chicken manure than other trees?
What about your peaches? Aside from one or two mummies, is there a problem with those trees, too?
Im going to have to step in here for a sec...
To the Original Poster:
The odds are it was temp stress/ water stress. Stress can lead to an inumberable amount of diseases and problems with a plant. Give some of the bark of some twigs a light scrape, if you see green, its alive, if you see white or brown, its dead. You can do this all the way down the branches. Use small, thing scrapes with your finger nail. You can also leave them and hope for the best next year.
THe bottom line is: ITs a wild goose chase at this point. And it sucks, but you have to wait and see. Keep watering liek normal, and hope for the best.
In regards to the whole "one straw revolution" thing:
I have been studying sustainable gardening for 3 or 4 years, and practicing it for 2. There are no sparay gardens in the pacific north west, japan, the austian mountains, and sub tropical/tropical australia. These places are humid at one point in time during the year, if not all year.
Fukua is a Pioneer, a very smart person, who went agaist the grain, to learn some old/new methods of growing. The methods worked for him, because his methods were tailored to be perfectly in aline with his climate - proper plants being the major key here. He faile dmany times, and learned what plants do better in his situation.
The same goes with Sepp Holtzer in austria. He ignored half of Fokuas knoledge, and half of Bill Molisons knowledge in permaculture. He took the basics, and tailored them to his area. They do not however, say that doing it exactly their way, in, for instance, Alabama, would work. Different ecosystems, different climate, diferent elevation... completely different situations. You can use Fokuas Philisophy (which is by far his best knowledge) and use it to learn how to do it in your area, but by no means IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE USED AS A UNIVERSAL COPY PASTE TECHNIQUE FOR GARDENING ACCROSS THE GLOBE.
IT takes years to associate plants in your area. ITs harder to bring in non native plants as well. Sure, bringing in asian plums and euro plums can be done ok, there are american plums that you can subsitute for a forest garden. But bringing in peaches and pears, plants that arent native here at all, will bring in problems (as a few people have mentioned).
In regards to no spray, the last few decades of plant breeds probably wont to you any good, especially say, apples or pears in a humid/high rainfall climate. Youre better off growing apples that are used to no chemicals (old breeds, or new ones that have high resistances).
I planted a TOka plum, John pear, and Honeygold apple last and this year. THis spring was WET and mild, ive never seen anything like it here. Most trees had problems in spring, but the pear and apple got bacterial or fungal infection. No matter what kind of tree it is, or breed, if you have a wet spring, the odds are they are going to be sick. THe real, main philosophy of "no spray" or self sustainable gadens, is to make sure the plants are happy enough to withstand the sickness, and grow dispite this problem.
The other goal, is to spread out the trees so you limit the spread of infection. Using soil and fertilizer that is available in your yard helps too, because you know exactly what is in it, and if was properly cured.
Reading and wanting to spread the word of sustainable agriculture/permaculture is awesome, but reading ONE book, with out actually practicing, and taking about information out of tha tone book is asinine. You wont teach anyone anything, and you are only hurting yourself in the process, as well as the likelyhood people will want to try these "new" forms of horticulture.
I hope this clears this whole situation up a bit...
Ok everyone this poor women just wants to save her trees. She has asked a simple question, lets try and focus on the problem at hand. Orchard Tree -perhaps you could provid a little more info. Disregard all the hulabalou and give us the facts. How much watering/ times and length? How much fert around the trees? Are they close together? Size of trunk? How old? Planted at the same time? Have you sprayed them or anything around them? Try and think of anything and everything that would help us to help you. Harvestman has helped me in the past with dry apples and he is pretty good. To everyone, lets try and stick to the questions/answers she provides us, if we have not chased her off. Orchard Tree -I will apologize up front for any confusion some may have caused you. Now lets get busy guys and figure this out! Come On!
Also, orchardtree photographs of the site would be helpful including of the ground and several of the trees together and entire trees alone. Is the soil easy or hard to dig?
Thank you so much. I moved to my 32 acre farm 3-4 years ago. I did not know anything about trees really. My family and I planted them all at the same time. But then we made the terrible mistake of getting goats. The goats ruined some trees completely and stripped the bark of some. So we got some more trees and replanted, then it happened again the next year, because the goats managed to escape from their field. Right now they are cooped up pretty well though. The peach tree with the mummified fruits had some bark eaten off around it's trunk. As for the manure... We put layers and layers around the trees. The manure wasn't composted. We just collected it from the barn and the ground. Most of it was pretty fresh. Last year and the years before that, my cherry trees were doing fine, and they did have some ripe cherries on them. This year I noticed that they suddenly got those black spots, and after I sprayed them with the fungicide I made, the tips of the leaves blackened. I have a question. When do peach trees start losing their leaves? Is it normal for the leaves to be turning orange and falling off right now?
I will take some pictures, of my trees and post them a little bit.
Goats and fruit trees just don't mix.
Cow manure is not very strong, it's more the chicken that concerns me with about 3X the nitrogen. You still didn't say when you applied it. If trees were dormant it shouldn't be the problem unless you suffocated the roots with it by piling on and it was soggy stuff.
Partially girdled trees often recover but fatally girdled trees will sometimes linger with unhealthy foliage and no new growth.
I do believe all manure should be well composted before use. However, I also believe the most damage from non composted manure is when its in direct contact with the roots, as in adding non composted manure to the planting hole before putting the tree in? Harvestman makes a good point as well. It shouldnt be more then 2 or 3 inches thick, not placed on the trunk (leave 4 or 5 inches between the manure and trunk), and should be spread out a foot away from the trees drip line. I would also suggest some sort of mulch, so that the ground will retain more water (especially if those droughts you guys have been having continue!)
