What's ailing this apple tree?

This is a Fameuse (Snow) Apple tree on M111 rootstock, in its 5th leaf. The last two years it has been doing poorly. It started out great this spring, growth everywhere and lots of flowers, but has been declining since then. Several branches has lost most of their leaves elsewhere leaves are yellowing, there are some brown/black discolored areas on one of the “dying” branches, but on the other side things seem OK but not much growth.

Not sure what to make of this. Perhaps fire blight, but I did not see the typical browning/blackening new growth, although the growth never got long enough to really see that. Perhaps some other disease? There are some signs that some buds are starting to grow on the bare branches but we will see where that goes.

Any ideas as to what the cause might be, and how best to procede?

in las vegas, wood borers cause the same symptoms. Been wanting to create espaliers using apple trees, but realized it is not worth the trouble if something like this constantly threatens the branches being trained…


It looks like that tree needs a good pruning. Don’t be afraid to prune an apple tree, it will pay off.

Have you used fertilizer lately?

I did some further checking. Base looks OK, no signs of borers (they are pretty rare up here). Some of the leafless branches had peeling/discolored bark, so I did some pruning (took them off). The centers of those branches were discolored brown, so perhaps this tree has been fighting a FB infection and I just did not notice.

Anyway I took off any suspicious branches, sprayed with copper, and I will see how it does…

Thats what cidaca damage looks like. Extremely common this summer for my region. Especially on Maple trees. IF you didn’t have cicadas this summer than I have no clue.

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This is some of the Cicada damage here in Ohio.

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If it were in my orchard, I would suspect Vole damage to the roots. This can generally be verified by pushing on the trunk and giving it a tug. If it has more play than a healthy tree, the roots are badly damaged.

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Thanks for the ideas guys.

No cicadas up here, and have not seen leaves being eaten, just not leafing out. Could well be voles or gophers; I did probe and found a few tunnels where I left some “gopher food”. The main trunk is about 3" in diam and has a very tiny bit of play in it. Probably not extreme damage yet (I’ve had fruit trees that fall over from their roots being eaten). Seems odd that the root eating critters would still be at it as they usually do their damage in fall-winter, but it has been extremely dry here the last month or so.

I will need to stay on the testing and poisoning around this tree and the adjacent ones, as well as give it some extra irrigation.