Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 08:12 AM

Title: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 08:12 AM
Hello all,
The second year in row I have discovered a fungus in my soil. It is not mycorrhizae. It is yellow, hairy with little (very hard) grains. I have attached a picture.  All my pines and other bonsais were effected last year and had been repotted. I did not use a fungicide etc. It is late spring here in South Africa and it seems to come back (accompanied by a pungent mushroom smell). The trees get full day sun and pots can get very warm at times.  The trees are not the strongest but seem ok. All of them are planted in a pumice/seramis//grit/bark mixture.
Should I use a systemic fungicide? And if yes which one without retarding the little mycorrhizae I have....?
I have shown some of this stuff to a local nursery but they can't help!
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Sorce on December 14, 2014, 09:47 AM
More Saffas!

That's a tough one.

Sorce
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Adair M on December 14, 2014, 09:53 AM
I don't know what it is, but the problem is the pine bark in your soil mix. Eliminate it, and I bet the problem would go away.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: J.Kent on December 14, 2014, 09:55 AM
Why is it that when anyone sees something they don't understand, their immediate thought is to KILL IT!

If it doesn't seem to be affecting your trees, let it be.  

And just a thought:  Fungus seldom do well when water is scarce.  Could it be that your trees are wated too often -- especially at this time of year? ???
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Sorce on December 14, 2014, 10:02 AM
I was thinking the pine bark is likely allowing it.

Soil seems kind of thick. Too soily.

No pine, no grit, more pumice.?

Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 10:05 AM
I don't know what it is, but the problem is the pine bark in your soil mix. Eliminate it, and I bet the problem would go away.

Eliminating the bark from the soil or the entire tree?  Repotting isn't an option now - any fungicide I could use?
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 10:09 AM
Why is it that when anyone sees something they don't understand, their immediate thought is to KILL IT!

If it doesn't seem to be affecting your trees, let it be.  

And just a thought:  Fungus seldom do well when water is scarce.  Could it be that your trees are wated too often -- especially at this time of year? ???
Experience tells me that the fungus can spread very quickly... Will keep the trees as dry as possible - let's see what happens. What strikes me that no one here has a clue what this is!
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on December 14, 2014, 10:18 AM
How often do you clean the top of your soil?  If you rake the top with angled tweezers you can remove a lot of gunk, pests, weeds, etc.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 10:32 AM
I was thinking the pine bark is likely allowing it.

Soil seems kind of thick. Too soily.

No pine, no grit, more pumice.?


Hi Sorce,
i was under the impression that pine bark encourage myccorizia - that is why I mixed it in.  The only mediums available her in SA is grit, bark and soil. The pumice I had was a once off purchase.
There is no more thn 30% soil in the mix. Perhaps the pumice and seramis hold too mush water? The mix is otherwise free draining.
A local bonsai person told me to put an extra layer of soil on top during summer to avoid high temperatures in the pot...
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 10:38 AM
How often do you clean the top of your soil?  If you rake the top with angled tweezers you can remove a lot of gunk, pests, weeds, etc.
Hello John,
Thank you for your reply.
The surface is free of any weed, bugs etc. All trees had been repotted 4 months ago. I did put an extra layer of grit on top to avoid the temperature becoming too hot in the pot.  We are already we'll in the 30's and summer are easily in the 40's here.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: DorianJF on December 14, 2014, 10:42 AM
More Saffas!

That's a tough one.

Sorce
Hey Sorce - We have a saying here in South Africa that goes like this  - TIA - Meaning - This is Africa

Things get tough here.   ;D

Kent - I have never seen anything like that so I cannot help on that.  
All my pines and other bonsais were effected last year and had been repotted.
When you say all your bonsai were affected - In what way?  Was it only the soil that got the fungus or did your trees suffer (leaf loss , dying etc)

My thoughts is that if it was only the soil affected, then I would not worry to much about it except maybe just scratch it out until you have a clearer understanding?
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on December 14, 2014, 10:49 AM
Surface looks pretty dirty. Could be the components. Did you screen?  We don't typically use any organics in our soil.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 11:32 AM


Kent - I have never seen anything like that so I cannot help on that.  
All my pines and other bonsais were effected last year and had been repotted.
When you say all your bonsai were affected - In what way?  Was it only the soil that got the fungus or did your trees suffer (leaf loss , dying etc)

My thoughts is that if it was only the soil affected, then I would not worry to much about it except maybe just scratch it out until you have a clearer understanding?
[/quote]
Hi Dorian,
no leafloss nor dying, just yellowish fungus throughout the soil/pot with very hard grains. The grains are solid and stay behind when the soil/fungus has dried out/up.  There is also a noticeable mushroom smell ( I guess the spores) when turning the soil. 
Thanks for you reply.

