Rust Never Sleeps - Jim Chatfield

Cedar quince rust on hawthorn stem in 2014

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from Fred Bess of Meehan’s Lawn Service, Inc. in Brook Park with the following:

Q. – “I have 2 customers with severe stem cankers from rust disease. I have attached photos. I am used to leaf and fruit infections, but I am not certain how to deal with these stem cankers caused by the disease. Do you have recommendations or can you point me in the right direction?”

cedar quince rust on hawthorn stem: JulyCedar quince rust on hawthorn stem: northeast Ohio, July 2020

cedar quince rust on hawthornCedar quiunce rust on hawthorn

A. – These stem cankers are something we do see with cedar quince rust on hawthorn, caused by the fungusGymnosporangium clavipesthat alternates between Eastern red cedar (juniper) and rose family hosts such as hawthorn.Fred’s pictures were excellent, though I was not able to return the favor with a sunny response. My answer:

cedar quince rust on juniperHere is what cedar quince rust looks like in spring on juniper, unlike the galls on juniper from the cedar apple rust fungus and the cedar hawthorn rust fungus.

cedar quince rust on hawthron fruit in JuneCedar quince rust most commonly is noted on hawthorn fruit, shown here just starting in mid-June. Photo from 2018.

cedar quince rust on hawthorn fruits in late JulyFruit infections can be quite spectacular, shown here in late July, 2014. Note also cedar hawthorn rust on hawthorn leaves in this image. Ain't nature wonderful?

“The bad news is that it can be bad enough to make hawthorns seriously unsightly. The good news is that though the cankered tissue remains on the hawthorn the fungus in these infections will not re-infect hawthorns this year or future years, except to the extent that it will now spread back to junipers in coming months and then spread back to hawthorns next year. No controls are effective or useful on hawthorn this year, but for the future, removal of adjacent junipers to the extent possible is helpful. Could also use protective sprays on hawthorns next spring.”

This disease reminds me of my ignorance years ago when I told Chad and Kim Kellogg of Grasshopper Group in Holmes County that this stem cankering on hawthorn only resulted in minor unsightliness. The following pictures illustrate how bad it can be if there is enough inoculum for junipers nearby. Rust never sleeps! 

cedar quince rustSevere cedar quince rust on stems in a previous season

cedar quince rustAnd I do mean severe