Sadly, it seems that a large proportion of fruit trees across the site have been blighted by what appears to be this problem – described in detail here by RHS. Furthermore, cruelly, it seems that well-tended and controlled trees have been badly affected, whereas overgrown, neglected ones have been generally untouched.
This agrees with the biology of this fungal disorder, where its spores enter a tree by wounds, especially those caused by pruning, the sawing off of branches etc.
The advice then, would appear to be that if anyone has a still-healthy tree, but which needs pruning, then they make sure – although opinions vary on this – that they have a fungicidal protective pruning paint to hand, to apply immediately that the branch is removed, and only to prune in summer.
The spore-releasing bodies start to appear this time of year – from September onwards – and so if anyone cuts off a diseased branch – the advice for so doing is to make sure that the branch is cut well beyond any evidence of the disease – then it should be removed from site straight away, as spores will continue to be spread even when it is separated from the tree.
It’s not a happy thing to have to report, but we hope that by so doing we might save some precious fruit trees across people’s plots.
PPA Website Team