Magazine article American Forests

Tree Doctor by the Davey Expert Tree Co

Magazine article American Forests

Tree Doctor by the Davey Expert Tree Co

Article excerpt

Trees Dropping Fruit

Q: This is the first year that my Johnny Appleseed tree is bearing fruit. Is it common for the fruit to fall off prematurely, or is there something else going on with the tree that I need to address? There are some "rust spots" on some of the leaves, but I have not found any insects. I'm worried that all the apples are going to fall off before they mature. Do you have any suggestions?

--Annette Cummings

A: Your Johnny Appleseed tree (and most fruit trees) will drop some fruit if it has too many to support. By self-thinning, the tree is concentrating its resources to ensure that it can take some to maturity. As for the rust spots on the leaves, that's a condition that can be controlled by a spray applied in the spring. It's too late to spray now, but you might put that on your calendar for next spring.

Walnuts & Water Systems

Q: We have a black walnut that has been in our yard for many years. Are the nuts safe to eat? If so, do we need to do anything special to remove the outside covering?

Also, can you recommend a tree or trees that would be safe to plant near a septic system? Do you have any suggestions for trees with a tap root, since they should pose less of a problem?

--Pat Howell

A: The black walnuts are safe to eat, but it is a messy process. The outer covering must be removed; handling it will stain your hands with a difficult-to-remove and long-lasting dark color, so gloves may be a good idea. The inner, harder shell must be cracked to get at the meat. Yield of meat per nut is relatively small for the amount of work required to extract it.

As for your second question, we can offer a list of trees NOT to plant near a septic system. AVOID planting silver maple, willow, tree of heaven, alder, mulberry, poplar, black locust or elm. In the juvenile form, nut trees (oak, hickory, walnut, etc.) have tap roots, but after about 7-10 years the tap evolves. Essentially, no tree that is more than 10 years old will have a tap root.

Foamy Trees?

Q: When it rains, my pine tree has what looks like soap or foam on it. Is this harmful for the tree?

--Ruth Anderson


A: The foam on your pine tree is probably from spittle bugs. They live in a nest of foam "bubbles," and when rain washes the bubbles away, they try to restore it. Spittle bugs are fairly easy to get rid of you can wash them off with a strong stream of water. They will keep trying to recreate their bubbles to hide in, but eventually they will be unable to keep up and will fall to the ground. …

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