Young Cherry Tree Leaf Browning

Hi all,
I have stumbled across these forum from related searches and hope you all can help me out. We planted 3 bare root cherry trees about a month ago. They are all in the same general area, get the same water, etc. and all started leafing out well. Then today, I noticed one of the three looking really unhealthy, leaves drooped, brown at the tips of the leaves, leaves curling, and small light yellow/white dots on it. I’m a new user so can only post 1 photo, but picked what I hope is the most useful one.

My guess is that that was a sign of a fungus, but googling hasn’t gotten me very far. This is affecting all of the leaves the tree has. My initial thought is to apply some Neem oil to it to see if it helps with the fungus (and the other 2 do seem to have some aphids so I figured I’d treat that as well). I’m worried about doing any treatment to so young a tree, but thought Neem oil would be innocuous enough. I’m obviously worried about whatever this is killing the tree and looking for any advice on how to treat/manage and am also worried about this spreading, if it is something that can spread.

I would appreciate any wisdom/insight I can gather from this group.

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It looks like it might be powdery mildew. You might try giving us more pictures. I think as new user you can do multiple posts with one picture each. If it doesn’t work we could try to get in contact with moderators to get more of your pics into the forum.

What are the names of the cherries you have? Are they sweet or tart? What kind of soil do you have sandy, loam or clay? It is very humid where you live? Is the ground really wet from recent heavy rains.?

Here are some links to powdery mildew on cherries.

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Thanks so much for the comment. That was another thing I was wondering about. We are in Massachusetts, it has recently been wet. This is happening on a Rainier; we also have Montmorency and Lapins. This picture is the plant overall.

And then this is what the leaf buds are looking like

Where in MA? North/South Shore, Central, Berkshire?

Where did you buy the trees? Potted trees from a local store or bare root mail-ordered trees?

I would squish the aphids with your fingers. And recheck in a couple of days to see if the aphids reappear and squish them again if they do. In many cases on young trees like this that is all the control you need. Check the trees periodically when you’re out to water, weed, etc.

I would like you to post some pics of the back of the leaves up close tomorrow if you can. I looked at the back of the leaves on my freshly planted sweet cherries (which your tree is) and more mature sweet cherries for comparison purposes. I will look at them tomorrow in better light.

If it does turn out to be powdery mildew your best choice would be to spray sulfur. Sulfur works well on powdery mildew and is used by organic growers and conventional growers alike on powdery mildew due to it’s effectiveness.

My bad. You planted bare root trees. Hold off on Neem. Let’s have clearer pics of what actually happened first.

Aphids are common. Your trees are young and small. If I were you, I just squish them with my fingers.

I am not sure why one of them wilt. Not a good sign. That tree may suffer more than one issue.

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I am also in MA, central MA. I attempted to grow sweet cherries and after several years, realize that it is as difficult or more difficult than peaches. Our climate, the cold weather, the rain, the humidity, lack of strong sunlight, etc. all contribute to many challenges in growing cherries in our area.

The two sweet varieties you picked are not recommended for our area. See this article.
Local Cherries Ripe and Ready for the Table, Says UMass Amherst Expert | Office of News & Media Relations | UMass Amherst.

I still have a Black Gold standing after 10 years. Regina, Black Gold, What Gold are recommended for our area.

The rootstock on your Rainier is Mazzard. It is a full size tree that is 20 ft tall or more. You will need to control the height through serious pruning so you can net it against birds.

As for powdery mildew, please check this out and see if it fits what your tree is suffering.
Cherry Powdery Mildew | WSU Tree Fruit | Washington State University.

Hope you will post more pics.

Thanks for all of the insight so far. Totally agree that there could be a couple of issues here (not just the aphids, but also maybe a fungal infection?) Here are a couple of more pictures. The underside looks unremarkable to me.

The 2nd picture shows the yellow bits I’ve been seeing, primarily down the median and veins.

Where are you in MA? If possible, please list your zone and location in your profile. It will help people have better idea what challenges you may have.

I’m in zone 5b, Springfield, MA area

I agree with @mamuang and would go so far to say that the aphids and possibly powdery mildew are incidental to some other issue and are just showing up because the tree is weak.

Any chance you watered too much / too little?

We have had some stretches of lots of rain that, on top of whatever watering I was doing, could have resulted in a bit more than it needs. Though the other 2 cherry trees planted nearby are not showing any signs of stress.

Are leaves on this tree continue to wilt?

If so, I could think of only two issues: canker (look for oozing) and verticillium wilt (autopsy after a tree died). Both are deadly for cherry.

We are only an hour apart, our weather is similar. We got a lot of rain, too. I have a feeling that this tree may have been infected before you got it. Where did you buy these trees from?

Sorry, I do not mean to be pessimistic but sudden wilting of a cherry tree after leafing out is not a good sign.

Verticillium wilt does seem to match the symptoms I’m seeing. The leaves are all wilted (there aren’t too many and they had all wilted when I first noticed this). Also, the wood exposed at the graft site is very dark compared to the other trees, which seems to match these symptoms. Not great news, but I appreciate understanding what it is and that it’s not contagious to the other trees (right?).

I got the trees from Fedco. Fortunately, all of the other trees/bushes we got from them (the other cherries, apples, and grapes) all seem to be healthy.

If you have recommendations for treating the soil after I pull the tree out, I’d appreciate it (I read solarization). And then, @mamuang, given how close you are, if you have suggestions on fruit trees that do well here as we look to replace next spring, I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks so much for the assistance thus far.

Fedco has a warranty, right? You should contact them and let them know. They probably will replace it for you. I will say do not replace it with another sweet cherry.

As for what fruit tree we could recommend you, let’s ask you what you want to grow and eat.

Ranking from easy, little to no care are jujubes, persimmons, pawpaws
Not too much work - apples and pears
Need to spray - plums, cherries, nectarines, peaches, apricots

I grow them all but I spray.

Also, there a lot of us in MA. The closet to you could be @JinMA . He is also in the Pioneer Valley. Most of us are in the central or eastern MA.

I don’t know how to sanitize the soil. When my trees died of wilt (2 redbuds), I just did not plant another trees there. My sweet cherry died of either canker or wilt. I was not sure at the time.

It could be wilt. In any case watch the tree it may have something else wrong with it that can’t easily be identified and the tree will recover. After heavy rains where the ground stays mushy for days after the rain stops I have had trees with limp leaves that eventually recovered.

If the tree dies you could replace it with a tree next Spring. In general, BlackGold, WhiteGold, Emperor Francis and Black Tartarian are sweet cherries well suited to Eastern conditions.

Here is a thread talking about growing sweet cherries in Eastern conditions.

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How are your cherry trees ? This is my first year. Lost one to aphids. Possibly another to canker. It is a heartache.

Can I piggy back on this? I put in two sweet cherries in the spring. One looks great. This one is 15 feet away and the leaves just continue to brown like this. It’s planted in a bit of a raised bed that has what looks like purchased topsoil so I’m wondering about nutrients or chemical burn. I have watered it well.