Hi there! I live in the GTA and I have a 10 year old apricot tree. For the last two years the lower leaves have fallen off. As you move upward leaves are with insect holes. Upper canopy appears healthy.
Each year has less and less fruit as well.
What is wrong with the tree and how can I save it?
Thank-you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your concern about your apricot tree.
Like other stone fruit trees, apricots are susceptible to a number of disease and insect problems. It sounds like your tree has done very well in its first years, but may have fallen victim to one of these conditions in the past couple of years. I am including text from an article (and a link to it) on problems with the leaves of apricots. But, based on your description, I think your tree has a fungal disease called shot hole. This would account for both the leaves falling off and for the holes in the leaves. It usually attacks the bottom leaves first because the fungus splashes up from the ground onto the lower leaves. The name, shot hole disease, comes from spots that develop on the leaves and then fall out, leaving round little holes behind. The disease can also cause the leaves to drop early, as in your case. The infection can also affect the fruit, causing scabby, rough spots.
The best treatment it is to apply an appropriate fungicide during the dormant season. You should also prune off and destroy any heavily diseased branches or twigs.
Because the disease is most common in wet conditions, make sure to improve airflow around and within the tree canopy. Pruning may be required. Ensure that water does not get on the foliage when irrigating.
More information about shot hole disease can be found by following this link:
Here is some other information about problems with apricot leaves:
“Apricots and other fruit trees are deciduous, losing all of their leaves in late fall and remaining bare through the winter. So, if your tree is losing leaves at the end of the season, don’t worry, but if it happens at other times of the year, something is wrong with the health of the tree.
The most common problems affecting the health of apricot trees often show themselves in the condition of the leaves. These problems include:
- Insufficient water causes wilting and loss of leaves.
- Incorrect fertilizing results in yellowing or other discoloration of leaves.
- Shot hole disease creates holes in leaves and then causes them to drop from the tree.
- Spider mites spin fine webs on the leaves which then turn yellow and fall off.
- Hot weather can burn leaves causing them to turn yellow and fall.
Problems with the health of the tree can also affect the color and shape of the leaves, as well as causing leaves to fall off of the tree.
Preventing Problems with Apricot Trees Leaves
Apricot trees grow in areas with moderate winters and summer temperatures. Select apricot varieties best suited to your climate zone to prevent sunburn and other problems.
Stone fruits like apricots need deep watering about every 10 days to two weeks during late spring and summer months in order to produce ripe fruit and to stay healthy. Be sure trees are regularly getting watered to a soil depth of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60cm).
Many fungal problems affecting apricot trees can be prevented with the use of dormant oil spray applied to the trees in the winter. Wait until leaves have fallen, but apply the spray before winter rains using Bordeaux mixture, but do not use sulfur sprays on apricot trees.
Dusty conditions encourage spider mites, so keep dust down by planting grass near the trees and keeping it watered during hot months.
Prune and fertilize your trees carefully each year. Apply a balanced fertilizer around the base of the tree each spring, containing nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Prune the tree to remove branches and allow light to reach the center and to keep fruiting wood healthy.”
Best of luck with your apricot!