So none of you suggests to use a fungicide????
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on December 14, 2014, 12:39 PM
I wouldn't recommend using fungicide on the roots of JBP, no.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: DorianJF on December 14, 2014, 01:23 PM
I agree. I would also not use a fungicide. Especially if it is not causing any damage to you bonsai.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Adair M on December 14, 2014, 04:46 PM
Don't use pine bark as a soil component. Or any other organic material, for that matter.

Mushrooms live on decaying organic matter. So, the pine bark in your soil must be what's doing it.

I looked up what seramis is. Some kind of clay product for orchids. It said it retains water. If so, you don't need the pine bark. It holds water, and becomes slimeyif kept too wet. And root rot sets in.

Remove the pine bark from your soil mix.

I'll say it one more time:

Remove the pine bark from your soil mix.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: John Kirby on December 14, 2014, 07:01 PM
Zerotol. Gentke oxygen radical priducer, controls soil fungus without impacting symbionts.


Dump the bark.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on December 14, 2014, 11:51 PM


Remove the pine bark from your soil mix.

I'll say it one more time:

Remove the pine bark from your soil mix.
[/quote]

Thanks Adair, got it!
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Adair M on December 15, 2014, 12:58 AM
Kent,

I'm not just saying that to you, there's lots of people who mistakenly use pine bark. Including some "professionals".

These professionals are more nurserymen than bonsai practioniers. They're more concerned about keeping their inventory alive than optimal conditions. Their greatest fear is having stock that dries up and dies. So they use water retentive soil. That works in the short term. But we keep trees in pots for years. Which demands having a soil mix that won't rot.

Anyway, I hope you resolve your issue!
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Sorce on December 15, 2014, 06:05 AM
No worries Kent.

I have to remove some pine bark from mine too!

I thought seramis didn't hold water.

Your trees will be ok without the bark. No....better!

Sucks about the pumice.

I would remove that unidentified fungus though,  so it doesn't impact your watering.
Hell,  you can probably afford to water a lot less often too!
Next year,barkless, a little more.

Sorce
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: geoffhobson on December 15, 2014, 09:45 AM
This is interesting, I don't add bark myself, but I know guys who do and it works well. They use what is the same as orchid bark, so perfectly safe. It is used at about 20% of the mix.
Geoff.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Sorce on December 15, 2014, 10:22 AM
Even that better bark only lasts about 2 years.

Ok for development. Repo t ting often

I've found.

Sorce
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Herman on December 17, 2014, 09:42 AM
Before changing out the bark for something else, experiment first Kent. I did an experiment to establish if a soil less mix would work for me, under the African sun and only being able to water once a day, and on my deciduous i almost lost all of them in the soil less mix, the others with 20% bark were flourishing. for my pines i potted one in a soil less mix and the rest into my 10% composted bark mix, all did fine except my pine in the soil less mix(died from drought)...granted I still need to experiment but in the mean time I'm happy with 10% bark and the pines being alive and healthy. we don't have the mild sun of the northern states nor may we have the ability to run out and water up to 4 times a day....besides that, Graham Potter uses milled pine bark in his soil mixes and he lives in one of the wettest countries in the world, and his trees are very healthy...so pine bark can't be that bad for a tree :)

if you want to change the bark out, I've been looking at some alternatives, look into aqua soil, africana, its apparently a lot like akadama, but be prepared to pay 500 bucks for just enough to repot 1 big tree :)

some other alternatives may be rough palm fibres, we know it as palm peat bricks, get the high cec rough one if you can, its much cheaper!

kind regards
Herman
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: geoffhobson on December 17, 2014, 02:48 PM
You are right, Herman, a friend of mine used a soil mix with loam added. He was at work all day and so could not water during the day. I had trees from him in his mix and I was over watering and almost killed them. My mix is much more open, and free draining.
It depends as you say on individual cercomstances. I use Akadama or with 50% Kyodama, which is a British product. It is a grit like material, and very good, but not for everyone,
Geoff.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on January 09, 2015, 06:22 AM
Hi All, thanks for the comments, Herman in particular.
That fungus is slowly but surely invading my collection again - my frustration changes to resignation....

I am watering very cautiously - or at least I thought so.

The spot (where the trees are) can get very hot (40's) - it is unfortunately the only spot with sun and some wind protection (wind is hectic here in Cape Town). Could the hot temperature be the problem?

The pine bark chips were dry (not decomposed) when I added them to the soil mix - could this be the issue? There is no more than 15% of pine bark in the mix.... but it looks like the fungus attaches to the bark chips first before spreading.

