What's Wrong With Your Apricot Tree?

Is your apricot tree looking a little worse for wear? Perhaps its leaves are falling to the ground, or it's developing black cankers on its trunk. It's important to figure out what's wrong with your tree sooner rather than later, so that you can treat it and hopefully restore its health. Here's a look at three common diseases of apricots, and how to handle each one.

Cytospora Canker

This destructive fungal disease affects not only apricot trees, but also nectarines, peaches, plums and cherries. Symptoms include:

  • The accumulation of gummy excretions at one or more points long the tree's trunk
  • The formation of cankers, or ulcers, on the trunk and large branches of the tree

If your tree has cytospora canker, you should have a tree care expert prune out the affected areas. This can prevent the fungus from spreading to other parts of the tree. Usually, removing large cankers from the tree is effective in eradicating the disease, as long as the canker removal is conducted properly. Don't attempt this procedure by yourself -- leave it to the pros if you want your tree to live.

Brown Rot

Does the fruit itself seem to be most damaged by the disease? Perhaps it is turning brown and falling to the ground prematurely. This is the primary symptom of brown rot, a fungal infection of fruit trees that can also cause symptoms such as:

  • The death of young blossoms in the spring
  • Small cankers forming on the twigs
  • The appearance of brown spore masses on flowers and twigs

Once brown rot sets in, there is no way to save that season's fruit. However, you can increase your chances of a good crop next season by spraying your trees with fungicides and keeping fallen leaves and fruits off the ground. These fallen leaves and fruits may harbor the fungus, enabling the tree to be reinfected in the springtime.

Shot Hole Disease

If your apricot tree's leaves are developing round, reddish brown spots that eventually become holes, it probably has shot hole disease. Other symptoms include:

  • Death of buds in winter and early spring
  • Rough, "cork-like" fruit

To treat shot hole disease, begin by having the infected areas of the tree pruned away. Then, take measures to reduce the tree's moisture exposure. Avoid overhead watering, and water only at the roots. Also, spray the tree with fungicides to keep the disease from spreading.

A bout of disease can mean losing your whole apricot crop. Keep your trees healthy by having them sprayed with fungicides in the spring, before disease has a chance to set in. Be vigilant about raking up leaves and keeping weeds trimmed. Caring for fruit trees is time-consuming, but when you harvest juicy fruit, it's well worth it. Talk to experts like A-1 Expert Tree Service for more information.