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Jeff985

What’s going on with my Queen

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Jeff985

I bought this queeen when I moved into my new house two months ago. Since then all the fronds have shifted to one side and are turning brown. There was some brown on it when I bought it so that part doesn’t concern me too much but all the fronds shifting to one side has me scratching my head. I marked the spear about five days ago. It’s hard to tell if it’s grown due to it being nine feet up and looking at it from that angle. It looks like it’s grown a little but not enough that I can say for sure. I bought three others that are doing well. They’ve all opened new fronds and one of them is even fruiting. Any ideas?

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kinzyjr

Not sure if it might be disease, transplant shock, etc. - but in any event, I'd plan on hitting up the seller for a replacement at this point.  You can try adding some slow release fertilizer and giving it supplemental water to see if it will pep back up, but my bet is on it not making it.

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Steve in Florida

If lack of irrigation is not an issue it could have phytophthora.  Weak, limp petioles is a classic indicator.  Agri Fos or Banrot should help it if it is not too far gone.

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Jeff985

Maybe. I looked up the symptoms of that and read that it attacks the spear first, then the canopy will turn to a lighter shade of green, then yellow, then brown, starting with the newest fronds and work it’s way down. I used a ladder to get a closer look, and the spear looks pretty good other than showing no signs of growth. All the fronds are changing color pretty evenly and they aren’t going through stages of different colors eventually getting to brown. Where they’re green they still look good but there are areas of the fronds that are brown. It kinda looks like sunburn but I’ve never heard of that on a Queen. I don’t think the petioles are necessarily week. I moved one of the fronds that was on the other side back to where it was a couple weeks ago and it immediately moved back. While I was up there I was looking at the boots and found an old fruit stalk that easily pulled out. The base of it was rotting and infested with ants. I started pulling off boots and found more ants. Probably millions of them. No other fruit stalks were loose and I didn’t find anymore rot. I hosed it down with ant and termite killer, then sprayed copper fungicide. 

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Merlyn2220

I looked up some papers on "palm sudden wilt" and found this:

Effect of Pests and Diseases on Oil Palm Yield; Gait Fee Chung, in Palm Oil, 2012

Sudden Wither

This deadly disease in Central and South America is also known as Marchitez sorpresiva, sudden wilt, fatal wilt, or “hartrot.”

Brief Description of Disease

The sudden wilt disease is caused by the infection of protozoa, Phytomonas staheli. The protozoa has been found in association with sudden wilt in the phloem of roots, meristem zone, spear base, and stalks of inflorescence. Palms have been attacked from the age of one year. Several insects have been suggested to be the vectors of the protozoa, namely the root miner, Sagalassa valida, and the bugs Myndus crudus & Lincus lethifer. The alternate host plant of the bugs is a grass, Panicum maximum.

Damage Symptoms

The characteristic symptoms are (1) sudden rotting of all developing bunches, (2) reddish discoloration on top of petioles, and (3) rapid drying of fronds from lower older fronds upwards. The affected palms die in 2 to 3 weeks due to the advanced rotting in the root system.

I guess there is a different in characteristic death between "bud rot" and "root rot" from different Phytomona.  The rot at the bottom of the stalk you pulled out could be an indication of bud rot.  Ants like rotting wet areas to build nests, so that's not too unusual.  I think what Steve was suggesting is the first stage of bud rot is rapid unusual wilt, followed by discoloration and visible rot.  I've been reading a lot on various palm diseases, but haven't run across anything definitive on a palm symptom like that.  Others here probably have a *lot* more experience.

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Jeff985

Could it be over watering. I water it the same as the other three but it is in a lower spot than the others and it’s in clay soil. I moved the mulch aside and the soil was kinda green like algae. From my research this is a possibility but I’ve read several comments on this site that it’s practically impossible to overwater a Queen. I planted six queens at my old house an now have six at this house and have never overwatered one yet, but I’ve also never planted on in a low spot in the yard either. 

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Merlyn2220

It could be overwatering if it is simply drowning in a non-draining bowl of water.  Here's my notes on watering:

  • Underwatering typically brown at the edges first, later followed by yellowing of the whole leaf. Overwatering can be drooping fronds, then turning yellowish and losing color

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Jeff985

It’s definitely not under watered. The leaf tips are green. It’s the middle of the leaflets that are brown, and they went straight to brown from green. No yellow in between. The most confusing part is that all the fronds shifted to one side. 

