Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chemical Burn in Fruit Trees

Not all pests are classified as insects, fungi, bacteria, or virus. Sometimes poor cultural practices will cause fruit trees to suffer from disease. Remember, a disease is anything that interrupts an organism's normal functions. Take this for example.

Black Twisted Branch Tips are Evidence of Chemical Burn
These branch tips have been affected by chemical burn from an herbicide like 2,4-D. 2,4-D is a common herbicide used in large areas to kill weeds. 2,4-D does not know the difference between weeds and trees. If used in an orchard on a windy day it will cause the new, young growth to twist, curl and die. Using spray equipment that allows this product to atomize and mist into the air will also cause chemical burn in fruit trees. If you must use chemicals to control weeds in your orchard make sure you are doing so on a still day with equipment that will distribute the product in larger droplets so that your trees will not be affected by chemical burn.

An orchard with grass and weeds between the rows is not necessarily a bad thing. The vegetation will help to shade the soil and retain moisture. The vegetation will also prevent erosion from wind and rain. Yes, weeds will compete for the same nutrients in the soil, but not enough to starve or kill an established tree. If you are concerned about weeds and vegetation around your trees, try using organic weed barriers and mulch. These products will help prevent weeds and continue to feed your trees as they decompose. This mulch will also help the soil retain moisture and keep rain and wind from eroding the soil away.

If your fruit trees have been affected by chemical burn. Prune out any weak, dead, or dying branches. Once these have be pruned out of your fruit trees, make sure you are improving your cultural methods and avoiding future damage. Fruit trees can take a certain level of neglect and damage, but if left unchecked, these trees could become more susceptible to other disease that could kill your trees prematurely.

If you have any questions about the care and pruning of fruit trees, please email me at