We have a purple, fruitless plum which I believe is called a Thundercloud Plum. It has always had beautiful flowers and full leaves, including this year. Some large chunks of bark have begun to peal this spring and summer, however, and there are globs of amber sap oozing out in several places. I'm afraid either last summer's dryness or some type of borer are killing the tree. Should I be worried and what can I do?

Generally speaking, plum trees are relatively short lived trees. The three major culprits of the trees are scale, borers and bacterial canker. It sounds like your tree has become infected with bacterial canker. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do for bacterial canker other than keep the tree in a healthy, active state of growth. I am sure the dry weather brought some of this on and it may be that with a renewed program of good water and fertilizer the tree may come back. If the tree does not respond with renewed vigor, then it will be time to cut this tree down and start over. Water the tree at least once a week for 8 to 12 hours until the fall rains arrive. Next year apply one pound of ammonium sulfate per inch of trunk diameter in early spring. If the tree responds, great!! If not then you need to start over.

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