Here are five fire blight facts you should know:
Fire blight is a bacterial disease that tends to impact apple trees, pear trees, and rose bushes in particular. Additionally, plants such as mountain ash, hawthorn and raspberry, can be vulnerable to infection.
Fire blight is a fitting name for this disease because the flower petals on infected plants tend to take on a burnt or scorched appearance. Early symptoms usually manifest as wilted, brownish flower blossoms or dark, shriveled fruit.
Eventually as the disease progresses, reddish, oozing patches of bacteria may form. These patches, known as cankers, can ultimately be fatal to trees and plants.
Warm, rainy weather (between 75°F and 85°F) creates the ideal conditions for fire blight to thrive. Winter wind and hail can injure plants and trees, resulting in open tissue wounds that provide the ideal home for fire blight bacteria invasion.
Then, come warm, moist spring weather, the bacteria often travels from plant to plant by way of honeybees and other insects. Rain that splashes from one plant to another also may spread the disease.
There are various ways to prevent fire blight:
- Choose your cultivars wisely. Certain varieties of apple and pear trees are more susceptible than others; you can check with your local nursery or gardening store for further information as to which species are most at risk and avoid these varieties all together.
- Spray susceptible trees and plants with a copper fungicide in early spring, Ideally the sprays should be applied before the first flower buds form.
- Avoid excess nitrogen & excess pruning. Both of these practices promote quick tree growth and the fresh tissue of young trees is more vulnerable to infection. Practice good pruning and fertilizing methods and don’t over-do either of them.
In the case that blighted spots form despite prevention efforts, these spots should be carefully pruned out as soon as they emerge to keep the disease from spreading further. Winter is a good time to prune out any discolored spots because the bacteria is dormant at that time. It is recommended to remove at least 6-8 inches of tissue beyond the infected spot to save the tree trunk and limbs.
Always make sure to sanitize the pruning tools you use to remove the infection, otherwise you might just unintentionally wind up spreading the disease further.
Do you have any issues or concerns with fire blight? Want to talk to an expert for some further advice? Give us a call at Detailed Landscape and we will help you get to the root of the matter.