Q. I have a three-year-old apricot tree in the southeast part of Las Vegas. For some reason, the leaves have dried up (have the consistency of potato chips) and it appears to be dying. It gets watered daily at 3:00 am for 2.5 hours with drip irrigation at 8 gallons per hour.
A. The problem may be daily watering if there is poor drainage. If this is the problem, you should be able to push on the tree and see if the bottom is loose in the soil or if the tree is very firmly anchored and does not move.
If the base of the trunk moves as if it is not firmly anchored then this is a root problem due to, most likely, watering too often. If the soil is continuously wet it can promote root diseases that favor very wet soils and tree roots that are weakened due to suffocation.
I would try to water every other to every third day but give it more water when you do. You can give it more water by adding a couple more emitters.
Another method is to put some vertical holes in the soil about two feet from the trunk to a depth of about two feet and backfilling these holes with gravel to improve drainage. This is called vertical mulching. You can use a posthole digger for this.
If this is not the case, then look at more exotic possibilities such as weed killers applied to the soil or drifting into your yard from your neighbor.