Gummosis is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of any tree gardener or horticulturist. It is one of the worst conditions that our trees can suffer but, fortunately, it is not always fatal and there are ways to combat and overcome it.
If you have already seen any symptoms in your woody plants such as shrubs and trees or simply want to learn more about this disease, join us in this EcologíaVerde article in which we talk about what is gummosis, its treatment and how to avoid it.
What is gummosis – a symptom of tree problems
To begin with, it must be specified that, despite what has been said above, gummosis is not a disease in itself, but a symptom. It consists in that the tree produces gummy amber secretions, which can arise directly from the bark or from some wounds in it. This rubbery material is soft at first, but eventually dries out and hardens with exposure to wind and weather. Gummosis prevents proper circulation of the sap, and will cause different parts of the plant to begin to dry out. In addition, trees affected by gummosis produce very small and undeveloped fruits, which end up falling prematurely.
Gum clusters are not always visible and it may be the case that a tree is secreting them below ground level, so in these cases we would only appreciate the rest of the symptoms: spoiled fruits and wilting of some parts.
This is a particularly troublesome condition in fruit trees, which can cause great losses in plantations such as citrus. Find out more about citrus pests and diseases and their control in this other EcologíaVerde article.
Causes of gummosis in trees
There are many causes that can produce gummosis in a tree, since this is, after all, an emergency measure that the tree takes to protect itself, sacrificing some of its parts and nutrients. To give an easy-to-understand example, gummosis is for trees what fever is for us: not a disease but a symptom in the fight against an illness or disease. Among the main causes are:
- One of the most common is root asphyxia due to excess watering. When a plant is watered too abundantly, or when the soil does not have good drainage, the water pools and prevents the roots from absorbing the oxygen the plant needs. This is particularly dangerous in summer, when plants are most stressed and need the most oxygen.
- It can also be due to a fungal infection, either because there is too much humidity or because of having carried out pruning with undisinfected tools. For this type of thing it is vital to always disinfect our gardening tools before and after use.
- Lastly, some borer insects They can also be the cause of gummosis, since they injure the tree by burying themselves under its bark.
If the tree is already showing symptoms of gummosis, there are some measures you can put in place to try to cure it. Follow these tips from tree gum disease treatmentdepending on the origin of the problem:
- Take a knife or similar tool, disinfect it and carefully remove the area of dark sap turned into rubber or hardened. Then, apply healing paste to the affected area, repeating this process every two weeks, until the tree stops producing the gummy secretions and the symptoms stop.
- If the problem is a fungal attack, it will be necessary apply fungicide, in the same way as insecticide or pesticide if the attack is from boring insects. In the latter case, you should be able to see the small holes once you remove the gummy substance.
If you need to apply a fungicide on your tree, we recommend that you use a natural one. Here are some recipes for homemade fungicides for fruit trees. In the case of insects, we recommend this other post on How to make natural insecticides for plants.
How to prevent gummosis in plants
The best, without a doubt, is prevention rather than cure. Taking the appropriate measures will save us scares with our plants, and the possible loss of some of them. Also keep in mind that gummosis can also affect woody shrubs, not just trees. In any case, these are the measures to take into account to prevent gummosis:
- Do not water more than necessary. Especially in summer, which is when it is easier for root suffocation to occur. It is preferable that you water more often than that you flood the entire field once every X days.
- ensures a good drainage. If your soil takes more than 15 minutes to absorb water after watering, you have a drainage problem. Remove the earth, add organic matter or even provide soil of a suitable composition. Unfortunately, this is not an easy or convenient problem to solve, but a well-draining soil is necessary for a large number of plants.
- Always disinfect your tools. Pruning done with unsanitized tools can spread the problem to all the plants you work on later. Don’t save on disinfectant.
- apply wound healing after pruning. This way you will avoid possible infections through an open wound.
- And finally, pay what is necessary, no more no less. If you do it in excess, the high amount of nitrogen in the soil could attract pests to your crop.
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