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Apples are my favorite fruits of all time and I bet they are yours. If they are also a favorite to you, then you’d agree with me that the goodness embedded in a single apple bite is enough to
fill your mouth with just the right ingredient for your taste bud to munch on for a while, as well as keep the doctor away for a day.
Well, if you did not know until now, apple trees are susceptible to a variety of diseases, that contribute to the mortality of apple trees at a fast-rising pace.
If these diseases are not controlled, it is only a while before the only apples and apple trees we will ever know about would be from movies, documentaries, and stories of the past.
Apples are popular for their demand in civilized settings and how much of an appetizer they are.
But, do you know there are wilder forms of apple that exist in the wild? Something a little different from the ones you buy from supermarkets when you go to get groceries. Well, now you know.
Apples are gotten from apple trees cultivated all over the world. Apple trees are native to Asia, and originated as a wild species, harvested and cultivated by Asian ancestors.
The oldest apple forms, that is, the wild apple versions can still be found in central Asia and still grows just well.
Apples have been grown around the world for almost a thousand years now, and they have grown to occupy a place of significance in various traditional and religious rites.
Over the years, scientists have discovered over 2500 known apple cultivars, each of which are cultivated for various uses.
The variety of cultivars that exist is dependent on how the apples were propagated and what the apples are intended to do.
Cultivation and propagation of apples can be done sexually by seeds or asexually by rootstock grafting.
The most preferred form of propagation is asexually by grafting. This is because apples tend to greatly vary from the parent plant when they are cultivated by seed.
They vary in terms of size, color, and taste. For a farmer who wants plants of the same taste and color, the propagation using asexual methods is usually the most preferred.
As much as they vary in structural complexities, apple trees also vary in their time of maturation and fruiting.
This is such that some apple fruits on the same tree ripen long before others do. Apples are unique in their inability to self-pollinate.
Therefore apple flowers attract and require pollinating insects to pollinate them, making them a good source of nectar for insects.
Apples have uses that include raw consumption as a food, fruit, or snack, apples are also used in the making of juice, sliced raw and added into salads, mashed and baked into sauces, used in making pie, and for cider making.
However, apples are also susceptible to a list of pests and diseases that need to be controlled to get the best off an apple tree.
Some of these pests and diseases do not have too much risk to the apple trees, while some of them can destroy an apple tree within months of uncontrolled infestation.
I know what it means to lose such an important tree to infestation by diseases. This is why I have put up this article to save you from the reality of having to watch your apple tree decline daily until what’s left of it are the good memories and tastes you had.
Dive into this article to learn how to control, treat and prevent common apple diseases.
Common Apple Diseases
Apple trees are susceptible to a variety of diseases. These diseases are caused by both fungi, bacteria, and certain pests.
To properly identify apple diseases, it is necessary to classify these diseases based on their causal factors.
This will help you easily identify the disease your apple plant is currently struggling with and take precautions to treat or prevent the reoccurrence of the disease.
We can classify apple diseases into the following:
- Bacterial Diseases
- Fungal and water mold Diseases
- Viral Diseases
- Physiological Disorders.
Each of these disease categories comprises one or more diseases that affect apple plants and try to reduce their lifespan.
For example, the bacterial diseases of apple plants include crown gall and fire blight.
There are also a lot of fungal and water mold apple plant diseases that generally affect the normal functionality of apple plants and reduce the overall crop yield.
These categories of diseases are explained succinctly in the proceeding paragraphs.
1. Bacterial Diseases
As I stated in the previous paragraph, bacterial diseases of apple plants include crown gall and fire blight.
Crown gall is an apple plant condition caused by the rhizobium Rhizogenes bacteria. These bacteria species are found all over the world and attack every apple cultivar.
The presence of this bacteria in apple plants has effects that can be likened to cancer in humans.
It affects plants by genetically re-engineering plants’ DNA, such that plants begin to develop a tumor-like gall.
Crown gall in apples is also caused by aphids, but there is a huge difference between the aphid-caused crown gall and the bacterial-caused crown gall.
The bacteria caused by crown gall is more fatal and can quickly spread like cancerous cells, leading to the death of the branch where it develops and eventually brings about the death of the entire apple tree.
The fire blight disease is caused by the Erwinia Amylovora bacteria. This disease makes the leaf tips of the apple plant look crusted and burn like it just got out of some fire.
New stems and apple plant shoots are the most susceptible parts of the plant, from there the disease moves to other parts of the apple tree.
Environmental temperature determines greatly, how these diseases spread.
In humid and rainy weather conditions, there is a higher risk of contamination and spread of fire blight diseases, than in temperate hot weather conditions.
2. Fungal and Water Mold Diseases
The fungal and water mold diseases are caused by fungi as the name implies. Not just fungi, water molds are also a risk factor to apple plants.
The reason is that apple plants are susceptible to fungal and mold growth when they are overwatered and waterlogged.
