Last year as the cherries on my tree started to ripen, they turned brown and started falling, there are two different cherries on this tree and one ripens before the other and as they started to ripen, the same thing happened. Any ideas of what could have happened, the weather last year maybe? The cherries were good the year before.
Marion County Oregon
Hi and thanks for contacting Ask an Expert.
You have a sick cherry tree, either from brown rot or another fungal disease. This will continue until it destroys the tree without some intervention from you. Find all of the limbs that are infected and cut them back towards the trunk a good 4 inches from the diseased blossoms or limbs.
There are several sprays that can be used and I have linked a couple of sites that will explain the disease. The most important thing to do is keep your pruners clean. When pruning, dip your pruners in a bucket of bleach and water (about 10% bleach), after each cut, dip them in again, swish the blades around to kill off any spores. Burn or bag and throw the diseased branches away. Clear everything that drops on the ground out and burn or throw away. Then you need to start a spraying program. You probably will not get any edible cherries depending on how badly your tree is infected.
There could also be cankers on the limbs or trunk. They look like holes and sap weeps out of them. The limbs may be peeling, again cut back to good wood at least 4 inches from the lesions. Paint the open wounds with a white latex paint. You can water it down, you don't need much but you want to seal the tree.
I am attaching links with pictures for your review. However I copied one part of one link that is especially important. You can use Neem oil (a fungicide and an insecticide at this time. Apply fungicides just before blossoms open. Make additional applications at full bloom, and when most or all of the blossom petals have fallen. Do not use sulfur products during bloom west of the Cascades. Do not apply copper fungicides after full bloom.
If you have any blooms left and you have pollinators, do not use Neem until they blossoms are gone.
Another important point is to keep the fruit flies out of any good fruit. You can use fruit fly traps purchased at the store or you can make traps with empty plastic bottles and apple cider vinegar. Pierce a hole on either side of the neck of the bottle and push a fishing line through long enough to make a loop you can put over a limb. On the upper half of the bottle, pierce holes big enough for small flies to enter. Pour cider vinegar in the bottom of the bottle about 1/2 to 1 inch. Put the cap on the bottle and hang from the trees. The more of these you put out, the better chances of catching more flies. These flies pierce the fruit and lay an egg in each cherry. They also lay eggs in peaches, pears, plums, etc. Have not seen them in apples through.