Tree Leaf Study – Possible Pests & Diseases

With some very helpful advice from Nathan Packwood of Orchard Tree Care (www.orchardtreecare.co.uk) I am now on a plan of studying each tree for possible problems. It’s time to get organised with these fruit sticks, and I am only just now realising how much there is to learn, rectify, and mess up. This is a mess of photographs showing possible problems, and hopefully I can get some advice on what to do if I come across a tree with this problem. As anyone reading this no doubt knows, we grow our veg with no chemicals, following a strict 5 year rotation and trying all ways to prevent problems – both of the animal kind (you know who you are, pigeons, rats, mice, voles, spugs, slugs, sawfly etc) and the microbial kind.

However, trees are proving to be very different, in that you can’t very easily rotate a tree-crop. We’re doing our best, keeping the ground around them grass free, grazing a few chickens under (though we are currently under-stocked until the light sussex pull their feathery fingers out and get broody). It seems, through not cleaning my pruning shears, I may have inadvertently spread Bacterial Canker from one cherry tree to others. The original felon has been dug up and thrown in the brown bin, the rest are now on the radar for pruning. Dead wood needs to be pruned off, down to the first healthy tissue, once the blossom has dropped. For some this is drastic, others might escape with a less-drastic hair cut. Nathan recommended a scale of 0-5 for the severity of any diseased tree, where 0 is a healthy tree full of vim and vigour, and 5 is, well, an ex-tree. The remaining trees are mostly ones and twos apparently – with my pesimistic goggles on I was envisaging pyres a mile high, burning all and sundry. Still, I need to be realistic – we all suffer from stuff, and any tree that does not like the location to the extent it commits hari kari is was possibly the wrong tree for that location. Of course, that’s not totally fair if it’s the fault of the numpty who didn’t clean his pruning shears, but then life isn’t fair, and said numpty has to live with the fact he wasted a few years of his life waiting for that tree to finally succumb to his numptiness.

On with the show – the following photographs are in the semi-random order I walked the orchard. They are grouped by tree type (apple, pear, cherry and plum) to some extent, though I walked both bush (little) and half-standard (big) orchards separately, so there are possibly two groupings of each type. I am starting a spreadsheet, showing each tree and its details, including survey dates and findings, so I can keep track of any possible issues. I’ll add this to the website at some stage.