Like others have suggested, take some pics, and I again , suggest making very small scratches with your thumb nail to see if the inner bark is green (which means its alive at least). Its the easiest way to see if the tree is alive, yeah maybe not diagnose, but again, if the tree is dead, there isnt anything you can do. IF the inner bark in the branches is green, the odds are its alive, and may be worth saving...
Not all manures must be composted. Rabbit manure for example is fine to use fresh.
If you want to give your plants a quick shot of nitrogen, any fresh manure can be used, it's just a question of how much. The exception would be when manure comes in contact with what is eaten.
Fresh manure can create a quicker growth response than composted manure.
How much land do you own, so you can replant?
I stand corrected Bamboo_rabbit. :D thanks
Rabbits, horses and cows don't eat mice :P.
@Orchard: piling up manure around the trees for several years is a sure way to overload on nitrogen. Manure should generally be spread over an area similar to the area the animals graze in. You'll have to plant something that likes nitrogen for several seasons under the trees to drain it down to normal levels. Whatever you plant will probably have pest and disease problems in that soil until enough N has leached out.
The goats definitely didn't help either. They may still need pruning, as well, but I can't really tell without pictures :).
I'm sorry for taking a while to post the pictures. A lot of things just suddenly came up. I'll have them up soon.
Here are more pictures of my cherry trees.
Here is another picture.
another cherry tree picture.
One more cherry tree picture.
This is the trunk of the peach tree with the mummified fruit.
another peach tree picture
Orchard_tree Grass is winning over your trees.
Herbicides : Post chemical right around tree off from tree roundup.
It easier mix Herbicides than pull grass out.
Don't use Post chemical after year ends no Post in 2013.
I'm surprised, some of your trees look like beautiful examples of what those trees should look like. You may be better off cutting down the (badly) bark-eaten trees, that's some bad damage and the trees are just likely to keep getting sick until they die anyway.
The cherry tree in the fourth pic you posted today is a perfect (although leafless) example. Cherries do tend to grow kind of wild tangles of branches, although it doesn't seem to affect them too much. For some of the older cherries you might pull (via a rope tied to a brick or something) some of the branches that are cramming together on the middle-aged trees more towards the ground, and maybe cut a few that are hopelessly jutting out into the middle of the tree. The cherry with the big munches taken out of the leaves looks pretty tangled.
The right side of the last peach picture shows quite well what a peach tree should look like. Both cherries and peaches I've heard don't hold the weight of their fruit very well unless you prune the branches back to strengthen them. Examples below. I'd lay off the compost for the next decade, but they seem alright for the most part.
Apparently if you make a 'bone sauce' (bones cooked at high temp over a small amount of water) and paint it on your tree bark, the goats will not touch it anymore (possibly ever again). If the sauce doesn't come out utterly nasty, then you probably did it wrong :).
Here is a link that might be useful: bone sauce and other stuff.
Branch strengthening example, note you want to cut around 1/3 of each branch, cutting back to a good twig that's sticking out in the right direction for the tree shape. Only make about one cut per year, early in the growing season. Note that the cut furthest on the inside of the tree in this example should be cut first, and that little branch-let should be cut completely since it tangles.
This is that awesome cherry example I was talking about. I would barely cut anything on this. I highlighted one branch that tangles a little that you might trim off, but besides that the only reason to cut is to strengthen branches.
One last thing, I thought of this earlier but had to look back over your pics to be sure. That peach tree I used as an example is probably only growing into half a peach tree due to wind exposure. The trees you planted which are nearby other trees, fences etc seem to look much happier. If you should replant some of them, make sure they have good wind cover.
It is very difficult for establishing fruit trees to compete with tall weeds- 3 options- frequent cultivation, mulch or herbicide. Keep at least a 4' diameter circle free of grass and weeds at least from early spring into July.
Cherries often defoliate early, sometimes because of bacterial leaf spot. Early copper application recommended.
This winter try using a oil spray for dorment trees. I use Volck by ortho at lest 3x during winter. It will help with pest etc. I agree w/harvestman get rid of the weeds and grass. Also you need to put a furow around each tree(clean of grass) out to the drip line or a little beyond. If you need to fert or give extra water it will hold it. The flat depression s/b about 3+" deep. use the extra dirt to build a mound around to hold the water etc. This will at best keep the weed/grass from under the trees. You trees don't look bad they just need a little love. They will soon lose all their leaves and go dorment and you can start fresh. Next year when they start to leaf keep an eye on them. Look for aphids or little critters or holes in the leaves or bacterial spots and get right on it. Hope this helps. YOU have a beautiful place!
Campy, in VA oil is the optional spray and is only helpful against mites and scale. We have many more dragons to slay before receiving our reward than you folks out west.
Not sure I'd do much pruning on these trees until next year, when you can see what's alive in the spring. That peach tree seems to have lost half its diameter of bark.
I wouldnt use pesticides, given the trees are stressed enough, the roots dont need more problems.
I suggest sheet mulching. It does more then one thing you may need:
- It eliminates weeds from around the trees roots, reducing negative competition
- Its keeps the soil cool, lessening water needs (which may have helped this year down there!)
- It builds fertility over time.
- Will allow certain cover crops, which will enable possitive root competition, while slowly creating good soil, and eliminating grass and most weeds in the long run.
THe tree that got "gnawed" on by goats looks like a gonner to me. I hope someone has a better outlook for it:( The one that has a lot of leaves looks ok to me, just stressed for what ever reason (broad, I know. The odds are its from a weird growing season IMO). THe other ones.... again, I suggest a light scrape on some twigs and branches to see if there is some green.
Oh Thank You!! Everyone has been so helpful.