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Plant Diseases/fruit tree infections


I have peach trees that have bark that splits and lets the sap run out like bleeding.  I have one tree left that is in 3rd summer and is doing this.  I cut one down last year because it was dying but perhaps left it to long and what ever it had spread.  I have lost several fruit trees over the years and my maples are doing this also.

Dear Jane, I apologize for the extreme lateness of this answer but I have been away from decent internet for a few days.  Unfortunately, there is no one cause for bark split on fruit trees.  It could be from sunscald, which occurs when the weather freezes during the winter, then rapidly thaws.  Sometimes this can cause splits in the bark which don't actually appear until the warm months, when they suddenly start oozing sap.  This actually sounds like what you may have.  The main issue in this condition seems to be healing the cut in the bark.  It is time consuming to do, especially if you have many cuts.  You must take a sharp knife, and cut just barely through the bark on either side of the split, about a half inch from the split.  Remove the injured bark, then disinfect the area with a 10% bleach solution.  The area should dry and heal although it will leave a bit of calloused tissue on either side as it heals.  If there are many cuts on a limb, you may opt to just cut that limb off.  Also, if the splits go around the trunk of a tree, the tree will likely die.  To prevent this condition, avoid fertilizing the tree late in the season.  You might want to check with your local county extension agent for specific fertilizing/spraying schedules for peach trees in your area.  It is most common to get the sunscald on fruit trees and maples.  Some people also paint the bottom four feet of fruit trees with white tree paint to help prevent this condition, but you don't want to do that after the splits have already occurred.  You also shouldn't cover the cuts with pruning paint, as this won't help the cuts to heal.  In addition, these cuts are often susceptible to other infections such as cankers which often encircle limbs, which should then be cut off.  Cankers will start with a small dead spot which then enlarges and spreads. You must also check to make sure you don't have borers, which may be attracted to the diseased tree and will lay eggs in the tree.  Borers also cause the weeping sap condition.  Peach tree borers look like clear winged moths as opposed to the beetle type of borer.   At any rate, I do think your condition is sunscald, so work on cutting around the split bark and disinfecting, and contact your local extension agent for any and all information they have on peach trees.  Fruit trees can be very difficult to take care of when these problems come up, but they are well worth the effort.  I do hope this information helps you, but please write back if you need further assistance or if I have confused you utterly.  This is actually a quite involved topic, and I could discuss it for quite some time, but I hope I have led you in the right direction.  Good luck, Melissa  

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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