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11 Cherry Tree Diseases and How to Treat Them

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Cherries are delicious, versatile fruits that brighten up each spring through color after the trees liven up our garden with light pink flowers. Unfortunately, the beautiful, shadow-providing cherry trees are quite vulnerable to several diseases. Check out the following sections to find out more about the most common cherry tree diseases and how to treat them to protect your orchard.

1. Crown Rot (Phytophthora)

One of the most common and worst diseases to look for is the crown rot. This disease is caused by a bacterium known as the phytophthora. There are numerous symptoms associated with crown rot, including stunted growth, fragility, and small fruits. The tree can die within several months or even weeks.

The pathogen thrives in a moist environment, and you can notice the infection by examining the roots and the trunk. Crown rot leads to rot or decay, looking dark brown and having a specific foul smell. Once you notice the infection, you cannot cure the cherry tree. To prevent it, avoid overwatering and using fungicides to prevent the infection from spreading to other trees.

2. Black Knot

Cherry trees can also be affected by a black knot, although some varieties are resistant, such as the Prunus maackii, East Asian cherry, or the North Japanese hill cherry. You can identify the disease due to the hard swellings appearing on the tree. If you do not treat the disease, these black knots get larger, wilting branches and even killing your tree.

To treat this disease, you need to prune 4 inches away from the knot. Sterilize the pruning equipment to avoid contamination of other healthy trees. If the cherry tree has a severe infection, you need to remove it from your orchard. Unfortunately, fungicide treatments are not effective.

3. Crown Gall

Crown gall looks like tumors growing on the tree. These structures appear on any tree part, ranging from the root to the trunk and even leaves. This disease is severe and may even result in the death of your tree. The tumors can be very difficult to eliminate, and it’s best to call a professional if this is the case. To avoid this disease, make sure you plant your cherry trees in nutritious, healthy soil. The disease usually appears in temperatures above 50F.

4. Cytospora Canker

This disease affects both sour and sweet cherries. You will notice cankers in a dark color that lead to wilting branches. This disease appears in humid, warm conditions and might even be caused by sunburn or pathogen-bearing insects. There is no chemical solution for these cankers. Make sure you prune the infected trees in the growing season. Fortunately, the disease affects only damaged, unhealthy bark, so make sure your trees are not wounded.

5. Necrotic Ringspot

Necrotic ringspot affects sweet and sour cherry trees. The common symptoms include yellowing leaves, leaving holes behind. The affected leaves fall to the ground in early summer, so the fruits may not be healthy or develop much later. The disease spreads quicker in sour cherries. The only way of saving your orchard is to remove the affected trees to stop the spread of the infection.

6. Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a very common disease among fruit-bearing trees, so it makes it very dangerous since it can quickly spread to your entire orchard and it is difficult to eliminate. You can identify it due to the specific powder-like mildew growing on leaves or fruits. One of the main causes of powdery mildew is overwatering, so make sure you keep irrigation low, especially in spring, when fruits are still young. If you already have infected leaves, make sure you prune them.

7. Cherry Leaf Spot

All trees from the cherry family are vulnerable to leaf spot disease. This affects the leaves, creating brown spots that can cover the entire leaf in an advanced stage, causing its death. Severe cases lead to the end of the tree eventually. The only treatment is to remove the affected leaves to prevent the disease from spreading. Make sure you burn all the leaves to eliminate spores.

8. X-Disease

The X-disease affects the fruits and is spread by insects. You can recognize it due to the slow growth of the fruit, but it’s a severe disease that can cause the death of leaves and branches. On the good side, it takes years to affect the tree to such an extent. Spread by leafhoppers, the X-disease can be eliminated by pruning the infected leaves and branches. If it is advanced, all you can do is remove the affected tree to prevent contamination.

9. Silver Leaf

Silver leaf is a fungal disease that affects many fruit trees, including cherries, apricots, and plums, among others. The silver hues on the leaves turn brown as the affected leaves die. The silver-covered leaf is dark on the underside, while an advanced stage leads to small tumors on the branches or the trunk. This disease slowly kills the tree over several years.

To get rid of the disease, make sure you remove the affected tree parts. Prune all the visible signs in colder temperatures (under 32F) to make sure the disease does not return the next year. To avoid exposing the pruned tree to other diseases, you should only prune it in dry conditions.

10. Bacterial Canker

Bacterial canker affects numerous fruit trees. The disease attacks the tree branches, weakening and wilting them until the complete death of the tree. It can also infect leaves, leaving large holes in them. Trees affected by this disease are often weakened by drought or a lack of proper nutrients. Make sure you address these causes to stop the disease. You may also prune the affected areas.

11. Brown Rot

Mostly infecting leaves and fruits, brown rot is another common disease of cherry trees. It often commences when the tree is flowering, causing the browning of fruits and leaves. The brown rot can compromise the entire harvest. There is no treatment for a tree infected with brown rot. If the leaves or branches start to become brown, you can prune and burn them.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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