Vein clearing and cherry crinkle leaf are two names for the same problem, a virus-like condition that affects cherry trees. It can lead to serious issues in fruit production and, while it isn’t contagious, it can appear out of nowhere on otherwise healthy trees. Keep reading to learn more about how to manage a cherry with crinkle and vein clearing symptoms.
What Causes Vein Clearing and Cherry Crinkle?
Vein clearing is evidenced by the loss of the plant’s green color in its veins, which usually will turn yellow first. The condition will sometimes appear on otherwise healthy trees. Cherry crinkle leaf originates in the buds of a tree, and the symptoms show up early in the season.
It does not seem to be contagious and does not spread naturally from one tree to another. It can be accidentally spread by gardeners, however, when infected buds are grafted onto healthy trees. Research conducted by C. G. Woodbridge has suggested that the mutation may be caused by boron deficiency in the soil.
Symptoms of Cherry Vein Clearing and Crinkle
Symptoms of this mutation can be seen in both the leaves and buds of the tree. The leaves tend to be narrower than normal with serrated edges and mottled, translucent spots. The buds may be misshapen and perforated. The leaves may develop mottling, small blisters, silvery upper sides, and signs of folding, wilting, and dropping in midsummer.
Affected trees will often produce an abundance of flowers, but very few blossoms will develop into fruit or even open. The blossoms on a tree with this disease are often malformed, and the fruit that does form will be flat on one side and ridged on the other, with a pointed tip and unusually small and misshapen. The rate of ripening of the fruit is not uniform, but irregular and random.
What to Do About Sweet Cherry Crinkle
There is no official treatment for cherry vein clearing, although careful applications of boron to the soil have been shown to help in trees that have presented symptoms in previous years.
The best way to keep vein clearing and crinkle from spreading is to propagate only with budwood from cherry trees that have shown no propensity for the mutation and have not had symptoms. Before grafting, carefully inspect branches and remove any that appear to have signs of the disease.
Trees that tend to be more susceptible to the disease are Bing and Black Tartarian cherry, while Lambert and Napoleon, or Royal Ann varieties are not. Since vein clearing and cherry crinkle is a genetic condition and not transmitted by any outside carriers, it’s important to remember that the most effective cure is prevention. There is no fungicide or treatment that will cure the condition. If you aren’t sure what your cherry tree is suffering from, contact your local agricultural extension agency for help with identifying this genetic mutation disorder.