compacted soil may be problem cherry losing fruits prematurely

Asked June 9, 2018, 5:44 PM EDT

continued from " fruits on cherry trees dying" . I have suspicion that fruits dying can be caused by too compacted soil like per article in suggested previously in this source. My cherries trees as well as neighborhood apple and plums are not keep strongly in ground I mean they roots are not strong in ground and mowing together when trunk is pushed. Exception is sour Montmorency which is ingrown strongly in ground. Should already these approximately 7 years old trees be strongly ingrown into earth? How can I improve the ground or confirm the ground compaction is a problem causing roots not growing deeply? May other problem cause shallow/weak roots ?



P.S. 6 years ago I dig big hole and filled it with approximately 5 barrow of garden soil before planted each of tree.

Outside United States

8 Responses

Dear Jack,

Thank you for contacting us. It is difficult to diagnose plant problems over the internet, however, I can offer a couple of possible reasons for the premature fruit drop. An associate states:

"a certain amount of fruit drop is normal for cherries. Many places even call it "June drop". Larger than normal fruit drops can also be caused by erratic water, or low temps at fruit set. 7 year old trees are still quite young, and young trees often are unable to bear a great deal of fruit, and will naturally drop much of it when temps start rising.
For more information, please see:

However, if your neighbors are seeing a similar problem on various types of fruit trees, I suspect the soil in your area is partly the problem. Is the soil primarily clay based? If so, it may be difficult to grow fruit trees under these conditions.

Of concern is the practice of replacing the backfill in the planting hole with a different type of soil. This practice is never recommended unless you can excavate the area of the entire root zone at maturity (a large area 2 to 3 times the mature height of the tree.) Otherwise, the roots become trapped in the planting hole. Roots (and water) will generally not penetrate the walls of the planting hole, and they essentially become root-bound in the same way that they would in a pot.

The standard recommendation in such cases is to dig up the tree in autumn and replant it in a hole using the same soil that was dug out. Then top the ultimate root zone area for the tree at maturity with an inch of well-rotted manure or compost on the surface of the soil (never mix it in the hole). Finally, cover the compost with 3 to 4 inches of wood chips or similar mulch to retain moisture and further feed the soil.

If digging the tree up is not an option due to size, you should still follow these instructions for improving the soil over time. The organic matter will perc down into the soil as it decomposes further. With a bit of luck, the soil tilth will begin to improve before the tree declines.

As an addendum, 1 inch of compost should be added to the entire root zone once or twice a year, indefinitely. It is not necessary to move the wood chips, and more chips can be added also as they break down.

Organic matter should always be placed on the surface where it will not rob the roots of nitrogen during decomposition.


Soil doesn't seem to be clay but is bad quality some sand with some big grain (little gravel), color little orange. Very difficult too dig when dry. Watering a soil caused possibility too dig. But my cedars fence growing well in it. By the way, see for comparison apple and pear trees on included photos (both have 4 different kinds fruits ), both the same age (7 years Approx), treated equally with water fertilizer and extra 5 barrow earth replaced 6 years ago (both are weakly ingrown into earth). Apple seems to be approximately 10 times bigger than pear! What can cause pear not growing? what does cause some spots on leaves?(see photo).
P.S. Apple have a lot of fruits, however last year fruits degraded and stop growing. Two years ago apple fruits were big and in large quantity. Similar happened with may Fuji apples on other side of house, but also this year seems to be ok. To bu sure need wait until Sept/October to see mature fruits.

Hello again, Jack,

Trees with multiple fruits tend to favour one or a couple of fruits. All of the fruits are grafted onto the rootstock The stronger ones thrive, but weak ones may die off. You essentially have to provide the pollination and growing conditions that all of the fruits need.

Spots on leaves are not a concern unless there is a definite pattern or spreading, and the leaf damage is preventing photosynthesis in the tree. Occasional bugs or leaf spots are normal.The old adage might be applied to trees 'what doesn't kill it, makes it stronger.' Don't make the mistake of trying to treat for every bug.

If it is necessary to water because of a lack of rain, be sure to water deeply (so the soil is damp 2 inches below the surface. Then do not water again until the soil dries out. Shallow watering will create shallow root systems.

There is not much more I can tell you aside from repeating the process for improving your soil. You might want to get a soil test to check the nutritional balance in the soil. If problems continue to worsen, I suggest you contact a certified arborist for a professional assessment. Good luck with your harvest.

Hi Lynne, I want only to clear that all 4 different species of pears on one pear tree are small (see first photo), whereas all 4 different species of apples on one apple tree are big (see third photo). Mean the apple tree is much bigger than pear tree, I use the same chair on photos to see difference between same old pear and same old apple. In Contrary, doesn't seem that different species are growing not equally both on pear tree and apple tree. In conclusion I mean that something wrong with pear tree as it almost not grown during 6 years. Why?
Thanks, Jack

There are a number of possible reason for variations in the rate of growth including

differences in the way each was planted (i.e. varying depths or amount of root disturbance); differences in the starting health of each plant; varying amounts of soil moisture throughout the planting bed; differences in sunlight along the row; closer proximity of some plants to growth inhibitors (i.e. other big tree roots or a driveway); bug, disease or animal damage to some of the plants, and genetic variability.

Hi Lynne, In addition my plum upper is dying whereas lower part is still ok see attached photo. I have noticed this approximately one week ago. Two years ago all three plums get some sickness see attached photos. One of plum died last year, could be also caused by lack of water as I did not pour water during very dry season. But this year I am pouring lot of water under all my trees. What could be reason for upper part dying on my plum? I am hope it will not die whole.

Thank you for your new question. I’m afraid I cannot add to what Lynne has already said. As she suggested, I recommend you find a local expert who is familiar with your region, soil, rainfall and pathogens. The research we do in the States may not translate to your country or area. Good luck!