By: Mary Ellen Ellis
Cherries with rugose mosaic virus are unfortunately untreatable. The disease causes damage to leaves and reduces the yield of fruit, and there is no chemical treatment for it. Know the signs of rugose mosaic if you have cherry trees so you can remove diseased trees and prevent disease spread as soon as possible.
Cherries with rugose mosaic virus are infected by strains of Prunus necrotic ringspot virus. Pollen and seeds of the cherry tree carry the virus and spread it from one tree to another throughout an orchard or home garden.
Grafting with a diseased tree can also spread the virus. Thrips that feed on the trees may carry the virus from tree to tree, but that has not been confirmed. Rugose mosaic symptoms in cherry trees include:
If you’re wondering how to treat rugose mosaic disease in your cherry trees, unfortunately the answer is that you cannot. You can manage this disease, though, and prevent its spread. The best way to manage it is to avoid the disease in the first place. Use cherry trees with rootstock that has been certified as disease-free.
To manage the disease if you see signs of it, remove the affected trees as soon as possible. This is the only surefire way to get the disease out of your orchard or garden. You can also keep weeds and cover on the ground well-mowed to prevent the buildup of a thrip population, but this many only have a minimal effect on preventing the spread of the virus.
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Perhaps the most prolific cherry disease that causes curling leaves is the one with this descriptive symptom in its name – cherry leaf curl disease. The causal agent for this disease is a fungal pathogen, Taphrina cerasi. An unmistakable symptom of cherry leaf curl is the appearance of “witches’ brooms” on branches. A proliferation of non-fruit-bearing shoots appears on branch tips, generally fan-shaped, which gives the appearance of a broom.
Distorted leaves, many of which are curled, and a white fungal growth on the undersides of leaves are other symptoms of this disease. Once you spot the telltale disease symptoms, fungicides cannot cure the disease. Prune out the broom-like structures, well below where their growth begins, and apply a fungicidal dressing, which you can purchase online or at your local garden center, to the cut surfaces. Instead of letting the infected branches lie where they fall or tossing them into your compost pile, it’s better to burn them.