Why are there so many dead fruit trees in Denver?

“Why is my fruit tree dead?”

If you’re a homeowner in Denver and Douglas County, there’s a good chance you may be asking that same question. The Mother’s Day frost of May 10th wiped out a variety of fruit trees: apple, cherry, plum, and pear. If you have a fruit tree that didn’t bloom this year, there’s a chance it’s a victim of the frost and maybe even tree diseases. (CSU Extension Horticulture)

Fungal diseases in fruit trees

photo-1417915134192-0194508577acA sub-freezing cold snap like the Mother’s Day blizzard can weaken and shock a tree’s vascular system. This allows tree diseases to infiltrate trees and cause dieback, a slow, progressive death of tree branches and leaves. Some trees die within a year or two, but some trees also survive and return to full strength.

Cankers and galls can infect fruit trees following a shock to their system, like a late frost in the spring. Diseases such as cytospora, leucostoma, and valsa fungal pathogens create cankers on fruit trees. They are fungal infections by nature and show tell-tale signs of fungal infection when the bark and branches of an infected fruit tree begin to ooze a sticky residue.

Bacteria in fruit trees

Another leading cause of dead fruit trees is bacterial infections. S0me cankers from bacteria pathogens affect mainly stone fruits, like plums and peaches. Once a disease infects a tree, it can be very hard to remove while still preserving the tree. You may be able to limit the disease by trimming infected branches back to healthy growth areas. Don’t try to trim your fruit trees by yourself. We highly recommend enlisting the help of a certified arborist to give your infected trees the best chance for survival.

Our Fielding Tree & Shrub Care team is committed to helping infected fruit trees around Denver. If you’re wondering whether your apple or pear tree survived the frost, call our Fielding Tree team to schedule an on-site inspection. We can show you how healthy your tree may be and steps to protect other trees in your vicinity. We’re Denver’s favorite arborist and we’re here to serve you!