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Plum tree problem

Hi, I'm new to gardening and moved house end of last year and there is a big old plum tree in my garden. It produced a number of plums in the lower branches this summer but a lot of them went bad with what I believe is brown rot. I eventually removed them all last week and also pruned some of the branches while I was at it. I've now discovered I shouldn't have done any pruning at this time of year so hope I haven't done too much harm. The other thing I've noticed is that most of the branches at the back of the tree appear to be dead and covered with a sort of mould. From what I've read this might be lichen but I don't know if I should remove the branches or not. It's quite crowded with other tall growing shrubs at that side but they're in my neighbour's garden so not sure I can do much about that. Any advice would be appreciated. 

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  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,077
    Make sure you have removed any 'mummified' fruit as these cling to the tree and will release Brown rot spores when the tree blossoms and fruits begin to form next spring, starting the next infection cycle.  To avoid Silver leaf disease I would leave any additional pruning until you see strong new growth next year and then cut out any obviously dead branches right back to live wood, cutting just above a healthy side branch or bud.
    Lichen is harmless and common on mature fruit trees but if you can upload photos of the affected areas, it would help us to confirm identification.
    Other things to do to reduce chances of diseases next year are to rake-up and burn (or dispose with household waste - don't compost them) all of the leaves after they have fallen and then put down a mulch of a couple of inches of well-rotted manure or garden compost over the soil beneath the tree.  This will help reduce numbers of overwintering pests and diseases as well as feeding so improving the general health of the tree.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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