Death of fruit trees

Asked August 25, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT

I live in Seward NE and have several fruit frees--plum. nectarine, kiwi, cherry, apple, and pear.

They were all 5 to ten years old and all have died from early spring to now. Some did not even leaf out at all and some did, but gradually died branch by branch, None had any blooms or fruit. What could be wrong?

Seward County Nebraska trees and shrubs apples fruit trees plums cherry trees

1 Response

Whenever plants in different families react similarly, the most likely cause is not insect- or pathogen-related but environmental. This then points to last November's cold event. If you recall, Fall had been warm and pleasant, then November brought a precipitous drop in temperature. Plants not fully winterized were caught with water within their cells. The water then froze, bursting cell walls and creating pressure within woody tissues. This resulted in cracks, splits and bark lifting--all devastating damage to trees. Your fruit trees did their best to recover, with some of them sending out leaves, but even these attempts could not be supported given the trees' depleted defenses. It's important to note that all plants, even the hardiest ones, can be damaged/killed when abrupt changes in weather does not allow them the time necessary to acclimatize as when these changes are gradual. This doesn't mean you shouldn't re-plant.