...oh I forgot to mention, when I repotted these last year I inoculated with Myconox. Sometime I think it is a mutation of mycorrhizea.

The trees look 'fine", some of the infected trees have developed distorted needles (see pic)- but  all of my trees have brown tips. The summer candles are developing/looking alright. I assume the brown tips are from too much fertiliser (green dream) I may have used after repotting.

We are in the middle of summer so repotting is not an option.

Herman, Auqua soil Africana... where would I be able to get this?

Thank you all for your advice
Kent
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Herman on January 13, 2015, 04:40 AM
Hello Kent :)

I got this on a couple of my black pines too a few years back, I got a systemic fungicide from a buddy that works for Protech. Apparently the forestry guys use this fungicide to combat needle-cast in our pine plantations. I didn't get it for the weird malformed needles, but for needle-cast... long story short... after I applied the fungicide I've never seen needles like that on my pines again, neither needle-cast. I don't think the fungus in your soil causes the needles to be misformed, It almost like peach leaf curl fungus? directly on the needle/leaf, maybe a contact fungicide like myco-guard would do the trick on it's own 

best wishes

kind regards
Herman
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: DorianJF on January 13, 2015, 05:26 AM
Hello Kent.

Maybe just a suggestion is to take you pine into a bonsai nursery and have them look at it.  That may solve the fungicide and needle problem.

There is a great bonsai nursery in Houtbay (Bishopsford).  Maybe you have been there before.  They have always been ultra helpful to me. 
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on January 21, 2015, 03:11 AM
Hello Kent.

Maybe just a suggestion is to take you pine into a bonsai nursery and have them look at it.  That may solve the fungicide and needle problem.

There is a great bonsai nursery in Houtbay (Bishopsford).  Maybe you have been there before.  They have always been ultra helpful to me. 



Hi Dorian, thank you for your reply.
All knows Bonsai places nor nurseries were able to help

I honestly think that the brown needle tips come from over fertilising in combination with heat and wind (staying in Vredehoek). It does not look like needle cast. Only the tips (2 - 3 cm) are brown, the rest of the needle looks fine - I am spraying in regular intervals with Bravo - as prevention.

Re malformed needles, looking at the needles it seems that the shed does not widen for the needle to grow - but traps it rather. Most malformed needles have their shed at the top half of the needle.  Perhaps too much Nitrogen in the fertiliser? Or again heat and wind? Well, time will tell.

Regarding the soil fungus, have also been at a few nurseries (besides the known bonsai nurseries) - no success. They are all telling me that this is a fungus (and they haven't seen something like this before) - Wow thanks for the news...!!!

I will keep on picking the fungus and repot as soon as I can, with no pine bark at all (thanks Adair!)...Do you know of a place where I can buy (inorganic) growing medium such as pumice?  Herman recommended Aqua soil... The soil available at Bishopsford or other places is not suitable for pines.

Otherwise I will use gravel/grit with some peat - I think peat might be the better option to pine park (at least around here).

Thank you for your input.
Best





Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Herman on January 26, 2015, 02:32 AM
Hi,

If you manage to get aqua soil africana or amazonia just make sure to soak the medium in water for about a week to flush out all the ammonium. These have a very high concentration of ammonium, as the medium is made for planted aquarium tanks. And like I said its damn expensive...

here is my current mix for pines.  - 1 part washed silica 4mm sand
                                                     - 1 part crushed clinker brick 3-5mm
                                                     - 1 part hydroton leca 3-4mm very uniform
                                                     - 1 part rough palm fibers(high cec)
                                                     - 1 part composted pine bark(sifted to 4mm)
                                                     - handful of aquarium charcoal

    all of these ingredients are easy to find and not too expensive. I wouldn't use peat it compacts easily and   
    when you skip a watering it becomes hydrophobic resulting in dry spots, I will also venture to say it has a lot   
    more pathogens present than pine bark, If worried about the pine bark, just microwave it for 20 seconds and that will
    kill off every living organism in the pine bark. Just be vigilant with your watering if you go for a completely inorganic
    mix, I know Cape Town has very dry HOT summers(42 Celsius in the shade), prepare to water a
    lot.

