Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Why Young Apple Trees Die in Midi-Pyrenees

About three years ago we planted five apple trees. Three have died, another is sick, leaving only one which is reasonably healthy.
They have never grown strongly and we assumed that this was due to the extreme dryness which we suffer from in the summer, but this is not the case.  When these trees start to die the trunks have a diameter of about five centimetres (two inches).   
The bark near the base of the trunk goes soft and then this spreads around the trunk.  By this stage there is no cure and the trees end up on the bonfire.  So far this problem has not affected other types of trees in the garden.
These trees were bought from several local nurseries, but the three which have died have come from the largest, so we went to ask them what was going wrong.  After checking that it was not the result of mower damage, the helpful and knowledgeable assistant at Jarriges asked if the damage started on the Western side of the tree.   I had already registered that it seemed to start on the South Western side.  He then said that sometimes their suppliers grow the trees too close together and so when they are small they don’t get enough direct sun to harden the bark.  If they are then planted out in a position where they receive direct sun from the South and West their bark cooks and is damaged.  A fungal disease then enters and the rot starts.

The solution is to protect the trees by wrapping sacking around the trunk until they are well established. 

Since the nursery is aware of the problem it’s a great pity that we were not given this advice when they were bought.