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Monday, October 31, 2011

Apricot in Rock Mulch May Mean Sap

Q.  Thanks for the response to my almond question.  I saw that it actually ended up in the paper!  Good, I hope it helped some folks.  Now I need help on my apricot tree.  I notice what appears to be sap oozing from the trunk in a couple spots.  Is this normal?  Or should I be concerned? 
Readers apricot with sap and rock mulch..

A. Thank you for sending the picture.  On apricot, yes, you should be concerned.  On plum I would not be quite as concerned. 
            If you have been following my answers to questions in the newspaper than you know I am going to chastise you for putting rock around a fruit tree . This should be organic mulch, not rock mulch.
            Sap coming from a fruit tree does not always mean an insect or borer problem. Sap can also indicate stress. I am guessing but it looks like the tree is on the north side of a wall if the picture was taken in the morning. So we can probably ignore the chance of sunburn on the trunk.
            The tree is relatively young from the picture. I think we can narrow it down to three possibilities. Borers or boring insects are a possibility but they usually attack damaged wood due to sunburn.
            The other two possibilities are irrigation and how it was planted. Pull the rock mulch away from the trunk. It is possible to rot the trunk of the tree at soil level if mulch is placed directly against the trunk and the mulch is kept wet. Keep it at least 6 inches from the trunk.
Plum without borers losing sap after being pruned
            Once the rock mulch is pulled away from the trunk, next pull the soil away from the trunk.  Begin to pull soil carefully away from the trunk so that you do not damage it. Find the location where the roots begin to come from the trunk. That should be the depth at which it was planted.
            If these roots are deeper than ½ inch more than this, pull the soil away from the trunk and keep it away. Planting a fruit tree too deeply can cause a disease to begin called collar rot which can also cause sap to ooze from the trunk.
            The third thing is watering too often. Shallow, frequent irrigations can cause root dieback which can lead to stress which can lead to sap oozing from the trunk. You should not be watering daily. You should be watering deeply and less often. I hope this helps.

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