5.12.2013 Chlorosis

Chlorosis is the yellowing of leaves and it’s primarily caused by a nutritional deficiency.  It showed up in the apple orchard in the last couple of weeks.

Unhappy apple tree 3 choloris 2 days earlier

This is one of those trees that lost its name tag but it’s one I grafted at a workshop two years ago – either Ashmead’s Kernel or Winesap.

 

It’s in the Maris Widgeon Wheat as well.

Not maris widgeon wheat

In the foreground is a wheat plant that is different from all the others in the row. It is much taller than all the rest and is totally unaffected by the chlorosis which is yellowing all the rest of the row. Is it a Maris Widgeon mutant or a different wheat cultivar entirely. I had expected the Widgeon to be much taller since it’s used for thatcing. The mutant looks lovely and is about shoulder high. The rest of the row is just beginning to head up and is hip high at best.

 

According to what Michael Philips (aka The Apple Grower) has to say on the subject of chlorosis in apple trees, it’s either a magnesium or iron deficiency.  Considering the redness of our soil here, it’s hard to imagine an iron deficiency in the soil.  I didn’t get around to the fall fertilizer application in 2012, so it could be a magnesium issue.  Magnesium deficiency also results in sparse leafing out along the branches.  I see that here and there on a couple of apples trees and some of the peaches.

My other experimental wheat plot.  Planted last fall when not even the six foot tiller on the Kubota could crack open the soil.  Very little came up and what did is having to compete with tougher and more established plants, fescue mostly.  The wheat that is there is not affected at all by chlorosis, but the soil is very different there, concrete-like.

My other experimental wheat plot. Planted last fall when not even the six foot tiller on the Kubota could crack open the soil. Very little came up and what did is having to compete with tougher and more established plants, fescue mostly. The wheat that is there is not affected at all by chlorosis, but the soil is very different there, concrete-like.

Aside from the lack of fall fertilization, what is different this year is soil moisture.  Water-logged and spongy would best describe the apple orchard.  The garden soil, where the Maris Widgeon wheat is located is hyper-improved and drains pretty well, but I can tell you the soil is very wet in the garden and it’s been staying that way for the last couple of weeks, even under the plastic mulch.  The three peaches that are suffering most are near the bottom of slope and those three trees are just stunted and not leafing out properly, but not chlorotic.

To add to the moisture problems, some of the apple trees didn’t get planted high enough.  Settling soil and just bad planting technique on my part has several of my apples sitting in a bowl, (although not the one that is suffering the most.  That one I planted well.)  The sunken planting style  served the apple trees well during last year’s drought.  This year, it’s a liability.  I had intended to replant them last fall, but like the fertilization, that didn’t get done either.  Now they are getting too big for uprooting.

Based on what I’m reading, the excessive soil moisture is probably causing the chlorosis –  too much water is interfering with nutrient uptake.  The good news is the weather forecast indicates we are in for a run of drier weather.  The bad news is the next two nights could be a little frosty.  Mid May in central Virginia and we are anticipating frost!

This morning, I mixed up a batch of Neptune’s Harvest Fish and Seaweed emulsion in my backpack sprayer and added in some Blackstrap Molasses for iron and I sprayed – all my fruit trees, the blackberries, the vegetable garden (except the broccoli), the roses, the artichokes (I actually have a bud setting up!) and a few other things here and there.  A foliar feed should ease the chlorosis in the short term and because it stimulates cellular activity in the leaves, it actually provides a couple of degrees of frost protection.  (Or so says The Apple Grower.)

Four gallons of water in my backpack sprayer is decidedly too much weight at once.  2 ½  to 3 gallons is about the most I can schlep without discomfort.  However, four gallons did nearly everything.   Stay tuned to find out if it helped.

But the really cool thing is over half my fruit trees actually have fruit on them!  They are still very young trees, just now going into their third growing season.  I’ve thinned the fruit by at least 50% on all the trees, and will probably thin some more.  With the apples especially, I would like enough fruit to be able to put names to the trees.

Way ahead of every other tree, this is the Carolina Red June.  Maybe the apples will be ready some time in June.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

Way ahead of every other tree, this is the Carolina Red June. Maybe the apples will be ready some time in June. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

I shared at The Backyard Farming Connection Hop #32.


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