Graft-transmissible agent causes bark necrosis and stem pitting in plum trees
In two Central Valley plum orchards, nearly all the trees started exhibiting copious amounts of dark gumballs on scaffold branches and main trunks. Exposed bark showed extensive tissue necrosis and necrotic stem-pitting on the surface of the woody cylinders. Eventually, both orchards had to be removed and replanted. The symptoms were highly suggestive of a viral or viruslike disease agent. We began studies to characterize the pathogen associated with the failure of these orchards and were successful in associating the disease with a new virus that proved to have an extensive host range in many cultivated Prunus. Characterization of this virus is under way.