I have an apple tree that seems to be dying but I don't know from what. Last...

Asked June 29, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT

I have an apple tree that seems to be dying but I don't know from what. Last year it was fine and produced many apples. This is only our second year owning the property so I don't know what kind of apple tree it is. We have had a lot of rain but we have good drainage here and the ground hasn't been spongy or anything. I have attached a picture and have 2 more but I think I can only add 1. I know there are a lot of suckers on the bottom of the tree. Could that have anything to do with it? Thanks for your help!!

Wadena County Minnesota

1 Response

We can't be sure what's causing the problem without seeing the tree. However, the combined effects of severe drought and colder than normal winter conditions have taken a toll on many trees and shrubs including apple trees. Damage ranges from delayed leaf development to branch die back to total collapse (death).

University of Minnesota Plant Specialist Emily Hoover explains what happened this way:

"The tree has enough stored carbohydrates in the wood to get the buds growing in the spring. But the underlying vascular tissue that conducts water has died or been significantly injured. When the first warmish days arrive, and water is needed, the buds wilt and die due to a lack of water from the root system."

If significant portions of the tree remain healthy, it might recover.

Apple and other fruit trees in Michigan were also affected. What follows may be of interest:

Tree death and dieback are evident in apples following Michigan’s hard winter
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/tree_death_and_dieback_are_evident_in_apple_following_michigans_hard_winter