The Decline and Death of Cherry Trees

The heavy rainfall in 1993 has taken a heavy toll on cherry trees in Iowa. Last year's frequent rains kept the soil saturated through much of the growing season and deprived the roots of the cherry trees of oxygen. Stressed cherry trees lost their leaves in mid-summer. Some of these trees weakly leafed out again in late summer. This spring many of the cherry trees are not leafing out and are obviously dead. Others have a few small leaves. These weak trees have been severely damaged and most will probably not survive. Unfortunately, there is little the home gardener can do to help these weak trees. Gardeners may want to give their cherry trees one or two months to see if they show signs of recovery. Trees that remain weak or decline will need to be replaced. Plums, peaches, and apples have also suffered some damage, but to a lesser degree.

If gardeners do decide to replace their dead or dying cherry trees, choose a well-drained site. Cherry trees do not like wet, poorly drained soils or "wet feet." Hopefully, Iowans will not see a repeat of the heavy rains and disastrous flooding of 1993 for many, many years.

This article originally appeared in the May 18, 1994 issue, p. 74.

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