What disease are killing my Sweet Cherries?

Several of my sweet cherries are suffering from some kind of disease. I’m hoping for help Identifying what it is.
First up is a Black York on K5 rootstock. I pruned off one side that wilted and died. The remaining part of the tree is growing and very green. But this is what it looks like at the graft:

Next up is a White Gold on K6 rootstock. The entire top wilted and died. There was no gumming evident. I thought the entire tree died, but now the rootstock is suckering.

Last is a Black Heart on Mazzard root stock.
Last year, it had severe gumming around the base. I cut a lot of it out, thinking it was either a borer or bacterial canker. This year, it is gumming from some spots around the base and some branches. A few branches wilted and died, which I had already removed. Now, almost the entire top is wilting, all except the lowest branch. But it has some gumming in it.

Originally, I was thinking bacterial canker in all of these, but now I am not so sure. I did notice gumming starting on all of the trees I bought with K5 or K6 rootstock. I have one Sam on G6 rootstock that appears to be healthy. My four seedlings also appear healthy.

So is this Bacterial Canker, or something else?

I think your situation fits this Penn State article.


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So what is the best “treatment” for my infected trees? Rip them out and start over?

You ask for the best treatment. I cannot answer that. I don’t know where you live.

All I can say is growing cherry in the east coast is difficult. It requires a lot of spraying for fungicide and pesticide. If your cherry tree survives that, you have to deal with birds and other animals to steal your fruit,

The final product is not as good as store bought cherries, IMHO.

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I have Utah Giant as grafts and I like them better than store bought. I agree though most are not as good. The NY cultivars might be though?
It’s probably canker and yes Gisela is the most resistant, and the K5 ans 6 probably the worst. I don’t know of any treatment that works? Maybe the universities do? See what they say. My tree has it too, but it is mild, and does fine. I live in an area where it is easier to grow them for whatever reason? I still lost trees to canker though.

If you start over it will happen again. Kocide copper while dormant is the only treatment that may keep it in check, or may not. Sorry no good treatment options. I spray mine with Kocide once a year and also sulfur once a year both times when dormant Sulfur in late fall and copper in late winter. I hit the base, rootstock and all cankers hard. It seemed to have worked well with peaches which can get it too.
Try to stick with Gisela.

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Glad Utah Giant works for you. I still wait for it. This year, brown rot took about 60-70% of baby cherries. This with Kocide 300 at dormancy, and a couple of Indar after fruit set.

You are fortunate to be in a cherry friendly growing area. Move to the east coast and you would understand the challenges we are facing.:laughing:

Yes for those trees just try again. I would treat any pruning cuts going forward given the bad luck you had up to now.

I had to remove one cherry this year and removed one last year. Those are the only ones of a couple dozen trees in 20 years so not that bad overall.

@mamuang, Indar has been working well for me on my cherries, no rot at all this year. I am combining it with Elevate, maybe that is helping. I do agree on store cherries, no big advantage there. I appreciate my sours the most as they are not found in stores.


I would ike to grow good sweet cherries but I gave up. I’m hoping to have better luck with romance series bush cherries although last year the constant rain resulted in rotted cherries. This year I sprayed with a fungicide.

Are there any rootstock I should try besides G6? What about Colt or Maxma 14?

For added information…I’m located in Central Virginia with it’s clay soils and hot humid summers, but I am in zone 6b and get a cold winter wind at my site.

I think Gisela 12 and Maxma 14 are worth consideration if your looking for alternate rootstocks.

You probably want to look at this article. It talks about rootstocks used by commercial growers in the Pacific Northwest. It covers the advantages and disadvantages of the different rootstocks. On this forum some people feel that Krymsk 5 is less canker resistant than Gisela 6. In the article, canker resistance is rated for multiple rootstocks. They believe Krymsk 5 is more resistant than Gisela 6 when it comes to canker. So I think it would be a good idea to give the article a look.

