Every year is a challenge for a tree!
The animal kingdom has evolved around the plant kingdom and leaves are predated on by mildews, blotches, insects, birds, grazing mammals and even us. Without leaves supporting the huge array of animal life dependent on them for their survival it is likely our species would not be here today. So a few aphids or caterpillars, mildews or scabs are a very natural and balanced event in the overall scheme of things. However, some things can get out of hand. Crab apples for example can suffer terribly with a fungal apple scab which can pretty much defoliate a tree and make them look miserable all season long. Malus floribunda and Malus Tshonoskii are particularly susceptible so we major on scab resistant clones such as Malus Rudolph and Evereste. Black bean aphid can easily mount up huge populations on cherries with their leaves distorted and sucked dry to shrivelling point. At this time it is all too tempting to fall back on a chemical solution to kill the pest causing the problem but beware, this sort of intervention can also wipe out predators just as easily. Ladybirds thrive on harvesting aphids but the population of the pest has to grow before the predator can react to balance out the problem.
In our experience, intervention breeds more intervention with trees so if you can leave them to their own devices so much the better. If you go in with a spray too early in the lifecycle of the pest the balance between predator and pest can never be reached and you will have a dependency on chemical control that may not helpful to the environment. This advice is all well and good until you are faced with an eyesore in your own garden so it is ultimately your judgement call!
The longest day is soon upon us and a tree’s physiological responses are already thinking of the autumn soon after this point. By September a deciduous tree is ready to jettison its leaf canopy in a few weeks anyway so it stops protecting itself from mildew attack. Looking at this from the tree’s point of view, there is little point in investing in a leaf that is due to fall off soon. With this in mind the late summer leaf canopy can look tired but there is no need to worry, it is likely it is the natural swing of things.
Each year will bring different challenges but over the long term trees will endure most things that nature can throw at them and support our ecosystem in the process.
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