Fruit cocktail tree had a rough year!

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

So here comes little ol' me, the newbie at home fruit tree grower again, lol. ;)

This post concerns my Dwarf "5 in 1" fruit cocktail tree, basically all stone fruit type varieties grafted onto one dwarf stock.

I will say that this thing did pretty great towards the start of the year (in the first photo). Although i only had 2 grafts to take, the others remained dormant.

Growth continued to progress well as summer pressed on. (in the second photo). as you can see i planted it in the middle of my small garden bed, where there's a little bit of everything growing. That corn is on the northern side of the tree, so no light blockage. I circled the tree to help you pick it out since everything is so green. :) Although i will be moving my entire garden in the spring to another location and just leave the peach tree where it is, so that will give it more room later on.

THEN we went into a really wet part of the year, where it rained, and rained, and rained some more (did i mention it rained a lot?). and im sure that this is where the problems started. I began noticing a thin sooty type of covering on the smaller graft (appears to be peach maybe), and little black speckles all over, reminds me of ground black pepper flakes. It seems to be easily wiped off, but only to come back slowly over time. (the third photo). Now that i think of it this same stuff was on the underside of my watermelons where they were sitting on the ground.

After the freakish monsoon season, we went into a crazy hot and dry spell, and that lead to spider mites infesting the darned tree, of course by the time i discovered it the damage had been done, i did give it a dose of horticultural soap anyways, it seemed to wipe the mites out at least. a few days ago we had a really heavy thunderstorm to come through, i mean REALLY heavy rain and huge rain drops. and that lead to the defoliation of quite a good portion of the leaves (the last photo).

So now that i have revealed how novice i am at this (and how long winded i am, lol), i would love some advice from you guys about how to keep this from happening again next year. Im pretty sure that the stress it went through this year will set my wait time until fruiting back by a couple years.

This message was edited Aug 30, 2016 6:52 PM

Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987 Thumbnail by jmc1987
Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Sorry no-one got around to answering this sooner.
Make sure the surrounding area does not drain towards the tree - you don't want it in low wet spot. Mulch around the tree with something like cedar - that should help keep mold spores from getting splashed from the ground onto the foliage. Leave a gap of a few inches between the tree & the mulch - you do not want to encourage rodents to hide under the mulch while gnawing on the trunk.

Sometimes you just have a bad year. Next year may be better even if you do not do anything different.

This message was edited Nov 6, 2016 10:38 AM

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

thanks for the reply, you may be right about next year being better, as one of the grafts nearly grew to be as tall as i was just in this year alone, lol. Thankfully the entire back yard is one big gentle slope, so what drains towards the tree usually doesnt stay there long, only long enough to give it a drink. I had been thinking of making taking some of that black gutter plastic and making a protection for the trunk just for this one season, because i have definitely seen voles in our yard and they typically like to get into the garden come early spring (lost an entire coneflower plant and an entire ballon flower plant to those little demons back in this spring!)

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Protecting the trunk, especially in winter, is a good idea. Keeping the sun off the trunk and decreasing water in winter help prevent "frost crack" - the trunk can get too warm during the day, start running sap, then freeze solid at night and crack.
I don't have voles, I have rabbits - and they are much more destructive in the winter when food is scarce. I assume voles would be the same

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