What causes holes in my cherry tree leaves?

Q: I have a cherry tree that has been in the ground for three years and has grown well. This year, the leaves have holes and they are falling to the ground already. The tree was sprayed twice with an insecticide and a fungicide. All sprays have been at the recommended dilutions. The leaves continue to fall. What is the problem?

A: The foliage of your tree looks like it was subject to cherry shot hole disease. Infected leaves will turn yellow and drop from the trees in mid-summer, if the infection is severe. This disease can be common when we have wet spring weather. The pathogen may continue to infect leaves throughout the growing season if rainy weather persists. In most cases, trees recover from this disease and no treatment is necessary. Rake and dispose of fallen leaves in the fall to reduce overwintering pathogens.

In addition, be sure to identify a pest or disease before you decide to spray. Some insecticides are “broad-spectrum” products which will also harm many beneficial insects. Also, an insecticide will not do anything to treat a fungal or bacterial disease.

Learn more about cherry shot hole on flowering cherries and how to manage it.

Have a plant or pest question? University of Maryland Extension’s experts have answers! Send your questions and photos to Ask an Expert.

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