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Disease in leaves of Montmorency
John S
1064 Posts
September 17, 2020 - 8:56 am

This disease just started up in my Montmorency cherry tree. As you will see in the picture, it's pretty widespread.  I have a small amount of disease in a medlar and a pear nearby.  My other pears and Montmorency cherries aren't affected. 

I sprayed them with fungal and bacterial compost tea.  Does anyone have ideas about what this disease might be?
John S
PDX ORDisease-on-Mont-cherry-leaves.jpg

490 Posts
September 17, 2020 - 10:45 am

My opinion might be kind of hard to explain but it isn't disease. It's just a normal sign of stress that the trees immune system is concious about. 

Some overly sensitive species don't like the back and forth swaying of branches due to wind. Especially my pawpaw, but it must also include trees like cherry that seeds from birds in taller evergreen forests plant. Which is on par with pawpaws growing as understory trees having been in the wind protection of the higher forest trees. My pawpaw has 10% of it's leaves remaining and it's all due to this unnatural exposure and it's been kind of well watered. 

Another stress response that I have learned that counts allot for me is meeting in person with R Purvis (phd) from Idaho over some results of precociosly early fruiting of a 3 year old apple plot inide a greenhouse. Due to the experiences Robert had in being employed in trials of growing young apples that by the time the trial ended it was proven wind and assumably the moving of branches in trees that were never staked solid to a pole support system, that they could not bear fruit at the same early age as those that were. Which to me explains a smart and fully functional and internally active system is working in all these of some of our fruit trees.

...and one of my mature yet well managed of pear trees has this same look to it too. You can just pull all the leaves off and wait until next spring. 🙂

Btw -although it was a fun Fairbanks AK newspaper headline on "early fruiting apples" for greenhouse trial in Alaska/~2009 at the time, it was not intended to prove specifically the wind delay of apple bearing.

2 Posts
September 17, 2020 - 11:58 am

This might also be along the lines of what Rooney has mentioned about wind stress on certain trees . My observations might be one possibility with what is going on with John S's tree . On or about the evening of Sept 8,2020 there was a severe wind event with gusty winds between 35 mph and 60mph plus or above . With very warm temperatures above 80 degrees F with extremely low humidity . This event lasted well over 12 hours on the central Oregon Coast . A good portion of my edible landscape was in tatters and the plants that were able to keep their leaves experienced severe windburn . Always a challenging experience growing plants in this part of the country . Never knowing what the next day has too offer .

490 Posts
September 17, 2020 - 3:56 pm

Nice to see your observations too ML.

With all we have available in domesticated vegetable and small-fruit seedlots from the store that are greenhouse grown, and for who knows how many generations, says lots for what's been lost from the wild. If any of wild types ever become extinct and nothing to back-cross to, then it might take lots of time and effort to build those strong outdoors kinds of traits back again.

When it comes to higher level plants like trees that have slow turnaround generations they have slightly different assorted genes to offer which make up the difference. As true perenials they experience and adapt for conditions felt in years past as well as generations past. 

Slowly but surely new tools are unlocking previous unknown secrets of the plastic state of plants and it's prettly involved but also at the same time very beautiful to see how much plants know compared to the little we know about them.

The "feared" lost state of plant readiness is kind of implicated in these discoveries of supergenes (ie. sunflowers) that travel down generations together.

60 Posts
September 17, 2020 - 10:34 pm

Opinion?  Looks like Fireblight.  Though I don't know if Cherries get that.  I get a touch sometimes, but it never spreads.

To me, it looks like you are gonna lose that tree.  Alternately, has it been girdled somewhere?

Check the cambium.  If it is dead or dying, prune out the dead branches.  Burn them.

Spray everything with soapy solution containing a little Chlorox.  Repeat a few times over the next few weeks.

Looks bad.

Be prepared for a funeral.

Too bad.  I love Montmorency Cherries.

