Massive fireblight in my orchard

dethride(7a / 6b GA)April 20, 2012

All my pomes are affected. I have a small hobby orchard with 9 trees and the apples were hardest hit, the pears are lightly hit.

My 19 year-old G. Delicious was covered with blossoms and nearly all are affected. I did one cover of strep a fwe weeks ago, but my poor health got in the way of any more. By the time I got back down there, the damage was done.

Does this mean I have to lop off ALL the main branches back to long stubs? Can it shrug it off? The blight is all up and down the blossoms on the branches and if I cut them, it will erase 12 years of work and care. I know I might lose it if I don't, but is there any chance? Or, just bite the bullet and saw away?

I get nothing from my orchard this year. The late freeze killed all my fruitlets and blossoms. This is a tough hobby to confront sometimes.


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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I'm really sorry to hear that man. FB can be a crushing blow. Makes these freezes everyone complains about sound like a stroll in the park.

I'd think you'd need to try to prune it out. But if it's everywhere nothing may help. I hope you have a resistant rootstock or the whole tree could be dead in a couple months.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 3:14PM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

I'm sorry to hear that Herbert! I hope some of the trees will survive. -Glenn

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Ouch. With a couple blighted blossoms I often just leave them or yank off the blossom only. But if you had nearly all blossoms infected you may not have any spur wood on the branches so it may be better to just cut it all out (and lower risk of re-infection). Blossom infections rarely infect the rest of the tree, maybe one in a hundred do, and they can be cut back further if they do.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 10:54AM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

Thanks guys.

I'm going to cut all the small branches back and leave some buds to regrow. It should grow and flower in a couple of years, just in time for the next d**m freeze and fireblight strike.

What a heartache.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:28PM
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alan haigh

I would definitely cut it out, but I've never had it strike my blossoms- it's always on shoots. It has never threatened the lives of any of the many apple trees I manage that have been struck. I've even had major cankers spread into big wood on a site where the owner didn't want to pay to cut them out and the FB hasn't returned the last couple of years there anyway.

At that site it affected the apples and not the pears also, which weirdly has been as often the case as for it to hit pears and not apples.

It's most threatening to apple trees on dwarfing root stocks (if they're not of the Geneva series).

This is about the most comprehensive and intelligent thing I've seen written about fire blight.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:30PM
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Dethride, All of my apple trees have also been covered with fire blight this year despite several copper and other sprays when dormant and at bloom, etc. I have debated removing the apple trees as mine just don't do well in this part of Georgia due to fire blight and it is becoming more trouble than it is worth. I may just take the hours drive north to ellijay in the fall where in the "mountains" they grow delicious apples and sell them at roadside stores.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Are you sure it is fireblight on the blooms? Could it be cold damage?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 9:24PM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

I agree, scottsmith. Good info and advice. I have wondered how your "Suntan" apples did. I had to draw a line as to whether to get more trees and it fell on the negatory side. (insert frowny face here)

Thanks, Glenn. Good to be back around this great site. How did your trees do?

H'man, thanks for the great link and advice.

Randy, I wondered the same thing. I snapped off some blossoms and there is an orange ooze at the break. Some of the blossoms escaped damage and they are very high off the ground on long branch tips. Clue?

GAredneck, come on up! Mercier's Orchard is near me and I would like to know how they did thru the freeze and fireblight conditions.

Herbert, bummed.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:52AM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

I see oozing cankers (little white nib, then turns brown and stains the bark) on many big limbs and they are close to the main trunk. I am thinking I need to get radical and hack away, but it will reverse over a decade of training and care.

When one sees a canker that close to the trunk, is it a given to cut off the limb?

This rain ain't helping.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:02AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Herbert, I usually just chip away at them and at some point they stop oozing. But, thats not the "recommended" approach.

I just got nailed in the last day or two, three apple trees with some very late blooms got hammered and lots of minor damage spread around. Its the first time in several years I have had trees nailed like this.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:47PM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

Scott, yeah, that's what I'm doing. I see a dying branch, off it comes.

The pear is the worst. I may end up with a stumpy, three-legged thing before it's all over with.

Yes, worst year ever!

BTW, how did your "Suntan" apple do?


    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Herbert, the Suntan I had died and then the re-graft died; I hopefully am on the successful tree now but it was grafted last year.

The fireblight has continued to nip me this spring, no big strikes but lots of little ones.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Herbert, so sry about your orchard. Harvestman posted an excellent article which can help us all.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 3:25PM
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