Monday, May 28, 2012

A fighting chance for this old Crab Apple

We recently had a really good question on Facebook from our Customer Chris concerning his large Crab Apple tree.  He has graciously allowed us to repost important parts of the conversation and photos for all to learn from.

"I have a HUGE crabapple tree (about 25' tall and about 30-35 wide) that is beautiful when it blooms in the spring and is perfect shade tree for the patio that it grows over. Unfortunately, every year around this time the leaves begin to develop brown spots, start to yellow, and fall off (the foliage is very dense until this point). I have tried spraying it with neem oil per one of your employee's recommendation, but that to no avail.

I recently tried introducing ladybugs to it that I bought from you, thinking it might be spider aphids, so hopefully that will help somewhat.

At this rate, 80% of the leaves will be gone by late August. Of note, around this time of year, it develops a growth that comes out of a hole where a limb was cut off a very long time ago (see picture included).

It looks and feels like fungus of some sort and drips sap out the bottom of the hole. I have also noticed when pruning some branches that were about one inch thick, that there was a redish/dark brown ring about 1/8 of an inch below the surface. This series of events started abruptly one summer about 4 years ago.

I love this tree and would hate to see it die, but I understand crabapple trees can be finicky (especially when they are 20+ years old). If I could keep it the way it looks for the first few months during the spring I'd be a happy camper. Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all your help with my garden this year, the rest of it looks great!"

He attached some photos:

The folks in the nursery think that this is a systemic (whole tree) fungal infection.  Generally the only way to take care of this is to use a whole-tree systemic spray as well as fertilize the tree to give it a fighting chance.    To be on the safe side though, we recommended Chris contact Joel Koci, an Arborist with Arborcare in Rockville, VA.

Chris is going to keep us posted on the happenings of this awesome Crab Apple and we are rooting for a win! (pun intended) 

If you have specific questions, please do shoot us a message on Facebook or email and we will gladly help.  Detailed photo's like Chris' are a plus for both the assessment and as an example for other gardeners in and around Richmond.