Leaf tips on my apple trees are dying? And the apples are turning dark brown. I cut off all the dying tips but it just continues on other branches. It’s been about three weeks now since I first noticed it. Can you please suggest what I should do? I attached two photos thank you.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
Among the most serious and common diseases of apple trees is fire blight, a bacterial disease caused by Erwinia amylovora. The first symptoms of fire blight may go unnoticed but include a tan ooze that seeps from cankers on branches and trunks. The disease often attacks open flowers first, which results in brown flowers and stems. Following this, the leaves turn brown and then black and remain on the tree throughout the dormant season. The name “fire blight” is from the scorched appearance of the leaves of infected trees.
When a tree has fire blight it effects new growth and causes the branches to die and the leaves to shrivel up. The end of the branch has a characteristic “shepherd’s crook” appearance so the end of the effected branches curl down which it appears to be the case in your photo.
If this is indeed what you have your main concern will be to protect any other other apple or crabapple trees which you might have that are not infected at the moment as this is highly contagious. When cleaning up your infected tree good sanitation is important. Remove branches and bag the branches and remove them from the yard so the bacterium can not travel to the healthy trees. Make sure your tools are clean and sterilize them afterwards so you do not pass on the infection when you use your tools next.
The bulletin of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs referenced below, describes, illustrates with photographs, and finally discusses monitoring and management of the infected tree.
We wish you well in saving your tree.