fireblight observations

cousinfloydJune 4, 2012

As seems to be the case with several others on this list this year has been a bad fireblight year for me. I planted most of my apples and pears and Asian pears in the fall of 2007. Last year I had several little spots of fireblight on my Kieffer pear and then my Comice pear got some fireblight and despite my efforts to keep it pruned out it quickly spread and killed the whole tree. None of my other trees had any fireblight last year. This year all my pears (Euro and Asian) had fireblight. I had to prune my Moonglow back to a 3' tall stump with just a couple lower branches. It had the worst fireblight. It might be significant, however, that a cow got loose and broke the top out of my Moonglow a couple years ago, so there was lots of vigorous, younger growth on the Moonglow. The Kieffer had extensive fireblight damage this year. I had to prune out major scaffolds. It looks terrible now post-pruning, but there's more left than with the Moonglow. My Asian pears, two Korean Giants and three Shinkos, all took much less damage than my two remaining European pears (not counting several younger trees, none of which showed any problems) and should even produce some fruit this year. The Korean Giants might have taken a little more damage than the Shinkos, but none was really bad. With my apples I had no fireblight on my Gold Rush, Arkansas Black, Liberty, or Golden Delicious. The worst fireblight was on my Enterprise, then not quite as bad on the Stayman, and then pretty minor on the Brushy Mountain Limbertwig. This is the first year I've seen any fireblight on my apples. Another observation was that I seemed to have more fireblight on the limbs just past the sticks that I used to spread branches for better angles. It looks like the pressure against the bark cut off the flow of sap or something like that and that the limbs just past those points suffered for it.

My pears are mostly on the west side of my barn, so they're shaded by the barn for the first couple hours of the day. I wonder if good morning sun (maybe even exaggerated by an east-facing slope) would help to dry the dew off sooner and if that wouldn't reduce fireblight pressure.

I'd be interested in hearing about others' observations of relative fireblight susceptibility in unsprayed pears/Asian pears.

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This has been a very bad year for fireblight in my orchard as well, though only for my apples, with no strikes so far on any of my European or Asian pears, some of which grow in close proximity to the diseased apples. Particularly hard hit have been my Braeburn, Winesap, and Jonathan. I did not spray any antibiotics, and my copper sprays were late dormant, probably too early to have been very effective for this disease.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:09PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Creek, I also get it badly on apples but not on pears. I expect there are different strains and the one I have all the problems with is an apple-favoring strain. This year I have been finding a few strikes every time I visit the orchard, nothing ever major but always the half dozen strikes in my 150 or so dwarf trees.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:45PM
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austransplant(MD 7)

I have had almost no fireblight (save on a quince I removed) the last five years, but this year I have had extensive fireblight on apple trees. Interestingly, my Williams Pride and Enterprise -- both fireblight resistant varieties -- were both hit, though the disease seems to be contained. My Grimes Golden, next to them, showed no signs of problems. My pears have suffered virtually no damage.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:55PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Oh I am logging which apples are getting strikes, here is a list. Most trees are not getting any strikes and I am planning on thinning out the worst offenders to lessen the problem. I had no FB last year and that was my first quince-free year. Those guys are FB magnets. One thing I need to do is I believe there are two categories of sensitivity, one is on late blooms and the other is on shoots. Late bloomers nearly always get blight, but later in the summer they can be fine since it was only the blooms that was the problem. Blenheim Orange for example seems to mainly be a problem due to late blooms; is has been OK the last several weeks since all the blooms are finally gone.

Extremely sensitive:
Canada Reinette (removed)
Orleans Reinette (remove)
Red Berlepsch (remove)
Reinette du Mans
Court Pendu Plat

Very Sensitive:
Blenheim Orange
Fuero Rous (on late blooms only)
Rambour d'Hiver
Tydeman's Late Orange
Marie Menard
Reinette Armorique
Pigeonnet Rouge

Myers Royal Limbertwig
Claygate Pearmain
Pitmaston Pineapple
Cox's Orange Pippin
Yellow Bellflower
Gold Rush (but could be that it is too close to some baddies)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:55PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

I think we're seeing a lot of fireblight this year due to the wacky weather exposing the apple blossoms for an extended period.
Scott, you're scaring me with the Orleans Reinette concerns with fireblight.
I'll just have to keep a discriminating eye on it.

Triploid and fireblight prone, it better be good. :)


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:07PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Eric, Orleans Reinette has proved to be a big problem on the late blooms only; it has been clean for several weeks now. I am starting to wonder if it is not worth the effort to just trim off those late blooms in future years, the apples will be small anyway.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 8:14AM
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megamav(5a - NY)


Good tip, noted.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Interested to hear fireblight experience with any of the limbertwig varieties, especially black, brushy mtn and myers royal. Please email reply to



    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 9:15AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Black and Myers Royal have been good w.r.t fireblight - some of my most resistant apples.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 10:14AM
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I don't believe I had any more fireblight on any of my apples this year -- or if I did it wasn't enough to remember -- despite continuing problems (that really started in 2012, which I still think of as the really bad fireblight year) on my pears and Asian pears. Of the 3 European pears and 5 Asian pears, the Comice, as I already noted, caught fireblight and completely died in 2011, the cow-damaged Moonglow had severe fireblight again in 2013 so I finally took it out in favor of grafts that are in hopefully less fireblight prone microclimates, and I'll probably do the same with Kieffer soon once I get a couple grafts of it established elsewhere -- it had a lot of fireblight again, not quite enough to threaten to kill the whole tree but enough to take the whole pear crop. I think my 2 remaining Shinkos and 2 Korean Giants all had some fireblight again in 2013. I took out the one Shinko at the end of 2012 that fireblight had all but completely killed off by the end of that year. One of the other two Shinkos recovered from pretty bad 2012 damage in 2013, but I pretty much lost the other one in 2013, even though it had had the least damage in 2012. I lost a nice scaffold or two on the Korean Giants in the last couple years, along with several little spurs and tips, but in my very limited experience they seem to be a little less fireblight susceptible than Shinko. I think I read that the reverse is supposed to be true.

As far as Brushy Mountain limbertwig, I wouldn't be at all hesitant to plant it in a fireblight prone area. I wonder, though, if there are different strains of fireblight in different areas, some of which affect pears worse than apples. Oddly enough, the only apples that I might think twice about with regards to fireblight are Enterprise and Williams Pride, but as central a concern as fireblight is for me with pears, I have yet to see it being much of a serious threat with hardly any of my apples.

Steve, by the way, I got your e-mail, but it said, "(PLEASE NOTE: The member responding to your post has chosen not to reveal his or her email address. Therefore, you cannot reply to this message via email.)" I think I answered your questions here, but I'd be glad to communicate directly, too, if you want to send me your e-mail address.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:06AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Floyd, I strongly suspect there are different strains, some of which like apples more than pears and some vice-versa. I seem to only get the apple-bad strains, I have many fireblight susceptible pears but have almost no problems.

BTW I noticed in an old post above I put Myers Royal Limbertwig down as somewhat susceptible to FB but I think it was due to its location, it was surrounded by the most sensitive varieties. Since I removed those varieties it has had no fireblight. In general my view for the home grower is avoid the extremely susceptible varieties and you will be OK. All it takes is a few susceptible varieties to seed the infection and you will have mass outbreaks in all your apples for years to come.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:11PM
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