I also don't think too much nitrogen will result in malformed needles, some of the people on this site fertilize the heck out of their black pines, none of them seem to have had the same problem as you, or they would've chimed in? I think it's some kind of fungus, maybe a micro nutrient deficiency.

edit: We currently don't have any place to buy pumice in the country for horticultural purposes, mutimex imported turkish pumice, but they stopped importing about a year ago, we also have no akadama in the country, our cat litter almost dissolves in water, scoria or lava stone we have but its more expensive than clinker and clinker is lighter and holds more water. you can maybe try and find the people that imports the pumice stones the ladys use to skaaf their heels with but that means you will need to crush the pumice stones, not fun if you have to break stone for 20 bonsai...and you need a specific size... a lot of volume will be lost.

do you know or can get into contact with Amith Rambali, he's in the same club that Rudi Adams was part of, a great guy! Amith will be able to point you in the right direction down there in Cape town if you are searching for modern substrates to use for bonsai. It may also be a good idea to go speak with Terry from bonsaitree... he imports a lot of black,red and white pines from japan, he may give you the advice you need.

best regards
Herman                                               
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on January 26, 2015, 04:26 PM
Thanks Herman,
...not sure if I have the time to crush pumice by hand...

I am pretty sure I m dealing with needle cast/red band fungus. I plucked all infected needles, virtually removed everything but this seasons growth - which seems fine and sprayed with copper soap (recommended). Not sure why the Bravo didn't work. So lets see what happens.

And as soon weather will allow i am going to repot to get rid of the bark.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on January 30, 2015, 07:58 AM
Hi All,

is there any fungicide I should use when I repot (to get rid of the soil fungus)? Or anything else? Just washing off all old soil is not working because this is what I have done last year.

Thanks
Kent
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Leo in NE Illinois on January 30, 2015, 04:23 PM
I try not to repot pines more than once every 3 or 4 years for younger plants and 5 or more years between repotting for older plants. I use a granular fungicide on the surface of my soil when needed, usually autumn and spring. I use Clearys 1333. I use a tablespoon for a 6 inch diameter pot, but check with others for more exact dose rates. Read the labels.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on February 01, 2015, 03:40 AM
Thanks Leo,

Repotting is certainly not my first choice but the fungus is very invasive - and has a very strong pungent mushroom smell. Cleary is not available here in sa and none of the nursery/ garden center are able to help when it comes to pines...
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Herman on February 02, 2015, 02:29 AM
Hi Kent,

go through the product list of Protek :) they have a wide range of systemics and contact sprays...I think a general systemic fungicide will work

web site is under proteksa or something just google, their products will be available in cape town :)

check it out...

kind regards
Herman
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on February 02, 2015, 03:07 AM
Thanks Herman,  will give this a try.
...lets see!

Reg
Kent
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on March 04, 2015, 02:07 AM
Hi all,

Fungus is still growing.... (Attached another picture) regardeless of keeping the soil as dry as possible. Have also treated the worst effected tree with a systemic which seems to retard the growth - for a short while.

I am left with one option which is to (fall) repot all (10) trees again (and certainly not using any pine bark).

Someone suggested to get the trees (soil) fumigated

I would apreciate to get your thoughts on the following:

A, should i bare root the trees ( wash out all soil) and treat (with what?)
B, should i do any root pruning at all?
C, what to do with the containers (i have read somewhere not to use pots again if there is a fungus issue)?

Any advice is very much appreciatd.

Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on March 07, 2015, 02:17 AM
Zerotol. Gentke oxygen radical priducer, controls soil fungus without impacting symbionts.


Dump the bark.

Hi John,
I finally got hold of Zerotol - will give it a go

Thanks
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: John Kirby on March 07, 2015, 07:54 AM
Hope it works, nice extra is that it isn't phytotoxic. Good luck.
Title: Re: Please help - what is this?
Post by: Kent2106 on November 13, 2015, 03:59 AM
Hi All,

for those who are interested, here is some feedback on the soil fungus issue I had a year ago:

First - I lost one tree only... most probably through the stress of repotting.

The rest is alive and is doing ok.

What I did:
treated/watered the worst trees with Hydrogen Peroxide (Zerotol)- recommended by John. Our customs confiscated the Zerotol I ordered from the US - without a plausible reason... So I used the locally available HP
Repotted into a grid, leca & Peat mix - no bark!  Thanks Adair!!! I also  believe that the previous mix allowed the medium (and roots) in the Pot to warm up to quickly...
To reduce heat, trees are growing now under a 50% shade cloth. Too much for Pines do you think (would appreciate what you think re this)???
Have also used some systemic fungicide (from Protec)  on an Olive tree - so far so good (the one recommended by Herman).

What is the chance of the fungus not returning...once a tree had been affected? Not very high I guess.  On the other hand, last year at the same time I had issues already... So far (11 months later) I have not discovered any more of the fungus.

We are going into Summer now with temperatures being in the mid 30's - I guess the coming few weeks will show how effective treatments have been...

thanks

Kent