This year, for the first time, we decided to spray our apple trees for fungus and insects. Hope triumphing over experience, we wanted to bite into a worm-free apple of our own.
So, really ironic, this is the first year we’ve had apple leaf rust.
Rust has affected all varieties of apples except the honey crisps–which are supposed to be difficult to grow. Go figure.
Thinking about my apple orchard led me to remember my mom’s orchard in New Jersey. There, a sapling in the ground grows into a tree, no muss, no fuss. At least it used to be that way. Here in Kansas, everything, and especially fruit trees, need a lot of tender loving care.
Even then, it’s a crap shoot.
Looking for information on leaf rust led me to the University of Illinois Extension. There I learned that the problem probably had to do with my red cedars, scientific name Juniperus virginiana, The cedars have galls, especially during rainy weather. The galls swell up and produce telial horns (nasty description including the word gelatinous). These release spores that attack susceptible trees. Rainy weather seems to be the key, and we’ve had twice as much rain as average.
This little lovely is a red cedar. It volunteered several years ago, and grows within feet of my apple trees, forming part of the apple allee. My first thought, after reading the University of Illinois article was to cut this tree down. But no, it won’t make a difference. Looks like those spores can travel up to fourteen miles. Our area is loaded with Juniperus virginiana.
Spraying for fungus, evidently, offers only partial success. On a year like the one we’re having, leaf rust is the guarantee.
Maybe next year will be better.