Cherries with rugose mosaic virus are unfortunately untreatable. The disease causes damage to leaves and reduces the yield of fruit, and there is no chemical treatment for it. Know the signs of rugose mosaic if you have cherry trees so you can remove diseased trees and prevent disease spread as soon as possible.
What is Cherry Rugose Mosaic Virus?
Cherries with rugose mosaic virus are infected by strains of Prunus necrotic ringspot virus. Pollen and seeds of the cherry tree carry the virus and spread it from one tree to another throughout an orchard or home garden. Grafting with a diseased tree can also spread the virus. Thrips that feed on the trees may carry the virus from tree to tree, but that has not been confirmed. Rugose mosaic symptoms in cherry trees include:
- Brown, dead spots on leaves, turning into holes
- Yellowing on leaves
- Enation, or outgrowths, on the bottom surface of leaves
- Early dropping of damaged leaves
- Deformed fruit that is angular or flattened
- Delayed ripening of fruit or uneven ripening
- Reduced yield of fruit
- Distorted leaf growth, including twisted leaf tips
- Twig and bud death
- Stunted tree growth
Managing Cherry Rugose Mosaic Disease
If you’re wondering how to treat rugose mosaic disease in your cherry trees, unfortunately the answer is that you cannot. You can manage this disease, though, and prevent its spread. The best way to manage it is to avoid the disease in the first place. Use cherry trees with rootstock that has been certified as disease-free. To manage the disease if you see signs of it, remove the affected trees as soon as possible. This is the only surefire way to get the disease out of your orchard or garden. You can also keep weeds and groundcovers well-mowed to prevent the buildup of a thrip population, but this may only have a minimal effect on preventing the spread of the virus.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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