Apple orchard cause of death?

A friend has a 12 year old orchard of about 100 trees. He left for the summer and when he came back 70% of his trees were completely dead no leaves. The picture below is one of the trees. The local extention expert said it was due to a severe winter. I am not so sure. The trees were in bloom and appears healthy when he left for the summer. I appreciate any insight as he was quite distraught.

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Is there a picture? If so, something isn’t working for me! Not the first time here either.

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Thank you!

Sorry I don’t have any help to offer about the orchard. Very sad- a lot of work down the drain.

A complete guess: severe winter followed by a dry summer. Perhaps the bloom was a last effort.

So sad to lose that many trees. Not enough information to give you even a wild guess.

I think you’re going to have to find a way to communicate a bit more information.

Are all the survivors on one side of the orchard, for instance?

Could there have been a brush fire,or, areal spraying of Roundup? (I’m just trying to think of something. Zone 4 is pretty north…so what was the rootstock?)

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Yes I wish I had more information and pictures. The 30% that survived or younger trees that had not of age to Blossom. The trees that did survive had smaller than usual leaves that were cupped.

He bought his trees from a variety of sources so I do not know what kind of rootstock other than they were not standard size.

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Is that rootstock suckers in the photo?

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I noticed that too, BambooMan

Glyphosate would be unlikely if those are suckers. Then again, I’m not as experienced as others in this area.

Good thought. But, having tried to kill brush with Roundup or one of the generic products with the same ingredients………I have found it often does not kill the root, just what it contacts. Roundup works wonderful on grass…on woody perennials, not so much.

But, like I said, we don’t have a great deal to go on, and I was trying to think of possibilities.

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That could be worth thinking about if it indicates herbicide damage. @cityman has way too much experience with that!

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It’s impossible to say without inspecting the trees. I might suspect vole damage. I got hit hard last winter. Many of the trees looked stressed but, set fruit then dyed when the summer heat hit. I see he did not manage vegetation under the trees which would give them cover. Tell him to dig a few up and look at the roots.

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I have another thought…is there a utility right of way nearby…they often use contractors with foreign workers to spray strong herbicides…I lost 2 or 3 apple trees that way once…when they sprayed under power lines.

Somehow, I just doubt it was a “cold winter”.

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I have found it difficult to intently kill a tree with roundup and nearly impossible to accidentally kill an established tree with roundup. 2-4-D or Dicamba could kill trees but, should not have been applied in the summer. Commercial applicators are pretty careful for the most part.

You’re right. Roundup may defoliate, but rarely kills trees.
I’ll stay tuned to see what everyone else thinks…but like Area51…I am suspicious of a ‘cold winter’ diagnosis.

The local extension “expert” should have sent samples to the lab, inspected for disease, insect and vole damage.

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Here is another here picture of a dead tree. He said that the orange fungus was not on most of the dead trees. So that may be from after death. But he only has two pictures of the dead trees and has burned them all.

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