New York Growers’ Input Needed on Apple Tree Decline

Tree collapse due to Sudden Apple Decline (SAD): Death occurs within weeks of initial appearance of symptoms. (Photo: Kari Peter)

Cornell University researchers are seeking input from growers as they embark on an investigation into the chronic decline or rapid collapse of apple trees in young, high-density plantings.

“Symptoms of chronic decline can include poor growth, off-color foliage, and a generally ‘unthrifty’ appearance that worsens over several years,” writes Dan Donahue, Cornell Cooperative Extension Associate Tree Fruit Specialist and Tess Grasswitz, Cornell Cooperative Extension Integrated Pest Management Specialist.  “In contrast, the death of a previously healthy tree over the course of just a few weeks has been termed Sudden Apple Decline (SAD) or Rapid Apple Decline (RAD).”

Although some of the tree deaths are due to fire blight or crown/root rot, sometimes the cause is unclear.

“Over the last year, the decline and demise of apple trees in orchards up to the eighth leaf has become a hotly debated topic among producers, researchers, Extension specialists and industry consultants in several states across the Mid-Atlantic/New England regions, as well as parts of Canada,” Donahue and Grasswitz state.

Researchers have begun to compile a list of potential causes, including winter injury, herbicide injury, ambrosia beetles, dogwood borer, and latent viruses.

Tree collapse due to long-term (chronic) decline that occurs over a period of several years. (Photo: Dan Donahue)

“We cannot discount the possibility that the observed declines are due to interactions between multiple stressors, or that we are facing the possibility of a previously unrecognized problem,” they write.

Kari Peter of Penn State University has developed a comprehensive list of symptoms found in declining orchards. From this list, Extension professionals in Pennsylvania and New York have developed an online survey on apple tree decline in order to identify commonalities among affected blocks and to facilitate consistency in the collection of orchard data.

Growers who have apple blocks showing decline symptoms are encouraged to fill out the survey as the team seeks to identify potential causes and search for answers to the problem. In order to accurately complete the survey, it will be necessary to have the following information at hand: cultivar/rootstock combinations, site history (e.g. previous crops), and herbicides used. Apple decline may be due to the interaction between multiple factors. Accurate and detailed information is necessary to properly diagnose the problem.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “New York Growers’ Input Needed on Apple Tree Decline

  1. Gala Fuji honey crisp on m9 3-8 years old tress are dying at a high rate, lost over 2500 trees in this year alone .

    1. Hi Joseph. Where are you located? If you are in New York, please fill out the survey in the links above. If not, please reach out to your Extension educators who are trying to understand what is happening.

  2. Suspect a plethora of soil pathogens with no antagonists. We cannot expect to grow consistently healthy trees when adverse conditions (wet spring) strike.
    SOIL flora and fauna clearly affects diseases above ground as well – as observations here with anthracnose have shown a significant decrease (less than 1% where avg. W. Washington is 10%).
    Skipley Farm is on clay-loam, 300 apple varieties, all Bud-9 rootstock, 2000 trees.

