Monday, May 18, 2015

Cedar Apple Rust

Several years ago, six to be exact, we planted our mini orchard in the front yard.  With the exception of the Golden Delicious apples and pear trees, we bought semi-dwarf fruit trees with the intent that we would prune them to keep them small and manageable.

Besides the Golden Delicious, we have Fuji, Gala, Arkansas Black, Honeycrisp and some now-forgotten variety, as well as another what-was-it variety that died.  Last year was the first time we harvested apples, all from the Arkansas Black trees.  Not much to crow about, but it was the first twenty or so apples we grew ourselves.  It seems that the Arkansas Blacks may be the ONLY type of apple that we can get to grow around here.  Why?  Because of these stupid things:
Cedar Apple Rust overwintering gall.
The rains come & it turns into this creepy
looking mass of gelatinous tendrils.
Cedar tree "decorated" with the Cedar Apple
Rust globs.  The trees have since been cut down
and burned, but the damage is already done.
I've read somewhere that you can protect your apple trees from Cedar Apple Rust by eliminating all cedars within a mile radius of your apple orchard.  Although we've been slowly removing trees around the property, there's really no way to rid our 30 acres of forest of all the cedars, let alone a mile radius of them.  So yeah.  We're pretty much stuck with spraying them with a fungicide.  And apparently we didn't do it early enough this year to do any good, because here is what most of the leaves on my apple trees look like:

And soon, they will die and fall off.  Oh, there will be some replacement leaves growing back (which will probably also be infected), but there is no way that the tree can support itself with no leaves, let alone put on fruit.

The Arkansas Black trees seem to be resistant to the Cedar Apple Rust.  Good thing too, otherwise we wouldn't have a single apple in our 10-apple-tree orchard.
Arkansas Black apples from the Fall of 2014.
No Cedar Apple Rust on any of the fruit or leaves.
I hate to have to rely on a chemical spray to deter this type of fungus on the apple trees, so I think the best thing we can do is eventually cull the others and replace them with resistant varieties of apples.  It seems a shame, but there's nothing really sustainable about having to spray your fruit trees with fungicide several times a year.


  1. So sorry about your trees. I agree--I don't see the point of growing your own if it's going to be a toxic mess like grocery store apples.
    We have roughly 10 apple trees that were here when we moved in and they are OLD---and not one of them is ever sprayed, yet they are not bothered by disease or , for the most part, pests. Oh, a few may get nibbled on by the occasional bug, but hubby and I would rather cut out the bad parts than eat gawd knows what in chemicals.
    I guess the thing to do would be to seek out old varieties that are resistant to whatever is a common threat in your area.
    I only wish I knew the names of what I had---I have one that makes the most heavenly applesauce, a couple for fresh eating and a couple that are probably for cooking.
    Good luck!

  2. Sorry to hear about your trees. We can't grow apples at all here in the south, at least not enough for me to spend copious amounts of time caring for them. Guess we just have to travel north in the fall to get some. At least we have an over abundance of peaches that seem to handle the heat well enough.

  3. That's so disappointing! We have plenty of apples but some kind of fungus gets our peaches every single year. Erg!

  4. Enterprise & Empire are varieties that are supposed to be resistant to cedar Apple rust. Stark Brothers online carries both.

  5. Very sad to see your trees are affected. We are still waiting for a first harvest on our trees.

  6. Carolyn,

    It's a shame you invested all kinds of money on your apple tree's, to find out the good old cedar tree's have an affect on the apple tree's.

  7. I am both horrified and strangley compelled by Cedar Tree Rust globs. I can squeeze bugs, but that stuff would send me squeeing in horror in the opposite direction! I haven't had much luck with my apple trees, but I think it's more due to needing more of my attention than they have been getting.

  8. Since my daughter has the same issue where she lives, only with useless scrub cedar, which is how I knew the varieties I named, I have been cogitating the issue...aren't cedar posts supposed to be more rot resistant than other wood? If you were to take out the cedars on your property to use as fence posts, over time you might be able to solve 2 problems at once. Just a thought.