Hi Jerry... regarding question #1, I'd have to do some research to pin down the decline of your cherry trees. It sounds like a "classic case" of something
~ But I've been a few years now without "my" cherry trees and have forgotten most of their enemies. I know there was a reason
I'd spray mine with copper in the fall - and your description sounds like it. Maybe someone else
might know it off the top of their head?
Question #2: I suspect pruning back 10 to 15 feet would work. I've done some very
heavy pruning on a "wild cherry," not caring whether I killed it or not, and its thrived! Seems you'd loose most of the fruit spurs - but then they're not producing anyway...
I know you can prune a healthy
tree during the summer: remember that you're "robbing" it of its ability to resupply its root system. That's a good way to bring an aggressive tree into "balance." But in this case, sickly trees
- I wouldn't advise it. It sounds as if they'll need all the "food" they can accumulate simply to survive.
Personally, this is one of least productive seasons I've seen ~ Our never-ending-spring looks to have fed & spread fungus and assorted diseases from Apple trees, to native Maples, and everything in-between! With most plant leaves distorted and struggling, while they've waited for sun & heat, this ugly Spring's left a poor fruit-set and the proliferation of opportunistic diseases spread and fed by moisture. It's got me looking to other projects; and leaving the trees to disease
Less thinning / harvesting - more pond care & firewood gathering
Keep us posted, Viron