Apples & Pears Stories
Apple Grower of the Year
August 22, 2017
U.S. Apple Association Hosts Annual Apple Outlook Conference in Chicago
American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazine’s 2017 Apple Grower of the Year will be officially presented on Thursday, Aug. 24, during the first day of the conference. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 20, 2017
APHIS Seeks Comments on Risk Removal for Dormant Apple Cuttings
Dormant live cuttings from countries in the European Union must currently go through pest risk assessment. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 15, 2017
Wet Weather Breeds Phytophthora in Young Apple Plantings
Crown rot, root rot flourishing in very wet growing season. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 9, 2017
2017 Washington Apple Crop Down Slightly
Forecasted harvest predicted to be 131 million boxes, down 1.2% from 2016. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 5, 2017
Penn State University Develops Bitter Pit Prediction Model
Research team unlocks relationship between bitter pit, minerals, and shoot lengths. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 1, 2017
New York Growers’ Input Needed on Apple Tree Decline
Project has begun to identify rapid collapse and chronic decline being found in young Eastern apple orchards. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 25, 2017
Tips to Transition to an Apple Fruiting Wall System
Follow these suggestions to make the move from a 3-D spindle-shaped canopy to a 2-D system using mechanical pruning. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 30, 2017
Tackling the Challenges of Organic Apple Production Head-on
Researchers at Michigan State University test organic controls for fire blight. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 29, 2017
Integrating Control Methods to Tackle Fire Blight
Fire blight is a damaging disease, no matter the location. Most production areas of the Pacific Northwest and California experience Read More
Apples & Pears
June 28, 2017
Apple Tree Insurance Program Being Developed
U.S. Apple Association working with AgriLogic Consulting, LLC and USDA Risk Management Agency to offer new risk management option which takes into effect weather damage and fire blight loses. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 26, 2017
Cosmic Changes Coming in Apple Production [Opinion]
‘Cosmic Crisp’ is an apt moniker for Washington’s new apple, because the changes coming to the industry are immense Read More
Apples & Pears
June 23, 2017
Take Advantage of Technology to Help Manage Diseases, Pest Pressure
Expert farm advisers provide several options for apple orchard management decisions. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 19, 2017
Bee-ware: New Resources Released for National Pollinator Week
New videos, webinars available during week-long observance. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 13, 2017
Two Bookkeepers and Family Charged With Stealing $1M from Zirkle Fruit
Payroll-scheme printed checks for phantom employees on payroll, but not working for the operation. Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
September 16, 2017
Researcher Finds Bacteria Can Stop Blue …
The natural bacterium found in soil can survive in cold storage; this promising biocontrol offers an alternative to chemical treatments. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 5, 2017
Pears Finding Home in Fermentation
Perry, a fermented beverage similar to hard apple cider, is gaining popularity in the U.S., and growers are learning about the production process from square one. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 26, 2017
‘EverCrisp’ Apple gets PLU Approval
Midwest Apple Improvement Association prepares for large harvest and larger distribution reach for first variety released. Read More
Apple Grower of the Year
August 22, 2017
U.S. Apple Association Hosts Annual Appl…
American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazine’s 2017 Apple Grower of the Year will be officially presented on Thursday, Aug. 24, during the first day of the conference. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 20, 2017
APHIS Seeks Comments on Risk Removal for…
Dormant live cuttings from countries in the European Union must currently go through pest risk assessment. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 15, 2017
Wet Weather Breeds Phytophthora in Young…
Crown rot, root rot flourishing in very wet growing season. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 9, 2017
2017 Washington Apple Crop Down Slightly
Forecasted harvest predicted to be 131 million boxes, down 1.2% from 2016. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 5, 2017
Penn State University Develops Bitter Pi…
Research team unlocks relationship between bitter pit, minerals, and shoot lengths. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 1, 2017
New York Growers’ Input Needed on Apple …
Project has begun to identify rapid collapse and chronic decline being found in young Eastern apple orchards. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 25, 2017
Tips to Transition to an Apple Fruiting …
Follow these suggestions to make the move from a 3-D spindle-shaped canopy to a 2-D system using mechanical pruning. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 6, 2017
International Fruit Tree Association See…
Deadline for proposals is July 31. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 30, 2017
Tackling the Challenges of Organic Apple…
Researchers at Michigan State University test organic controls for fire blight. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 29, 2017
Integrating Control Methods to Tackle Fi…
Fire blight is a damaging disease, no matter the location. Most production areas of the Pacific Northwest and California experience Read More
Apples & Pears
June 28, 2017
Apple Tree Insurance Program Being Devel…
U.S. Apple Association working with AgriLogic Consulting, LLC and USDA Risk Management Agency to offer new risk management option which takes into effect weather damage and fire blight loses. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 26, 2017
Cosmic Changes Coming in Apple Productio…
‘Cosmic Crisp’ is an apt moniker for Washington’s new apple, because the changes coming to the industry are immense Read More
Apples & Pears
June 23, 2017
Take Advantage of Technology to Help Man…
Expert farm advisers provide several options for apple orchard management decisions. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 19, 2017
Bee-ware: New Resources Released for Nat…
New videos, webinars available during week-long observance. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 13, 2017
Two Bookkeepers and Family Charged With …
Payroll-scheme printed checks for phantom employees on payroll, but not working for the operation. Read More