Sick Apple Tree

Asked July 13, 2019, 8:14 PM EDT

Our apple tree is not producing apples, its leaves fell off early, and the ones remaining are yellow with brown spots on them. Last year, the tree had apples, but the apples had small, rough brown spots on them. Also, the tree has strange bumpy growths anywhere a branch was removed or fell off. What is causing these problems?

Baltimore County Maryland

5 Responses

Hi- overall, your tree may be in a slow decline (even though it looks relatively healthy right now with a full canopy and no sign of branch dieback).

It's likely the tree is infected with one or more foliar diseases. Apple scab in particular will cause slow and steady defoliation on un-treated trees.

The rough spots on fruits last year could have been russeting (natural or caused by diseases) or possibly scale insects. The bumpiness at pruning cuts is the callus tissue sealing off the wound. Sunken, darkened tissue along the trunk or branches could indicate cankers- diseases that affect bark and wood and can lead to branch dieback.

Unless you plan on putting a lot of time, money and effort into caring for this tree- pruning, monitoring, spraying- you may want to simply enjoy it as an ornamental tree and remove it if and when its decline accelerates.
Apple tree information:

Thank you for your prompt response! My family loves this tree, and we want to see what options we have help cure its ailments. Do you recommend any services or contractors that might be able to help? Is it even curable at this point?

We certainly understand the sentimental value of a tree. You always have the option to have the tree evaluated on-site by a certified arborist. They have the training and tools to test for diseases/pests/structural issues and can set up a plan for management if that is a course you want to take. Apple scab and other foliar diseases are persistent but manageable (not really "curable") if you want to get on a spray program. You can find a certified arborist using this webpage from the International Society of Arboriculture.


Per your response, I reached to a local certified Arborist who will take a look at the tree. Thank you so much for your fantastic help!