Sad Crab Apple

I planted a John Downie 3 yrs ago and the first year it was great and we had lots of fruit. the second year OK but this year the leaves came out well but got covered in a black dusty mould kind of substance and subsequently fell off or failed in some other way. We had  flowers but little or no fruit. this could have been because of a very late frost up here in the north west as some of my other apple trees had poor fruit but non had this problem with the leaves. The tree is now loosing most if not all of its leaves. Any advice would be great.

We did plant another of the same variety last year because of the above and although it is not more than 15' away has fruited well and has non of the leaf trouble.


  • Is it in a very sheltered position?

  • Thanks for those ideas and infoimage Firstly ; Joe in answer to your question not really although it is in the most sheltered part of the garden. We are on top of a rise on a very windy site. The garden floods in high rain as we have deep clay. When we first planted fruit trees the damson actually drowned. We have since moved that to the edge and it is flourishing! The crab apple is in the driest part and as I said was OK the first year.

    The black sooty mould sounds likely Buddyboy although when I did check the leaves I did not see any aphids, I will google for a picture to see if it looks the same. I will on the morrow go out and look at the branches and trunk and I think I will wash it down anyways.

    Is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening next year?


  • Well I  have had a good look at the tree and can find no black markings or mould on the trunk or branches only a few discoloured leaves. There is no evidence of any aphid activity and no stickiness on any of the leaves.

    I  have noticed a couple of discoloured leaves on my other crab apple , black circles meeting up but no difference in leaf texture. The only thing I saw was one tiny scurrying browny orange insect. I am wondering if it is actually scab?

    Is there any benefit in my getting something to spray them with now as the second crab apple produced a great unblemished crop this year and still has all its leaves?

    having trouble getting onto the RHS s ite at the moment but thanks for the link Buddyboy.

  • Hi Buddyboy, yes more like the bottom one;( that is on the one with leaves left).  I have just nipped out to have a look again at the badly affected one and that has leaves like the top and bottom. As far as I can see non of the blistering like the middle photo though? The trees have only been in for 1 and 3 years so am a little worried as I was hoping that they could be treated and recover?They still seem to be putting on growth and wonder if I introduced the problem by pruning the badly affected one at the beginning of last year. It seems to come into leaf fine to start with and the one I put in last year has just started to show a couple of affected leaves this week. Obviously I will clear away; the ground under the trees. Do you know if there is anything I can do now to reduce the damage? Also if you agree with  me that it is probably scab I will look up annual treatment to try to eradicate it.

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    I will see if my other half can take a photo of the leaf I have by me here. I have MS so can't hold the camera still enough to get a clear picture but in case I can't get one on the system for you to have a look at thank you very much for your help and I will certainly follow your advice.

  • HI Buddyboy,

    no nothing like that only the spots and with really bad ones the leaf is almost black all over.

  • Hi Buddyboy,

    thankyou for that I have made a note and will get some of the above so that I can treat  my trees in the spring. I will have a good clear up now as you suggest. You have been a great help. thankyou

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