How to Identify Fruit Tree Disease


Fruit tree diseases can be debilitating. Not only do many tree diseases affect the foliage of the tree, making it aesthetically unappealing, but fruit tree diseases can lead to a limited harvest. Leaves might fall off of the tree and, when conditions are extreme, the tree could die. Worst of all, fungal diseases can travel from tree to tree on the wind, causing widespread infestation in your orchard or small fruit garden. Properly identifying disease can be difficult, but it is necessary for proper treatment.

Step 1

Determine the tree variety you have and what kind of fruit is produced. Some diseases only attach to certain tree varieties.

Step 2

Navigate to your local university extension website for information on common diseases for your fruit tree.

Step 3

Look for symptoms on other trees to determine whether it is a spreading pathogen, suggests West Virginia University Extension. Look for trees in surrounding yards or orchards that might act as a host.

Step 4

Look for leaf or blossom wilting or discoloration and compare it to a field guide, recommends Cornell University. Look for obvious leaf spots, lesions on leaves, cankers or galls on the bark of the tree, shoot or fruit lesion or bruising.

Step 5

Look at roots for damage or a mushy appearance by lightly digging around the tree.

Step 6

Lightly peel away at a lower portion of bark to see if fungus grows underneath. Inspect the wood for a slimy appearance.

Step 7

Look for the presence of bugs in the tree, which may cause the disease. Compare and continue following the diagnostic flow chart until you can narrow down the characteristics of a specific disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife Plastic bag Field guide


  • Cornell University: Diagnostic Keys to Tree Fruit Diseases
  • West Virginia University: Diagnostic Keys to Major Tree Fruit Diseases in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University: Tree Fruit and Small Fruit Disease Factsheets
Keywords: Identify fruit disease, Fruit tree disease, Tree diagnostic chart

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.