Apple trees are suddenly dying, and scientists don’t know why

Sudden apple decline, also known as rapid apple decline (RAD), is killing apple trees across the country, particularly on the East Coast. The phenomenon is exactly what it sounds like: Apple trees may appear healthy at the start of the season and might even produce a full crop. Then they suddenly die. Nearly 80 percent of North Carolina orchards have been affected, and though the condition has been documented since 2013, researchers are still unsure about its causes. Is it some unknown virus? Or climate change? Common reasons for apple tree death—root rot, infestation, or fungus—don’t explain the RAD-affected trees, according to Modern Farmer. In March, the Department of Agriculture gave scientists a nearly $300,000 grant to learn more about the issue.

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