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Monday, October 29, 2012

Sap From Apricot Trunk MIght Not Be Borers

Orange sap oozing from readers apricot trunk
Q. Our apricot tree has orange sap oozing out of the trunk in several places (see pictures attached).  The tree appears to be healthy and produce a good crop of tasty apricots this past season.  In some places, the sap appears to be coming out of the crevasses in the trunk bark.  In other areas, it appears to be coming out of holes in the bark (borers?).  What can I do to save this tree?  Is there an insecticide or fungicide that I can use?  For the areas where the sap is coming out of the crevasses, should I scrape the sap off and paint the tree again?  For the couple of areas where it appears that the sap is coming out of holes in the bark, can I insert a thin strong wire to kill the borer?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A. This is a little bit more unusual in apricot than it is in peach or nectarine. It is most likely in this case a boring insect, the same type that attacks many of our other fruit trees and landscape trees and in particular peach and nectarine the hardest.
Readers apricot tree in very good condition except for
the orange sap from the trunk.

Of all the places for sap to emerge this is probably the worst. If the damage to the majority of the trunk you could lose the tree. If this were me I would take a sharpened and sterilized knife (alcohol is good enough or heat) and cut under the sap and examine the wood directly under it.

If the wood appears healthy (you see some green or it appears fresh and wet) I would stop and not do any more. If it is not fresh and damp with a healthy appearance but instead dead, then I would cut these bubbles of sap from the tree trunk and remove all dead areas until you find fresh wood again.

Make the border of this dead area as smooth as you can so it heals as quickly as possible. If the dead area of the trunk (if it is there) extends more than half way around the trunk the tree is in big trouble. Hopefully the sap is coming from the trunk as a sign of stress and not extensive damage to the trunk.

If you can find something to put between the tree trunk damage and the sun (I am assuming these sap bubbles are on the south, west or east side) and create a bit of shade on the trunk it would be good. Try not to put anything tight against the trunk so it does not trap heat on that spot.

This is kind of unusual to see damage like this on apricot in that location. I am wondering of you have another problem going on. You have a basin around the tree and some mulch right up to the trunk. I also see you still have your support stakes on the tree. This is an older tree and these should have been removed a long time ago if there was nothing wrong with the tree.

The tree looks very healthy and is vigorously growing. I would pull any mulch away from the trunk perhaps 12 inches if it is in fact touching the trunk. I would also make sure that you are watering so that even in summer you are not watering daily but there are several days between irrigations when the soil around the tree begins to dry. This kind of damage can also indicate the beginning of crown or root rot as well. So be very careful of your watering.

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