Wood Chips & Disease

I’ve been looking to source some wood chips. to use as mulch around the orchard. There are tree care/removal companies which chip all the small branches (including leaves/needles) of the trees they take down (trunks and large branches become firewood). They are always looking for people who will take their chips. I called a few and they are more than willing to drop off a load, but the trees they are cutting now include juniper which is a host for apple rust.

So my question is, how much risk is there of introducing more rust into the orchard if I use these chips?


I haven’t had any disease problems and my piles look like small snowdrifts. I’ve sometimes felt that the chips kept the soil too cool too long in Z5 and retarded growth.

Harvestman has suggested that mildly allelopathic compounds might be present, even if there is no black walnut around.

I think That in the future I’ll compost my chips for a few weeks before using to stop any such thing.

I saw some studies that indicated disease issues were possible, but some recent studies debunked it. [quote=“kokopelli5A, post:3, topic:10321”]
I’ve sometimes felt that the chips kept the soil too cool
I think you’re right, but sometimes it might be a good thing, such as late freezes might have less impact if tree is more dormant from the ground not warming up.

I packed a fig in straw and held it there with these square tomato cages I have. When taking it apart this spring, the inside was considerably colder than the air temp. That was about 10 days ago. The plants are still dormant, but the figs in containers in the garage are all growing. What it does do though is buffer extreme changes, which can hurt your plants. So it looks like it’s 6 of one, and half a dozen of the other.

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Thanks. From the studies I found, they mostly talked about using chipped trees around annuals and ornamentals. Which is fine but not necessarily the same thing as using them around fruit trees.

just curious if anyone found a study specifically for orchards?

See also Mulching with infected wood . The verdict was that there’s no worry.

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/wood-chip-pathogens.pdf6 may be of particular interest.

I don’t think a lot if you have them dump it and cover it with a tarp and use it about 3 weeks after pedal fall when prime infection period is over. Most inoculum will be destroyed by the chipping process and subsequent heating of the pile, I suppose. If you are spraying your trees with Immunox I wouldn’t worry about it at all- spread the mulch any time you like.