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Steve in Florida
4 hours ago, Jeff985 said:

Maybe. I looked up the symptoms of that and read that it attacks the spear first, then the canopy will turn to a lighter shade of green, then yellow, then brown, starting with the newest fronds and work it’s way down. I used a ladder to get a closer look, and the spear looks pretty good other than showing no signs of growth. All the fronds are changing color pretty evenly and they aren’t going through stages of different colors eventually getting to brown. Where they’re green they still look good but there are areas of the fronds that are brown. It kinda looks like sunburn but I’ve never heard of that on a Queen. I don’t think the petioles are necessarily week. I moved one of the fronds that was on the other side back to where it was a couple weeks ago and it immediately moved back. While I was up there I was looking at the boots and found an old fruit stalk that easily pulled out. The base of it was rotting and infested with ants. I started pulling off boots and found more ants. Probably millions of them. No other fruit stalks were loose and I didn’t find anymore rot. I hosed it down with ant and termite killer, then sprayed copper fungicide. 

What termite killer did you use?  Some are toxic to palms and can cause a slow death if absorbed.  Was ants also in the roots?

Phytophthora affects palms differently, even side by side siblings.  They can have green spears and still suffer from phytophthora.  

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Jeff985
10 hours ago, Steve in Florida said:

What termite killer did you use?  Some are toxic to palms and can cause a slow death if absorbed.  Was ants also in the roots?

Phytophthora affects palms differently, even side by side siblings.  They can have green spears and still suffer from phytophthora.  

Bayer ant and termite killer. Haven’t seen any ants in the soil. 

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Steve in Florida

That one should be safe when mixed as recommended.

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Jeff985
31 minutes ago, Steve in Florida said:

That one should be safe when mixed as recommended.

I’ve used it before and not had any problems. What do you think about boron deficiency? I’m kinda leaning toward that. It’s the only thing I’ve read about that can cause the canopy to shift to one side. I don’t think the shift is due to weak petioles since I climbed up there and moved one of the fronds back to where it used to be and it immediately pulled itself back to that side. It’s not drooping, it just really wants to stay on that side even though the trunk is straight and there’s no wind.  Also its newest frond isn’t fully opened. I assumed it was mechanical damage from being transported since it was like that when I got it. 

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Steve in Florida

Boron deficiency is slow to develop.  An entire shift of the crown due to boron deficiency should take much more than a few months.   Boron deficiency usually initiates as deformed individual leaflets but I don't see that in the photo.

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Jim in Los Altos

If it was planted a couple of months ago, my opinion is shock. Queen palms are often growing in swamps in their natural habitat so it's really nearly almost impossible to overwater them. 

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Merlyn2220

I had another thought, what if it's just some physical damage from laying down during transport?  If it was hanging off the back of a truck, fell over while it was being moved, or something else, it could have broken some of the structural fibers on one side of the trunk or petioles.  I have an Arenga Engleri that was a bit abused in transport, and a few of the fronds got twisted and stayed that way.  Some of them I staked vertical for ~2 months and then removed the stake, they are now straight. 

Maybe yours just got weakened on one side and a few strong wind gusts pushed it over, so now it's growing that direction?  Could you drive some tall stakes (pipes or 2x4s) into the ground and tie the crown leaves back straight?  Maybe pull them over a few degrees every week?

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NOT A TA
41 minutes ago, Merlyn2220 said:

I had another thought, what if it's just some physical damage from laying down during transport? 

When I first saw this thread a few days ago my first thought was possible windburn from transport. Was this palm on the top during transport? How far were they on a truck? Highway speeds? Sunny day? Any tarps used?

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Jeff985

I thought of mechanical damage too. The place I bought it from is only three miles from my house, but the guys I hired to deliver it and help me plant it didn’t have a clue what they were doing and they did position it on the trailer in a way that put pressure on the spear. It took almost two months for the fronds to migrate to the other side though. I’m hoping that is the problem though because I think it would grow out of that. I just checked the spear and still no growth. 

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Jeff985

I went to the place I bought it from and talked to their “arborists”. He said it’s planted too deep. I told him I planted it three inches above grade and he said I should have planted it four inches above grade. I’m not really buying that but I’ll go ahead and move some dirt away from the root ball. 

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OC2Texaspalmlvr

Wait the arborist is arguing over an inch, i find that hard to believe, would make such an immediate reaction to that palm. My guess if you said 4" he would've said 5" smh 

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Jeff985

Yeah. I think they just want to put the blame on me so they can avoid responsibility. It’s like I told them. I bought four and all but one are doing great. I don’t think I’m the problem. 

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OC2Texaspalmlvr

Its still possible of plain ol plant shock and could eventually grow out of it. Since it doesnt sound like they will be helping you out at all, your gonna have to keep a close eye on it =/ 

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Jeff985

I spoke with them again. They said if it dies they will give me another one at their cost. Since I can’t prove definitively that I didn’t cause the decline and they can’t prove I did, and the say up front that if they don’t plant it there’s no guarantee, I think this is agreeable. 

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OC2Texaspalmlvr

Sounds fair i suppose hopefully it pulls out of it. Where did you get them from ? 

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