Fruit trees are hurting


I have three young fruit trees and a cherry bush. This is the first year of full fruit for plum, partial flowering cherry tree and second year full fruit cherry bush and third year full fruit for pear. Also have gooseberry, blueberry (almost died last year but seems healthy this year has a bit of fruit) blackberry, raspberry and grape all of which are healthy. (no not a huge yard, just well organized use of all available space and plan to keep the trees all ornamental size)
First question – is City of Toronto compost safe? I brought home a lot last year and am wondering if that is the source of the problems
Pear tree Rust colored patches on leaves. They end up as bumpy black spots. 2017 sprayed dormant oil in fall. Almost went away. 2018 with only a bit of a problem did not spray just stripped tree and picked up and “garbaged” all leaves in the fall. Back with a vengeance and solution so far pick spotted leaves and throw in garbage. Seems to be working. New leaves are regenerating and fewer and fewer spotted leaves appearing.
Cherry tree – spring one branch bloomed. Almost overnight two weeks later, on the branch that bloomed the leaves all wilted and turned pale yellow. Cut off branch. Last week, whole tree is wilted. No sign of disease spots on leaves. Pulled off some of worst leaves and hit with 20-20-20 fertilizer. (all leaves will be gone soon I think. Will it come back next year?)
Cherry bush – magnificent crop last year and full fruit flowering and start BUT then again what seemed like overnight the fruit shrivelled and turned black.
Plum tree – has a lot of fruit but is dropping a lot. No sign of disease just the fruits are stunted. Not sure if normal dropping and just the tree culling itself or a disease?
Cherry and plum picked up and threw out all dripped fruit.
I have “What’s Wrong with My Plant (and how do I fix it)” Deardorff & Wadsworth and the “Canadian Gardener’s Guide” Ed: Johnson, that seem to say I have one or more fungal infections.
Is there anything I should be doing now (do not like the idea of hitting fruit with chemicals). Fertilize hell out of the plants? Or should I wait until fall and douse everything including the ground with the two part dormant oil/sulphur (in a kit) sprays after picking up and discarding all the fallen leaves?


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.

You are not alone in your disappointment at seeing your fruit tree suffering, this year in particular we have seen an increase in the number of inquiries concerning diseased trees. Cherry trees are in the Prunus family along with plums. It is a massive family of plants with a large list of potential causes for leaf loss. The following information is from one of our earlier posts:

” Stone fruit trees are vunerable to infection by a variety of fungi which can spread to other trees.  Root and crown rot diseases result from a fungus-like organism that is present in most soils. It only infects the tree if the moisture level of the soil is very high, like when the tree grows in standing water.

Symptoms of rot diseases include slowed growth, discolored leaves that wilt quickly in hot weather, dieback and sudden plant death as well as buds turning brown. This is one of the worst cherry tree diseases. Once a cherry tree has a rot disease, there is no cure. However, rot diseases of cherry trees can generally be prevented by making sure the soil drains well and regulating irrigation.

You may be able to save the tree with careful pruning of debris, and applying an approved fungicidal spray but your best defense is probably to remove the tree before it spreads any further. For more in depth information here are some websites:”

You are doing all the right things when it comes to cleaning up and disposing off all the infected leaves and pruning out the infected branches.

There are a number of postings on our website concerning cherry tree diseases. This website lists all the postings.

There are also a number of postings on our website concerning Pear Trellis Rust and what can be done to control this disease.

Good Luck with your fruit trees.