Cedar Apple Rust
I am having difficulty with my fruit trees. Last year my peach tree produced lots of peaches, but they all dried up around the seed before they ripened. I also noticed that quite a few of the leaves and small branches dried up and died. My apple tree made really good apples but the leaves dried up and died and I noticed yellow spots on the leaves that had several round dots in them. I assumed these to be some kind of insect eggs. The apples also had dark spots on them. I have already cut them back and am hoping that you can suggest some kind of spray, preferably something natural that I can use to solve these problems
Fruit trees can be challenging for the home gardener, especially peaches which have numerous insect and disease issues. Brown rot is the most destructive and can wipe out a crop seemingly overnight, especially when we have periods of rain, which were almost constant last year. Pruning is something you will need to do annually, but a spray schedule is also necessary to produce quality fruit. Purchase a home fruit spray which has both an insecticide and a fungicide mixed together. There are organic products as well as non-organic. Start spraying when two thirds of the flower petals have fallen and then continue throughout the growing season, about every 10 days to three weeks depending on the weather. Your apple tree sounds like it was infested with cedar apple rust. This disease has two hosts--Eastern red cedars and apple trees. By the time you see yellow spots rimmed in orange it is too late to spray to control it. The key is to do preventative sprays the first few weeks following bloom. Orange gelatinous masses form on cedar trees releasing spores which then infest the apples. Typically apple diseases are a bit easier to deal with since you can usually peel off the damage and still eat the fruit. Spray schedules, cultural information and pruning guides are available on our Extension website at: http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/
I live in northwest Arkansas and we have some small cedar trees at the edge of our lawn that has some orange (fungus?) looking things growing out of grey nuts? They look like a bunch of tentacles and are mushy. Are these harmful to the cedars?
What you are seeing with the bright orange tentacles is the fruiting body of cedar/apple rust on your cedar tree. This disease has two hosts--Eastern Red Cedar and apples/crabapples. The disease first starts on the cedar. During periods of rain in the spring the galls quickly grow orange, gelatinous tentacles that produce spores which then blow to the developing fruit and leaves on nearby apple and crabapples trees. Symptoms will appear on apple foliage as small round orange spots which then yellow. Heavy infestations can cause the apple trees to shed foliage and deform the fruit lightly, but the disease is not deadly to either plant. If you desire clean fruit, fruit sprays are needed in early spring. They are only effective during the time the spores are active in early spring, and once you see symptoms, sprays are no longer effective. If you don’t grow apple trees, you can ignore them or simply enjoy their odd appearance. Here is a link to a fact sheet for more information: http://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-7538.pdf
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