Another thing you might explore is planting new trees in a berm or raised bed and if you can spacing them away from trees you believe are infected. Heavy clay soil is hard on sweet cherry trees especially if drainage is poor. The soil conditions might be weakening the tree and making it more vulnerable to canker. It’s also possible that you have some disease issue that isn’t canker. I say this because Black York is rated as resistant to canker in a trial in an Eastern US location. Also the gummy resin can be caused by other things besides bacterial canker.

Here is a link on gumming in general:

More on bacterial canker including rootstock resistance:

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Where did you buy Elevate?
You are way more experienced and have taken better care of your trees than I do.

When I first sprayed stone fruit with Indar 3 years ago. Only 2 sprays and it stopped brown rot.

Last year, it took 3 sprays.

This year, I sprayed twice already (first at petal fall and another 8 days later). Then, I saw all these rotted fruit.

My guess is that my cherries got brown rot blossom blight during bloom time. We had so much rain during bloom time this year.

Next year I need to spray fungicide pre bloom.


Another article on cherry canker in the Northwest and how to manage it.
Here is a portion of the article dealing with rootstocks.

“Rootstock significantly affects cultivar
susceptibility to bacterial canker. Death of trees on
Mazzard was 30% but was 77% when trees were on
Gisela 6 rootstock. While no Bing on Colt rootstock
died, mortality of Bing on Gisela 6 was 90% in
one study. Trees on Gisela rootstocks have shown
increased susceptibility in field observations. Bing
on Krymsk 5 had smaller heading cut cankers than
trees on Mazzard or Gisela 6, and 43% of trees died
on Krymsk 5 compared with 50% on Mazzard.”

Article link:


Like the OP I have had bad luck with Krymsk, Looks like it is a good one. I was thinking of their virus susceptibility, mistaken it was canker. I think cherry viruses are more an issue here. I will have to try them again sometime. .

Read all the articles…Doesn’t seem to be a good answer. I think I will see if I can find a white gold on colt to see how it does in my area. I haven’t seen any cherry trees for sale on Gisela 12 and Maxma 14, but I’ll look at for those as well.

Anyone had any luck with Colt in the Mid Atlantic region?

I have no direct experience with Colt. One Green World carries trees on Colt rootstock. They also have sold Maxma 14 rootstock but I am not sure if they have sold finished trees on it.

Grandpa’s Orchard carries trees on Maxma 14 sometimes. Cummins Nursery sometimes carries trees on Gisela 12. You will probably have to do some searching in the Fall to find what you want… finding sweet cherries on the rootstock you want can be hit or miss.

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This time of the year is late for online ordering. Wait until the fall. I got my sweet cherries on Gisela 5 from Raintree. I like Gisela rootstocks for cherries. Had one on Krymsk 1 that died after a year.

Mine were somewhat better than most storebought cherries but worse than the better quality storebought, but this was also the first year I had anything resembling a yield so I can’t say it is consistent.

The weather here was odd, so rot/stunted fruit may well be worse in the future.

Tippy that is a strange thing going on there with your cherry… It doesn’t look like brown rot. I get some cherries that are dropping (June drop, a self-thinning kind of thing) that can get like that but never that many.

I got my Elevate from Keystone I think. It is not the most effective overall but it was the cheapest thing not in the Indar resistance group.

Right after I took that picture, I picked off as many such cherries off. They came off easily as they were about to fall off anyway. I don’t know what caused it. I thought it was brown rot. Some of those cherries were black with brown rot spores in them.

I think @BobVance just posted a similar pic of his cherries recently.
I don’t know what caused these cherries to turn yellow, then brown and fall off. I would say I lost over 70% of Black Gold this year. Not many left.

I sprayed Surround and Indar again afterward.

By the way, instead of Elevate, I may just use chlorothalonil instead.

I think the one has a 60-day PHI, up to shuck split is all you can do with it. I never use it for that reason.