They do not show any form of resistance to the infestation of molds and fungi, as long as they are waterlogged and drowning in their roots.
Fungi diseases do not hesitate in infesting waterlogged trees. Fungi thrive in moist and waterlogged soil conditions.
This, therefore, means that by overwatering your apple tree, you are simply calling for fungal infestation.
Fungal diseases of apple trees include anthracnose canker, bull’s eye rot, apple scab, armillaria root rot, frog eye leaf spot, frog eye black rot, phytophthora crown rot, phytophthora collar rot, phytophthora root rot, powdery mildew, rust, flyspeck, white rot, and southern blight.
Quite a lot of fungal and mold infections. This, therefore, insinuates that your apple plants are at a greater risk of getting a fungal infection now and then.
Anthracnose canker fungal disease is a general apple plant problem experienced by farmers all over the world.
It is caused by the Neofabraea fungi and leads to what is known as bulls-eye rot. This disease is a dangerous one to apple trees and orchards as there have been cases of this disease destroying entire apple orchards.
Anthracnose canker is a subtle one that affects plants and stays undetected until after harvest. Therefore, control should come in before harvest or autumn.
There should be a form of preemptive control, even without seeing symptoms of anthracnose, gardeners should carry out control measures on apple plants to keep these fungal diseases out.
In the case of anthracnose, you can never be too careful. Apple scabs are another fungal disease.
It is caused by Venturia inaequalis fungi and manifests as small blights on the leaves of apple plants.
Apple scab affects leaves and can bring about total loss of leaves from an apple tree. Once leaves are destroyed, apple trees can no longer carry out other necessary functions like photosynthesis.
This leaves the plant weak and susceptible to other infections. There is a need to take both precautionary steps and control measures against every firm of fungal diseases on your apple plants.
This is necessary if you still want to have apple trees around.
3. Viral Diseases
As is common to all viruses, apple plant viral diseases do not have any known cure. Infected plants will try to live for a while, but, will eventually die off.
The best way to keep viral diseases off in your apple orchard is to use rootstocks and seeds that are free from viral diseases.
Viral diseases of apple plants include the cherry rasp leaf virus, tobacco ringspot virus, and tomato ringspot virus.
Cherry rasp leaf virus is caused by nematodes that crawl slowly. Slow movement means slow infestation of these diseases.
The effect of the cherry rasp viral disease on your apple plant is the flattening of the upper and lower sides of your apple fruit.
There can also develop little lesions on plant leaves
4. Physiological disorder
Do you still remember the basic definition of a disease? “A disease is anything that alters the normal health condition of an organism” if you still remember this definition, then you can easily understand why the physiological disorder is listed as one of the diseases of apple plants.
Physiological disorders are not caused by an organism like the case of viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases.
They are instead caused by a physiological imbalance in the apple plant’s condition of growth.
A physiological imbalance like pH disorder and inadequate sunlight. The diseases that come to apple plants due to physiological disorders include bitter pit, chlorosis, cork spot and sunscald.
Bitter pit is the bitter taste an apple fruit develops after harvest. Have you ever eaten an apple that had a bitter taste, rather than the usual sweetness?
It is because the apple plant had the bitter pit disease. Bitter pit disease does not show until after harvest.
It is caused by the abnormal over-concentration of calcium on the leaves rather than the fruit. Chlorosis is a condition that occurs in plants that lack chlorophyll. It is the yellow coloration of apple tree leaves.
Chlorosis can be caused by insects like aphids that suck the chlorophyll off the leaves. A Cork spot is caused by an inadequate ph level of the soil where you have your apple plants growing.
A[pple plants generally require a ph level that is acidic and fairly alkaline. Something lower would lead to the development of cork spot diseases on the plant.
How To Treat and Prevent Apple Diseases
You can treat and prevent apple plant diseases by the following:
- The practice of good hygiene in your garden.
Do not leave debris poorly disposed of in the garden, as they could turn to breeding grounds for diseases.
- Use sterilized shearing equipment and sterilize your garden equipment regularly to rid them of any disease that must have lodged on them.
- Make it a practice to water the tree only when due, with the right amount of water.
- Employ the use of pesticides and fungicides to keep away insects that constitute vectors to these diseases, as well as treat fungal diseases that are already growing on the roots and stem of the plants.
- Use the right soil with the right ph level to grow your apple seeds or rootstock.
Ensure to carry out ph tests on every potting mix.
- Regularly apply fertilizer to the soil to make up for lost nutrients
- Prune infected parts and dispose of the pruned stem properly to avoid re-infestation.
So far, you can agree with me that your nutritious apples are faced with the challenge of being susceptible to diseases.
This means that you need to put in efforts as a gardener to carefully check that these diseases do not thrive on your apple trees.
You’ve got all to gain and nothing to lose by having an orchard, growing with healthy apple trees free from pests and diseases.