The Q&A Archives: Dead Fruit Trees

Question: I had 4 fruit trees (around 3-4 years old) just up and die on me. The leaves came out this spring, some very slowly and after careful inspection of the trunk at ground level, I noticed the bark was decayed and dry rotted half way through... After I bent the trunk back, it just snapped off. I thought I heard a chewing noise, that of the likes of carpenter ants chewing through wood. Any ideas? I'm stumped on this one. One was a really nice Granny Smith and I wasn't too happy!

Answer: I'm sorry about your trees.

There are a number of possible causes for fruit trees to rot at the base; poor grafting, insect damage or mechanical damage (such as that caused by weed wackers or bark-eating critters) will all allow a point of entry for decay to begin. Insects will also attack the dead wood. Over time, this can certainly kill the trees. Extra stress, such as the drought we experienced last year, will hasten the process. Any one of these or a combination could have caused what you described. The best defense is to keep a watchful eye on your trees, protect them as best you can and take swift action to control any problems.

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