Sudden death

There is a small section of my yard where everything seems to be dying and I can’t figure out why. It started with an east west line of three dappled willows, a pluot, and the part of a north south border of bridal wreath that intersected. After several years they just didn’t come back this spring. Now the line seems to be extending northward and I’ve lost another pluot, 2 plums and more bridal wreath. There really was no foreshadowing for the first set. I just noticed the latest losses (surgery so I haven’t looked for about two weeks) and on those everything looks just dried up, leaves curled and dry, trees and bushes dead I try to stay organic and use bt, surround, and traps generally. Copper and dormant oil when appropriate and needed. Any ideas what this could be? The nettle and irises there are fine. Mint is gone and one of the willows is trying to restart. If I can’tget this stopped next in line is another plum, granny Smith, and haralson before getting to my grapes, berries, veggies, and my main orchard area

Please forgive weeds. This is one that just died and the next in line plum

Check the root ball area for termites. I just had a peach tree die from that and so did another persons pear tree on this forum.

what do the roots look like on the dead trees, willows dying is a concern as they are surely very hardy in your climate.

Some of the weeds in the background look like they also are dying. The most common cause of that is someone spraying weed killer, @thecityman had a major problem with that this spring. If there was something bad in the soil the weeds would never have started growing this spring to begin with. So either weed killer or recent soil contamination is all I can think that would do damage on both trees and weeds.

We havent sprayed weed killer and the neighbouring house (vacant) on that side hasn’t either. This is actually a very sheltered area of the yard so drift from anywhere is near impossible. There’s a Bramley to the south that doesn’t look affected at all. It’s kind of like this random line in the soil became poisoned and it’s spreading.

I’m not sure. I hurt my knee hence the surgery and haven’t checked out the roots yet Plus one is trying to grow back

I didn’t notice the weeds that Scott mentioned. They look as if something was deliberately sprayed or dumped from close by to the area as they are seemly drawing a line of dying and healthy. Can you get a picture of the surrounding ground?

Termites eat dead wood not living, so would have no effect on a tree. They merely are an early part of removing a dead one and victims of being blamed for starting to remove a dead tree.

I too thought poison from perhaps dumping as a cause. I had considered progressive failure in a drip irrigation line, but that would not explain the weeds. Vacant house next door, how are weeds/lawn being maintained? Realtor? Toxic waste dumping in a vacant home yard?

Sudden and progressive multispecies die off is more likely environment/toxin than pathogen/pest. Though I could think of a few root pests that might attack a broad range of plants, but not that broad. The leaves do not show classic spray herbicide injury however. I do not find any reports of broad species range die off in Nebraska right now via Google.

Yes, pictures of the surrounding ground of the dying areas might be quite informative. As would digging down and examining roots and smelling the soil. But I understand this won’t be possible because of your back.

I have known of a line of dead vegetation with no apparent cause.
In that case it was from a leaking buried gas line.

This may not fit the pattern of damage. But there was winter kill of trees at that latitude from foothills in CO to Omaha.

That’s the first thing that came to my mind. Then I was thinking that would probably eventually spread to the sides, as well, instead of just continuing to follow a straight line, unless the line was corrupted to the point of developing many small holes, or the gas was blocked from spreading to the sides.

Second thought was if it was in line with pool backwash drainage or runoff from an area where automotive fluids entered the ground, or even salt water from ice cream making (a lot of ice cream!) or water softening system.

Farther down my thoughts of possibilities was overdosing an area with something like borax or epsom salts.

Way down my list was whether or not there was some type of harmful nematode in that ground, but it’s progressing in a line, and is said to be a recent occurrence.

Do you have gophers/voles/mice in your area?

I know you seem very confident it isn’t from spray, but as someone who, as Alan noted, has just been through this, I must tell you that that photo sure looks exactly like what the 2, 4-D spray did to my trees and plants. I can tell you that in my case, some of the drift went more than 1000 feet, and I’ve read stories of much further distances. It also resulted in some strange patterns , similar to your described lines of death. I had places where there was lots of death, then almost no damage areas, then more dead areas. I can’t explain how the spray could fall onto certain areas and then not fall or affect areas in the middle but then affect other areas further away, but that’s what happened. Also, I did have some sharp lines of damage no damage. In some cases it seemed to be where the cloud of spray just sort of ended, but in other cases it was because some obstacle like a building or fence or tree would block part of the cloud and the rest of the cloud would continue to drift another 500 feet- leaving the line of living things where the spray had been blocked by something upwind, but dead things elsewhere. I also had spray drift in areas almost surrounded by trees and other things, so the spray has a way of getting to areas you wouldn’t expect.

Again, I understand you are doubtful and certainly you know better than I do. But those photos look just like the damage I had and the other patterns you describe also are possible, even though you can’t really rationalize it. So I just wanted to let you know it is more possible than you may have thought. Either way, I wish you luck.

Just recently I noticed two dead willow trees here in Omaha. They were mature very tall and beautiful trees, located in the different spots of the city. Now they are leafless and dry. They did not survived this winter for some reason. This was a weird winter and my plum tree (but not cherries) also died without obvious explanation. But its death was obvious in April when it failed to leaf out. You are in east NE where the weather extremes should be worse then in Omaha. Maybe it is a late winter damage?

That’s near where the willow trees were. This part of my yard is directly sheltered to the east by my Victorian house, to the west by the vacant houses garage, dog kennel, line of bridal wreath and to the north by a storm shelter (about 4-5 feet high) which is why I’d planted the pluots there. It’s sheltered. My sewer line goes from the opposite side of the house to the street As for yard maintenance on the vacant house, it gets mowed and that’s it. The dog kennel is full of six foot tall nettle. I’m thinking of taking a soil sample and branch to the extension office.

Antmary, my pluots did leaf out with the exception of the one that died first with the willows. Those only had a few leaves that quickly dried up. None of this makes sense to me. This is the originall “line of death” you can see nettle in the neighbors yard and the one willow is growing back. They weren’t quite 10 feet tall before.

It doesn’t look to me like everything is dying or any particular pattern. Winter freeze damage is the best explanation I’ve heard. Most of those things like leaking gas are very unlikely. Freeze damage was apparently widespread in CO and NE. Winter freeze damage often doesn’t become apparent until the weather turns hot. The tree dries up like that because the water transporting wood was damaged.

I hope so. My fear is that it’ll keep creeping into the main orchard until I lose them all.

Those dead weeds just don’t make sense. There are more dead weeds in your new picture. Freeze damage would have been a long time ago and the weeds look like they died not that long ago.