close up of red apples on a tree

Last week, I wrote about what I feel is the most damaging fungal disease for apples and flowering crabapples – apple scab. These treatments may seem like a lot of work, but control measures for apple scab also will help with other diseases and pests.

apple blossoms

Our Master Gardener help desk gets emails mid-summer when apple trees drop many of their leaves, except for the outer 12 inches or so. The same thing can happen to our ornamental flowering crabapples. In both cases, the cause is the same – a fungal disease that infects the foliage and fruits.

Note: this is the fourth post in a series on fruit trees. Read part one.

The weather can, does, and will influence foliage disease each year, starting in the early weeks of spring. While early spring was a long time ago, many diseases are now quite visible in the home landscape.

What do lilacs, phlox, vine crops, peonies, and lawns all have in common this time of year? First clue – it is weather related. Second clue – if you touch it, it will rub off. Final clue – it looks like it came out of the kitchen pantry and you would sprinkle on your pastries, pancakes, and waffles.

By this time of year, woody plants have taken care of business, meaning the foliage already has produced the energy needed to form buds for both foliage and flowers for next year. If there is a fruit or pod containing seeds, that is nearly, if not already completed, as well. In the next few weeks, plants will get the signal that fall is on the way and begin to set up for the eventual color change and leaf drop.

This time of year, many of the messages coming into our local Master Gardener Help Desks are commonly asked questions that track with our seasonal weather. Here are a few:

Q: My lawn has looked pretty good until two weeks ago, what’s up with all the brown spots and patches now?

Master Gardener Help Desk emails have really been different this past two weeks. Our early spring challenges have left and along came the first of our summer concerns in the landscape and vegetable beds. The list turned into more than a column’s worth, so going to hit the big ones this week:

Most of us are actively cleaning up the perennial beds, vegetable garden, landscape beds and even getting our first lawn mowing out of the way because the whole yard looks better when that’s done. However, not everyone views this time of spring cleaning the same way. Entomologists, for example, are in favor of leaving the overwintering bits up, as many of our insects use that as a means of survival; while plant pathologists view that same garden debris as a source of future disease in your yard.

apples in tree

Just what do experts mean when they say to train your fruit trees? It means home orchardists should train the branches for proper tree structure; this encourages fruit production and allows the fruiting branches to support the fruit load without additional support.