Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Apple canker

Canker on Golden Delicious, courtesy of Alan Biggs/

Canker on Golden Delicious, courtesy of Alan Biggs/

This a serious disease which needs to be identified, and, if present, it has to be eliminated from young trees. The roots of the trees are not affected. Canker is a fungal infection, and and it used to be treated with copper-based sprays. These have been withdrawn from the market, under EU regulations. Therefore the only means to eradicate this fungus is to cut out all diseased wood. It must be removed from the orchard and burned. Spores continue to be released from wood on the orchard floor, particularly during the dormant period of the fruit trees. That’s why as a matter of urgency, all cankers on the tree trunks, whether large or small infections, have to be exposed, by removing the tree guards, and then cut out. The wound should be painted with “heal and seal,” with at least a 1-inch overlap, right around the trunk if necessary. This method of control has to be completed by no later than the end of October. A second check of the treated wounds should be carried by the end of March, before the trees get into leaf.

If you find a lot of canker infection, it may be necessary to adjust the nutritional programme of the trees. Nitrogen and high humidity make the ideal conditions for rapid growth of the canker fungus. Therefore, if your trees are suffering from canker, it is wrong to apply any nitrogen from September to the end of February. If nitrogen has to be applied, it is best to do it during the first week of March.

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