Apricot trees are tall and graceful, and once they are done blooming and fruiting, they make great shade trees for the summer and fall. They are relatively easy to grow, but these trees are susceptible to some diseases that you must keep an eye out for. In most cases, preventative measures will help you avoid the problem entirely, but being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of apricot tree disease will help you customize a treatment plan to get your tree healthy once more.
Apricot tree disease is nearly always caused by a fungal infection. However, there are many different types of fungi that can cause problems for you and your fruit tree. Cornyeum blight, also called "shot-hole" disease, creates problems for apricot trees, as does another form of infection called a bacterial canker. Amilaria root rot also impacts a number of apricot trees throughout the growing season.
Different types of apricot tree diseases cause different symptoms. You may notice small brown specks on the fruit around harvest time, or cankers on buds and twigs. You might even see a brown, gummy substance that looks like sap oozing from the side of the tree. Flowers and young shoots may also turn brown or black as if they had been scorched, and sometimes the tree may appear to have simply dried up, even if it has gotten plenty of water.
Diagnosing the Problem
The symptoms of your apricot tree disease will usually point to the source of the problem. If the tree has been getting plenty of water and trees around it do not appear to be suffering from drought, yet the tree is withered, then you likely are dealing with amilaria root rot. Spots on the fruit and oozing, gummy liquids indicate shot-hole disease. The good news is that while the fruit is not as pretty, it is still tasty and edible. Finally, blackened flowers and shoots indicate a bacterial canker infection, even if no cankers are visible on the tree. You can verify this diagnosis by checking the state of the inner bark, which will be brown, mushy and smell sour.
Treating the Infection
Sadly, if your apricot tree has amilaria root rot, then it is going to die. The best thing you can do is to remove the infected tree so that other trees do not develop the problem, and change your watering habits to prevent a similar situation with other trees. Shot-hole disease should not be treated if it has already appeared on the fruits. Wait until the fruit drops, then apply a fungicide. Apply the same fungicide in the spring just after the flower petals drop off the tree. You may need to do this for several growing seasons to eliminate the problem. Give your tree plenty of nitrogen-rich fertilizer to get rid of bacterial cankers. The nitrogen will make the tree hardy enough to fight off the infection on its own.
The best way to enjoy your apricot tree and to get the best harvests is to keep it healthy from the very beginning. Water your tree in the mornings so that it does not end up with mushy, moist soil and leaves in the afternoon. Also, make sure that the soil drains well to prevent root rot. If you have not yet planted and you know the area used to host apricot, apple or cherry trees, then you need to fumigate the soil because cankers may be lurking, waiting to attack.
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