This time of year, everybody loves their Flowering Crabapple trees. Fully adorned in colorful bloom, what's not to love? (Insert collective sigh here) In a few weeks however, it will be just another tree in the yard, and by the middle of summer, when leaves are spotting and turning yellow and littering the lawn, my phone starts to ring. Homeowners, once smitten with the spring spectacle of splendor, now echo in unison the same panicked question.
What's wrong with my Flowering Crab trees? They're dropping leaves everywhere!
If you're paying close attention, you should be wondering why I bring this up now, in April. Here's the reason. It needs treated now. The culprit that makes your Flowering Crab trees look so bad in July or August is Apple Scab. Apple Scab is a fungus disease that affects the leaves of your Flowering Crabapple trees. Fungus diseases, in general, need to be treated to prevent them. Once you start to see the effects of Apple Scab in July or August, it's too late to do anything about it for this year. Apple Scab is stubborn, and it is rampant in Northwest Indiana . Cool, wet spring weather is prime condition for Apple Scab and most other fungus diseases. If you feel ambitious, and don't mind tackling something like this yourself, products to treat Apple Scab from Ortho and Bayer Advanced are available at most home centers in the lawn & garden area.
Three treatments at 2-3 week intervals are required to control this pesky disease. It also may take more than one year to get rid of Apple Scab, so be ready for the possibility of treatment again next year. If your neighbors have Flowering Crabapple trees, talk to them about treating their trees as well. If they don't, their trees could re-infect your trees next year. Here is another important tip. When the leaves begin to fall this autumn, clean them up quickly. Don't leave them there for even a couple days. Apple Scab survives the winter in the ground. By quickly cleaning up infected leaves, the fungus doesn't have as much time to migrate back into the ground to re-infect next year. Remember what your mother said about cleanliness? It will certainly help in this case.
For qualified professionals to treat Apple Scab, check the yellow pages, or contact me for a referral. Periodically, I will be doing “How-to” clinics at the local Lowe's stores, so check the “Out & About” calendar of events inside this section of the paper for times and dates. Next month, we'll tackle “ Northwest Indiana 's worst tree care practice.”
Russell Hodge is a Certified Arborist and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.