The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Varieties resistant to cedar apple rust

Cedar apple rustCedar apple rust has struck again.  This winter, we cut down dozens of nearby Red Cedars, but we only girdled the ones that were too close to the electric line for easy felling.  The girdled trees are taking their own sweet time to die, so they were able to transmit the fungus to our fruit trees yet again.

These orange spots are a sure sign that our trees are infected.  This means another year of malingering, although I hope by next year we will have wiped out the closest Red Cedars and our apple trees will finally take off.

To be fair, not all of our apple trees are malingering.  I've noticed quite a range of sensitivies, from the Winter Banana and Stayman Winesap, which would just as soon not do anything as long as the rust is in the air, to our Virginia Beauty and Early Transparent, which are growing quite happily with just a few small spots speckling their leaves.

If cutting the nearest cedars doesn't bring relief to our apples, I'm not going to have Mark fell all of the cedars on our property --- there are just too many.  Instead, I'll take a permaculture approach and replace our susceptible trees with resistant ones.  For example, old fashioned Winesaps are resistant to cedar apple rust, while Stayman Winesaps are not.  The best list of resistant species I've run across is in this pdf file from the Arkansas Extension Service, unique in that it includes heirloom species as well as those specifically bred to be disease resistant.  In our neck of the woods, where Red Cedars are a very common early successional tree, it probably would have made sense to only plant resistant varieties in the first place.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Wonderful blog! Thank you for taking the time to write down your experiences, and to share them with all of us.

I have also noticed Cedar Apple Rust on our very young apple trees. While studying forest gardening, I came across a passage in Martin Crawford's book, "Creating a Forest Garden", that suggests highly aromatic plants will give off a scent having antifungal properties. He personally uses apple mint to accomplish this, but suggests that any mint would do as well as many other herbs. He claims to have no problems with fungal infections as a result.

This year, I have planted mint underneath each of our apple trees in an attempt to see how well it works. Let's see, $4/mint vs $30 and several years for new trees ... I think the mint is at least worth a try to see if it helps.

Since planting, it may have halted the spread of the rust, or the rust may have just gone out of season. I don't know. I'll need to wait 'til next year to see if it works.

Comment by Dan Tue Sep 27 22:16:33 2011
It's interesting that you should mention that because I had mint take over the area under one of my apple trees this year. (I had planted the mint nearby and failed to notice when the mint crept up under the canopy and had a ball.) I have to say that the tree is actually one of my worse looking apple trees, probably because of competing with the mint for nutrients. It didn't seem to do any better or worse with cedar apple rust than it had in previous years. So I'd say that spearmint, at least, isn't effective in that manner.
Comment by anna Wed Sep 28 08:40:25 2011

We also have problems with CAR. Getting resistant apples makes a tremendous difference. Saving susceptible varieties can be done, but requires extra time and funds. Oil sprays seem to kill CAR if used from green-tip to just past petal fall. Some advocate whole neem oil, but that requires mixing in a certain amount of soap before adding water to make a spray. It is much easier to get something like OMRI certified Stylet oil. Just add it to water in the recommended amount. This also staves off the summer diseases, and is not needed if we're not getting rain.

Also, please share the whole list of which apples in your orchard are susceptible and which are not. We have several lists and they conflict somewhat, due to the exact circumstances of each site. Quince rust can also confuse things.

Best wishes!

Comment by jacurry, Missouri Fri Jun 27 13:42:21 2014
This I can tell you,,,i did consult the list of resistant apples and still did not have luck....negatory to the Arkansas Black ...still got it and got it bad,...I will say that I have a gala that gets a little but not bad enough to worry about....I will be trying more Gala's...
Comment by scott durrwachter Tue Aug 26 19:57:10 2014
I'm beginning to develop my home orchard and have already hit this problem. Being in New Jersey CAR is just a fact of life. Its a bit depressing as most of the varieties I enjoy are highly susceptible to this plight. Can anyone recommend varieties similar to granny smith, crimson crisp, and hidden rose that are resistant to CAR? I'm not a big fan of very sweet/soft varieties.
Comment by Busch83 Mon Jun 15 09:48:50 2015

I have also had some CAR troubles but not as bad this year. I'm not sure if it was due to the dry spring, tge cutting down of two large nearby red cedar trees or some of both. I have been spraying neem the last two years and my Goldrush trees are much better this year than last so maybe the neem helps a bit too. For resistant types, I have Liberty, William's Pride, Redfree, Roxbury Russet, Baldwin, LindaMac, and some others that aren't affected much. Most were planted in 2014 so no apples yet. I would do your research as to which varieties are resistant, and then find some orchards to go taste them before you buy trees. We have several orchards nearby and the trouble isn't deciding which to plant, but what not to plant.

