What’s wrong with our apple tree?

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  • 5th May 2021 at 8:54 pm #550094

    Last year our little apple tree had bad rust, I followed the advice on gardening links and removed every leaf and sprayed it with the natural mix recommended (can’t remember the name of it) I think it confused the tree as it then came out in blossom! At the moment it looks dead, with no sign of leaves. It isn’t dead, the wood is still green when I scratch the bark with my fingernail.

    Have any of the expert gardeners among us any ideas of what its problem is?


    5th May 2021 at 10:31 pm #550104

    The spray was a dormant oil if I remember correctly, FC.
    The first question to ask is did your tree produce leaf buds which haven’t opened?
    The second question is did you spray a second time with the dormant oil at the end of winter or early spring?

    5th May 2021 at 11:19 pm #550105

    Yes that was the name Danny. No there have been no buds at all so, no again, I haven’t sprayed as I’ve been watching for a sign of buds go do so. Thank you.

    6th May 2021 at 4:28 pm #550150

    There are two possibilities that immediately come to mind, Fruity, assuming that there are no other trees or shrubs nearby that have failed to produce leaves. The first is that the severe rust attack that your tree suffered last year has triggered a stress response. This response is a kind of total lockdown and it’s impossible to say how long it will last. You could have buds that burst into life later in May, or the tree could remain in this dormant state until next year. A year without producing leaves is not exactly ideal,  but a tree can go two or three years without producing leaves before the situation becomes life threatening. In your case though, as it’s a young tree which suffered last year, I would be concerned if it doesn’t burst into life sometime soon.

    The second possibility is a fungal disease called verticillium wilt. If you cut through the bark and into the wood of a branch, you should be able to see dark streaks if you have this disease, or dark rings if you cut right through a twiggy branch with a pair of secateurs.

    In either case there’s not really anything you can do i’m afraid, other than keep your fingers crossed and be patient. Don’t be tempted to feed or prune the tree.

    Remind me, how long ago did you plant your apple tree?


    6th May 2021 at 8:47 pm #550155

    Thank you Danny. I shall keep my fingers crossed that it’s the first of your options and that it will burst forth with some leaves soon. I’ll wait a while before cutting into a twig, in the hope that I won’t need to.

    I did give it a weak feed of comfrey, it was very weak so I hope that hasn’t added to the poor thing’s dilemma!

    We planted it three years ago (I only know that because it was part of an 80th birthday present for Mr F from our daughters – another reason why I hope it recovers)

    7th May 2021 at 11:46 am #550204

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed too. I would be more optimistic if the tree was a little older, but as long you continue to see green under the bark you have hope.
    Let me know how things pan out and don’t worry about the comfrey, it won’t have made matters worse.

    8th May 2021 at 5:56 pm #550294

    Thanks, Danny, I talked to it this morning and asked it to please burst forth! We think there is a bud – or it might be wishful thinking!!

    16th May 2021 at 8:30 pm #550916

    Still no signs of life on the apple tree, still green under the bark though, we live in hope!

    17th May 2021 at 11:11 am #550943

    Did the leaves have holes in them that look like shotgun pellets have been fired at them and is/was there any sticky resin coming from the bark?If so it may be bacterial canker

    Also are you sure it was rust? Could it have been leaf curl especially if it is a young tree I planted some young apple trees and a couple got peach leaf curl and died but the old breton varieties I planted have gone from strength to strength

    17th May 2021 at 1:51 pm #550959

    Thank you for your ideas OC, no is the answer to your first two questions, no holes, no sticky resin. I’m pretty sure it was rust, there was no curl on the leaf, just rust patches. It looked very healthy after I had removed and destroyed all the leaves and sprayed it with the dormant oil mixture, as I said in the OP it even produced a bunch of blossoms (at totally the wrong time of the year)

    19th May 2021 at 10:02 am #551120

    You should ask this guy, he knows a lot about apple trees:




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