495 Posts
September 18, 2020 - 1:32 pm

John, what was it, 2 weeks ago, we had 50 or 60 MPH wind gust and a big wind storm that wreaked all sorts of havoc.

Is it possible that these leaves were vascularly damaged in the wind storm and then died from physical trauma?

I've noticed some leaves like that in otherwise healthy tree and figured maybe its just from blowing around violently.

Sometimes I'm careless with prunings and leave them in the canopy.  A week later I wonder why I have sudden branch death with brown/black leaves, then realize that limb is not attached to the tree.

John S
1064 Posts
September 20, 2020 - 11:26 am

I love this forum! You are coming up with some great ideas.  I think I am going to wait and see.  Isn't fireblight a black appearance on branches and leaves? My branches look fine.   Those leaves fell off and now the remaining leaves look fine as well.  I think I am going to go with wind gust/smoke reaction, based on the scientific basis that the outcome would be better for me :). 

John S

John S
1064 Posts
July 16, 2021 - 1:54 pm

Almost one year later-here is what happened.

After spraying with fungal and bacterial compost tea, I severely pruned the tree and noticed that many of the branches seemed to be diseased, crowded and full of some fungus.

It was a very spare looking tree.

I did get production out of it this year, although it was much less than the other Montmorencies. 

The tree looks fine, and the pruning and compost tea spray seems to have done its job: it's a healthy looking tree.

Next year will be back to a regular, healthy tree schedule.

I like the happy ending stories, especially with my garden/orchard.

John S

490 Posts
July 18, 2021 - 10:23 am

Good use of your liquid compost and good rescue job !! 

There may be more to account for when it comes to wind caused damage in the way of promoting disease when it comes to the physical aspect of leaves hitting and scraping each other.


--Insights from Mechanics --Sharp Knife

490 Posts
July 26, 2021 - 6:20 pm

We may have second thoughts and need to be a bit open to the reason why it is that "one montmorency" not up to full production yet and not "the others" (""quote and unquotes). 

After reading about 100 pages of what's been said from Oregon (1970s) about pollen born viruses that actually originated in mainly prunus European areas the articles firmly pin point that sour cherry and specifically 'montmorency' by name (and further back in time) that you have more dread to confront on this issue as a possibility.
(first published in Canada 1948 and years after indicating visual symptoms on montmorency)

Be hesitant because tea won't test or cure a virus. It's not always easy not being a farmer but still possible on your part to make a contact through OSU for a specific cucumber lab test with instruction before this may be too late for you to remove the one. The two sources of virus that are pollen transferable show remission as well, but downwards production will be assured.

John S
1064 Posts
July 31, 2021 - 8:15 pm


It certainly is a possibility.  I won't spend all of my energy worrying about that possibility until I see some evidence that it is likely to be true.  How much does it cost to get a test from OSU?

JOhn S

490 Posts
August 1, 2021 - 3:42 pm

Another bad thing about contacting a virus in your yard is that (as if it's not complicated enough) success rates for cherry grafting goes down. This specifically comes from guidances put out to cherry producers at one time in this country and at a time when these protocols (or kits) were not so readily available. If a cherry bud failed to take then the nursery guide recommends to discard that individual or lot.  [I'm in Alaska again and can't search thus no link 🙁 ]

So with a virus detection system in mind and each of us having the skills of grafting means we don't necessarily need certified cucumbers from the program. We have the option of finding certified (free of virus) flowering cherry 'shirofugen' and directly budding those in to existing cherry trees of any type that viruses are suspected. When the flowering cherry bud is forced out and if the leaves appeared normal just then then everything is okay in that portion of the tree just now. (so leave the shoot in place)

Viruses can grow along as fast as 2 inches per day, but likely stop during the dormant season. (this from personal conversation from the expertises of the lab that viruses can't live outside of a living cell for more than 48 hours) -so I could be wrong on dormancy. 

For everyone else wishing to use a system of cucumber then seek the seed and guidance from your local authority, only because I have no experiences regarding cucumber, sorry. 

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