Comment by Anonymous Fri Jul 24 22:46:23 2015

I purchased a honey crisp because it was my favorite apple. We knew nothing about apple trees, but wanted to start our own backyard orchard. The nursery sold me the tree without telling me about CAR. So I go back to the nursery to ask about it then they sell me some copper sulfate spray. Why didn't the tell me about the rust from the cedars in the first place? Answer because they can't keep me coming back if they sell disease resistant trees! Also the propagation of new disease resistant varieties does not pay to promote because universities also get money from chemical companies. At least this is what I read. So none of the tree varieties I found that were resistant or imune to CAR are as follows: redfree, enterprise, liberty, red delicious, wolf river, williams pride, freedom, sansa, try cumming nursery for disease resistant trees online. also from fedco and some other companies you can get sion wood to make grafts to add more varieties or change your tree that already exists. Something I read is the foliar feeding micro nutrients, fish and seaweed helps strengthen the tree will help it fight off infections...I am going to try that this year.

Comment by debra athanas Sun Feb 21 19:51:38 2016
I have a suggestion of at least one tree that is resistant to cedar apple rust. Out Meyer's Royal Limbertwig trees are doing well and are not showing a single sign of it even when a couple of the other varieties are heavily spotted.
Comment by Shawna D. Sun Jun 12 22:22:05 2016
We live in the country and have many cedars on our property and nearby neighbors so removal is not feasible. I didn't event know what rust was until I saw a small brown ball growing on one of the trees. We have had our Red Delicious apple tree in the ground for three years now, this summer will be the fourth growing season it's been planted. It has small apples on it but I've also noticed it has some leaves with yellow spots on it. Is it possible for a tree to still produce edible fruit if it has rust?
Comment by Jessica Sun May 7 22:13:33 2017

I had a golden delishious that was killed by the rust but our red delishious is resistant. Your must be another variety other than red delisious. Here's my list after much research (also kiefer pears gets the rust as well)

resistant apples: Liberty- (needs 2 pollinators as it is triploid and does noy pollinatany other variety even it's self. fuji- I have a tree about 30 feet away from a rust enterprize redfree winesap - (original only) roxbury russet

I like these because they are resistant to rust and other apple maladies like fire blight, mildew, scab. also they produce fruit august through late october. Also if you thin your apple trees the fruit is larger and some trees tend to be biannual if you don't. Hope this helps

Comment by debra athanas Tue May 9 14:13:55 2017
Rust continues to be a big problem here in Massachusetts. I am doing foliar sprays and neem which does seem to help, What is interesting and worth looking into, is that some varieties have rust, while a sister plant right next to it shows nothing. It makes me wonder if the nursery sent something different. I planted too many kinds but if I was to do it over with rust in mind, I would do Liberty, Red delicious, Roxbury russet, Zestar, Sansa, Enterprise, Hawkeye, Sundance, Williams Pride, Redfree, Newtown Pippin, McIntosh, LindaMac, Macoun, Chieftain, Splendour, Baldwin. It may be different depending on your site. I had two big red cedars taken down a few years ago but there are likely others I haven't seen yet. Surprisingly two Cox trees look fine even though they are not resistant. With a little luck the weather will take out what ted cedars are left! I do think making trees healthier can only help minimize the effects of rust.
Comment by Paul G Tue Jul 18 23:16:25 2017
That link has errors. Williams pride is field immune to CAR (according to PRI group and my observations). Baldwin is not, though it is much more resistant than is Goldrush. Surprisingly, Cox's orange pippin is quite resistant.
Comment by Anthony Thu Sep 26 20:19:54 2019

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