My Montmorency Cherry died

Looks like my Montmorency cherry tree has died. I am looking for insight into what might have happened.
This tree was 12 years old and in nice well drained sandy soil.
I pruned it back pretty good this winter but I can’t imagine it was enough to kill it.
Are these trees really that short lived?
Recommendations for another tart cherry?
I have a northstar that I like which is about 8 years old.
Any other recommendations?

How did they died? Not breaking dormant at all? Leafed out and leaves turned brown and dead? Part of trees died first and the whole tree died later?

Not that I know the answer but I had a sweet cherry tree died of what I believe to be verticillium wilt.

Mine was only 6 or 7 but is dying now. I cut away as much as I could hoping to squeeze one more season out of the surviving branches but I planted another already so I won’t need to wait too long for more pie.

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The tree was fine last summer and fall. It has did not wake up this spring.
No swollen buds. All twigs dead.

I suspected either a soil borne disease or serious temperature swing that killed it.

It’s kinda strange. This was a very mild winter.

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My cherry tree was on Krymsk 1. The first year it grew well. The second year I grafted several varieties on it. The third year it woke up leafed out a bit and all the leaves started to wilt and the whole tree died.

Someone told me Krymsk rootstock does not tolerated being grafted on ( like more than a couple of grafts). That person thought that was what killed my tree.

Your is an established tree. What rootstock it was on?
I don’t think Mont or sour cherries in general are short lived. Sweet cherry trees outside CA and MI seem to succumb to many diseases and died early.

If after you pruned it became a lot colder, that could do it. I know we had a mild winter, but that might not matter. Pruning should be in very late winter to avoid this. The closer to bud break the better. Alan mentions where he killed a bunch of trees by pruning during winter and it got colder.

No, so it is strange.


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Pruning a young tree hard followed by a really cold winter could do it in. Your tree was not young and the winter was mild. It did not fit that theory.

Where are you located? Any chance of boring insects like ambrosia beetles in your area?

Not sure you are correct? It’s about the swings in temps, not how cold it is. If temps dropped from 70F to 30F that could do it. Or maybe 50F to 20F . Not sure you need a cold winter to cause damage. I certainly have a lot of tip burn this year on blackberries.

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We need more info from @ribs1. We don’t know his location and we don’t know if his tree experienced any serious temp swing. If so, how often?

More info is needed.


I am in South Eastern Michigan. I don’t think there was a serious temp swing this season.

Peak my curiosity. Always want to find out about mysterious death of a tree. One of my plum tree died suddenly, never woke up.

Can you take a few pics of the tree, trunk , the ground, etc?

You’re near me OK, well no we have not. Well not till Friday! Looks like the commercial cherry crop is history. Well if you pruned when the lows were 40, and it fell to 20, that could do it. Pruning lowers hardiness for about 2 weeks.
A year ago we had massive amounts of water. I lost a nectarine tree, and another nectarine root’s were damaged enough to abort a whole scaffold. Your tree is old, too hard for borers. If in a low spot it might have held off damage from last year, but with a small root system finally gave it up. It’s a long shot! Not sure why your tree died?

I forgot to add that just after we picked all the cherries last year all the leaves turned yellow and fell off.
I thought that was strange at the time. The tree might have died before winter.

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OK, maybe I’m right then, the ground was too wet for too long. Mound all trees if you can.
Mine was not in standing water most of the time, but when it rained it took a long time to drain, and it did kill my tree. Luckily only one out of about 11 trees. It was one of the lowest. On Lovell, I had a pluot on citation that did well same low spot. It’s my most valued tree! I replaced the dead one, but it has yet to break dormancy. I just got it though. Still I hate waiting to see if it takes.

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Thanks for you insight Drew.
I am pretty sure the drainage is good at the site. This tree is on a sandy hill.
I do still think it might have been root rot though. The rootstock is unknown as I think I got this particular tree at home depot or something.
It appears you are not far from me. Was it a wet year last summer? I think the rivers were up all year and it seems to me that my grass never went dormant but I do suffer from a severe case of CRS syndrome. (can’t remember anything)

In the spring it was. Like this time of year now. Cold too, that has not changed! Once spring gets going everything is growing so at least the plants absorb a lot of water. In late winter if it’s wet that is deadly. Nothing growing, the water has no place to go.
Yes the lakes and rivers are still at record high levels, but not too much excess moisture this year. Hoping for a dry year, we need lakes levels down.

All good advice and it still wouldn’t hurt to look at the trunk for bores. They look like little round holes in the trunk. You might have sap leaking from them.