Do you have Eastern Red Cedar trees in your yard? Have you ever noticed anything like this hanging onto them and wondered what the heck it is?
While taking a walk around our property the other day I looked up and noticed that our Eastern Red Cedar trees had all kinds of strange brown looking things hanging from the branches. They were a deep shiny brown in color and have dimples on them like a golf ball. In fact, they sort of look like a piece of chocolate you find in a box of chocolates. Far from candy though, they are actually galls that produce Cedar Apple Rust, or Gymnosporangium as it is technically called.
So, what’s the big deal anyway? Well, if you have any apple trees, or crabapple trees, close by that have been infected with the classic tell-tale small yellowish spots on their leaves and fruit, then you can thank those small round galls hanging from your Junipers for it.
Cedar Apple Rust and apple trees are like oil and water. They don’t mix whatsoever!
So what happens to these brown thingees? Are they dangerous? Do I need to be concerned? The good news is that they are nothing for humans to really be concerned about. But if you’re an apple tree, you can begin freaking out now.
The process of Cedar Apple Rust goes like this:
At first you’ll find these brown galls growing on the ends of your Junipers needles. They basically just sit there and don’t do anything. This goes on through the Fall and Winter season. Nothing happens at all… yet.
The next Spring is when things begin to dramatically change. When the weather turns warm, humid and wet, as it does every Spring, those galls suddenly change their appearance. You’ll suddenly see large orange “goobers” hanging down. From those bright orange goobers, spores are released into the air that somehow find their way to every apple tree within four miles away.
When those spores attach to an apple tree they create all those yellow discolored spots on the leaves, as well as the apples themselves. It can easily ruin an entire apple orchard in severe cases. What may surprise you is that these spores do not do anything to other types of fruit trees, or any other trees for that matter. It’s only the apple trees. So that’s the bright side!
Is there anything that can be done to prevent this from happening? There’s a few things you can do, but nothing short of chopping down every Cedar tree on your property will completely stop it. Even that won’t work if you have neighboring Cedar trees that have these galls as well.
One thing you can do is pick them off low hanging limbs and get rid of them. Of course, if you have more than a couple of trees this may be more work than you can accomplish. We have acres and acres of Cedar trees, so this would be an impossible task.
You can also spray your apple trees with a disease fighting protectant, but there’s no guarantee it will be completely effective in preventing damage from occurring.
Fighting Mother Nature can oftentimes be fruitless so to speak. She’s going to do what she wants to do. There is one bit of good news with Cedar Apple Rust. It will not kill your Cedar trees. The galls will eventually be gone and everything will return to normal again. That is… until the next cycle begins all over again.