Apple Tree Issue After Thinning - Fire blight?

rossnJune 21, 2014

This is a third year honeycrisp apple tree in the Denver area. It produced a number of fruit this year, and after some research, I thinned the tree and did some experimental bagging (both paper and plastic).

A few weeks later, I started to notice some areas of the tree that had stubs or limbs that were dying... often surrounding the area where the fruit were thinned.

Is this fire blight or something else? I was under the impression honeycrisp was moderately resistant towards fire blight, so I'm surprised it affected so many areas of the tree? If it is fire blight, how do I treat/remove it? It will be a bummer if I have to remove some of the main scaffolding branches!


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additional photo

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:07PM
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additional photo

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:08PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I would suspect that is FB. Pruning it out is about all you can do at this point. But if it were mine I'd dissect some of those spurs/branches and see if it shows up as cambium damage.

I could be wrong and hope so. Sorry about your trials and tribulations.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:02PM
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Did you thin with little clippers or pruners? It is fireblight, and you may have spread it with contaminated pruners. Cut these branches back 6-8" into the good wood, disinfecting your pruners with a small butane torch or lighter. Keep any eye on the stubs for re-infection.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:29PM
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Fruitnut - Thanks. Any pointers on what I'm looking for with cambium damage? What does that type of damage indicate?

Applenut - I had been using my felco bypass pruners. What do you mean by little clippers, and are they less likely to spread fire blight? When using pruners, I did disinfect the pruners with lysol spray before doing the thinning. I didn't disinfect between each cut, as I had not seen evidence of fire blight. Is this a valid approach, or should I handle differently? Is the lysol spray as effective as a torch? Also... from the photos... some of the stubs that have fire blight are pretty short and lead to one of the future scaffolding branches (similarly, there is one near the top of the leader). The first photo is a good example of this. Do I need to remove these scaffolding branches (to 6-8" inside of the last fire blight)?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 1:42PM
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