Trees wilting and dieback after leafing out in spring

I have seen several posters mention trees wilting and dying in late spring. One of my jujubes did it last year where all the limbs died back to the trunk. This year I had a small amount on apple and persimmon but all my pawpaws were really hit hard this year. Any ideas on what is causing this? It is not borers or cold.

Is this for new trees or established trees?

established trees

Hmm… How about herbicides? I see the field on the background. If the field is sprayed during late autumn and winter you might not notice the damage until it is too late.

We spray roundup and paraquat, this is not roundup damage. Paraquat acts like this but I don’t think that is the problem either. The side closest the field is the best and my other affected trees are not close to the field.

It could be that pawpaws are more sensitive to paraquat. The most vigorous parts have the most damage which correlates with herbicide - more active areas have more uptake. The only reason why the herbicide thing is sticking in my head is I can’t think of anything else that was give such an unusual dieback.

Look for nematodes.

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It is unusual that different types of trees have similar die back in spring. It does not look that you have low standing water issue. So my thought was about herbicides. They can accumulate slowly in the roots, especially if they are applied in autumn when the sap goes into the roots before winter. This is how my treatment against creeping charlie works. I spray it 2-3 times and it seems to be alive, but it does not come back next spring. I am no way an expert in herbicides. This is just a thought.

I’m going to say that Ray’s suggestion is another possibility for your area, since they are a known issue in the sand based soil areas of the state. Of course, you can’t just look for them, since they are microscopic, but you can have the soil tested for them. Unfortunately, if they are the problem, they will affect other things planted in the same area until they are eradicated. Since you’re a farmer, treating the soil for them is probably more feasible for you than a regular home grower - IF they are an issue.

We do have nematodes but I don’t think they would just affect certain limbs on a tree while the rest are unaffected. I think a general decline of the whole tree would be a symptom of nematodes.

Two things I can think of are cold and boron. We had a cool November and early December and then 2 really warm weeks before cooling back to a normal winter, never dropped below the 20’s. Nothing broke dormancy but buds did swell. Maybe this was enough to cause damage later.

Boron deficiency causes some of these symptoms and I added Borax to some plants that have displayed small signs last year, mainly jujube and apple. None was added to any pawpaw because they have done great for 5 or six years. Jujube are doing much better this year. Last year I went to graft onto my Sugar Cane and could not find a live limb on the tree, it did grow nicely from the main trunk after pruning it back to a large whip.

Another smaller pawpaw mostly dead, just growing from one area. The small limbs on apple and persimmon were pruned out, don’t have pics of them. I also have a third pawpaw that looks the same.

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I could believe a cold snap of some sort did that - the most vigorous buds are the ones that are not sprouting since they were the first to sprout but got knocked back. Some of my pomegranates look like that, the tops started to sprout but got frozen out. Boron or nematodes don’t match the pattern of dieback.

When do pawpaws leaf out in comparison to other trees? I planted 4 just this year. So, I don’t have a realistic reference of my own.

The same in this part of the state, except that I’d add a very, very wet Sept through Dec, but your soil is much better at draining.

I asked about the pawpaw bloom time because you mentioned a similar, but smaller scale, problem on a persimmon. My Japanese persimmons are some of the very last trees to break dormancy. I’d think that, under normal conditions, they’d be some of the least likely trees to be affected by late frosts/freezes. However, the roller coaster of temperatures this past winter left my own trees where they sort of stalled out in January as they worked their way out of their initial dormancy. Right as I was expecting to lose everything from having them break bud far too early, the cold air finally moved in and halted the process. That left them ‘dormant’, but dormant at a different stage of development than usual. I hope that wasn’t as confusing to others as it seemed to me. They actually started blooming very slightly later than in previous years.

The question is, if this winter had a similar effect on yours, is that something you are suspecting as possibly contributing to cold damage?

Could be cold damage to the bark. Buds survived but wither without water/nutrient flow.

They flower long before the leaves come out. They don’t flower all that early, my plums are ahead of them. [quote=“ampersand, post:13, topic:5959, full:true”]
Could be cold damage to the bark. Buds survived but wither without water/nutrient flow.

I think that is probably what happened. The flowers on the dead areas started growing but then wilted and died, no leaves ever came out.

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