How to cure Coral Spot disease
As you know, I love fig trees for the bountiful sweetness that they provide and have enjoyed this since my childhood when my granddaddy in south Alabama grew them in his back yard. They’re easy to grow in certain climates and can produce a high yield unless disease decides to infect a tree. I like it when my friends come to me seeking advise for diseased problems they might have with their trees or showing off their successes as well. One day my friend from college sought me out in Facebook with his diseased problem and here I am sharing his story.
Help Figgi Riggi!!
My artist friend Chilli Chilleye who I’ve known since college wrote to me on the Figgi Riggi Facebook page in 2017 about a disease that his fig tree had and called upon my Fig Doctor skills to help him out with a solution for a cure. Here’s his story:
I have been trying diligently to have the cutting of my grandfather’s black mission fig tree over winter in Connecticut. In the Spring of 2016 it died down to the roots but grew 5′ during the summer. This last Spring it seemed to survive but had a blackish spot on the trunk. To my great joy it started to grow well as the weather got warmer recently, following a very wet and cool couple months early on. It looks fantastic from a distance, BUT, when I was looking up close the other day, I noticed the blackish area had cracked open and there seems to be these rust colored spots on the bark, from the crack to the top. I am afraid it is “Coral Spots”, although they are more rust colored than coral, or some other fungus. The only treatment for Coral Spots appears to be cut below the infection and hope for the best. My questions would be: Is this Coral Spot? Should I cut from below the crack or go down to the roots? Or maybe from below the crack now and down to the roots in the Fall or Spring? Thanks much.
I spent some time to research this disease and found that it looks like the beginning stages of a type of canker called Coral Spot disease (fungus). What is this disease? Here is a direct quote from Wikipedia under Nectria cinnabarina (Coral Spot).
Nectria cinnabarina, also known as coral spot, is a plant pathogen that causes cankers on broadleaf trees. This disease is polycyclic and infects trees in the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. N. cinnabarina is typically saprophytic, but will act as a weak parasite if presented with an opportunity via wounds in the tree or other stressors that weaken the tree’s defense to the disease. A study published in 2011 showed that this complex consists of at least 4 distinct species. There are only a few ways to manage this disease with techniques such as sanitation and pruning away branches that have the cankers. N. cinnabarina is not as significant a problem as other Nectria spp., some of which are the most important pathogens to infect hardwood trees.
Here’s the full tree, looking pretty good I think. My grandfather taught me to winter by chopping the roots on one side, tie it down then bury with leaves. I covered with leaves, burlap, pink foam board insulation, more leaves and a tarp.
Here’s the area damaged by the frost. I am guessing now I should have sealed it off.
Near the top showing more rust spots.
After reviewing these symptoms I suggested a product that quickly solved the problem. It’s a fungicide for organic growing called Actinovate for Canker and it can be used on trees before the tree is lost.
If you need a larger quantity, then I suggest this 18 oz of Actinovate for Canker
Chilli Chilleye continues:
Thank you Tom!! I will give it a shot, sounds much better than cutting it down to a stump. I will keep you informed and let you know how I progress.
Update from Connecticut:
I am happy to report that the treatment with Actinovate for Canker on my fig tree has definitely helped and the tree is prospering, thank you Figgi Riggi!!! As you can see in the photos, there is still a large area of damage to the bark about four feet off the ground. The area of dame (sic) is about six to eight inches in length. However, the tree is now over seven feet tall and has figs everywhere. Now I am wondering if I should trim the trunk below the damage in the Fall or maybe more likely the Spring?
Here’s a comparison from June to August:
My suggestion about pruning is to wait until late February or early March before the sap returns to the limbs. Although be careful. If you prune more than a 1/3 of the tree, it could possibly die back to the roots and begin growing a new trunk or kill the tree. A rabbit killed one of my trees and then 2 yrs later, it grew again from the roots, so sometimes the roots remain alive. One thing you can do right now is to white wash the damaged areas. If you don’t already know, white wash is a 50/50 mix of white latex paint and water. You can also read Rabbit Repair Tip for alternative effective treatment. Read more about pruning at 9 Essential Tips to Outside Living.
A Portrait of Chilli Chilleye:
Happy artist-gardener with his cured fig tree
I always feel pleased when I help people reach gardening success and I’m happy that Kevin sports a big smile with his healed tree. Thank you Kevin for coming to Figgi Riggi to seek out a solution.