Fire Blight

oldgardenguy_zone6July 21, 2014

I have two apple trees that are three years old and started having browning leaves this spring after blooming ID as fire blight is there any thing I can do to get rid of it I have another tree on the other side of property that is not affected . I trimmed the dead foliage but found you have to remove the entire limb or it just keeps going down the branch

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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

I have many apples and pears that have fire blight on 5% of twig growth but up and down every main branch to the trunk. It has ceased but with a quarter of an inch from the branch or trunk of the tree. If i cut back more than 1/4 inch I cut the tree down.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:48PM
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You can do some reading from your university ag centers in your area for recommendations, but generally one prunes a FB branch back to the end of the visible disease plus another 6-12" (sterilize the cutters between cuts). If one does not do it soon enough, it is possible for the infection to spread back into the trunk.

Serenade is an organic pro-biotic that is supposed to be effective on FB (and apple rust). It works by out competing the bacteria for sites on the tree. I have used it this year and had only one branch/twig I needed to remove, which isn't a bad spring, but not conclusive. Copper based sprays are also supposed to be effective, but not sure if it can be used this time of year. The anti-biotic sprays are for blossom time only.

Talk here seems to be pointing towards eliminating FB susceptible trees and replacing them with resistant varieties. I have not yet had to remove any trees due to FB, as my trees recover and otherwise thrive if I just keep up on removing infected branches when they appear.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Steve/Oldgardenguy. I like Steve's approach to pruning back. This is the first spring that I used Serenade exclusively and it appears that Steve and I got similar results. I may add a few clay type sprays next spring to help with insect control at least until I can get my apples and pears bagged. I love the idea of organically grown fruit. This morning I picked a bagged apple off the tree, wiped it off and consumed it on the spot. Good luck, Bill

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:19AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Fireblight can be somewhere between trivial and impossible to get rid of. When I had many susceptible varieties I was spraying everything (including lots of Serenade) and was still getting nailed. With those varieties removed I spray nothing and only get the occasional localized strike. I don't even worry too much about removing strikes anymore, I am at a much lower level of bacterium overall and it doesn't spread like it used to. Your orchard susceptibility depends on many things: climate, untreated ornamental apples or pears nearby that may be infecting your trees, the particular weather that season, where the apples are planted, how open you have them pruned, the varieties, etc.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:26PM
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My neighbor across the street has two apples trees that are not cared for. (No pruning, spraying or picking up fallen apples, etc.). One of his trees is covered with fire blight this year and he's done nothing about. I had fireblight as well and managed to prune it out.

Will his untreated trees die from it in a year? It sounds like it will be a source of infection going forward. I was planning some streptomycin spray next year at bloom time to try to prevent it.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:20PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

streptomycin Is not only the answer but illegal for anyone other than a commercial orchardist.

My trees were all selected for there resistance to fire blight. I have decided that I am going to us a torch and burn the affected areas off to prevent spreading. These are twigs from the main trunk and every branch to the trunk. 6 inches in front leaves me with a 4 foot stump at 5 inch diameter. This tree is called a summer Rambo and produces sweet/Tart out-of-hand eating apples as early as June 3rd week. It is also my heaviest producer at 2-3 bushels per year. We will see. If it dies I will replace it with a peach tree. My tree is on M-111 root-stock to deal with the heavy clay soil and the occasionally 12 week rain-less periods in 90+ July-September. I also get no sun under 10 feet off the ground and need tall trees (first limb at 6 feet north & 12 feet south). Peach trees from seed grow well in low sun areas. They produce in 3 years from seed and the peaches taste very good despite seed grown. The tree picture in the link was started from seed in august, grew 8 inches before winter, I moved the 8 inch tree to its current site, and this is a picture of it in its first year. When I get back from my business trip I will post this years picture. i'll be harvesting next year. My wife and I together are 122 years old and can't wait 15 year for a M-111 root-stock apple tree to start producing.

Thanks for helping everyone and I'll hope for the best.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by poncirusguy on Thu, Jul 24, 14 at 22:17

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We bought a home that was nearing foreclosure on a short sale. It had been neglected for years, and the first thing people in trouble do is neglect the plants.

We couldn't save one grafted apple tree. It was one of those with 5 varieties... Complete fire blight. There is now a Ruby Red Grapefruit in it's place. Citrus are not affected by that disease.

An OLD Anna Apple waay down on the property also showed signs of the blight, but we cut HUGE branches off this very old tree, and gave it water and fertilizer. We had a few apples last year, and this year, bushels! I even had to buy an apple peeler, corer, slicer thing to help me contend with the harvest.

Color us stupid. Those Anna apples were so good, and we feared the blighted tree would die, so we planted another this spring on the other side of the acreage, far from the blight. My freezer is full of frozen apple pie filling. Not sure what I'll do with two producing trees!! What were we thinking?


    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 3:43PM
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"streptomycin Is not only the answer but illegal for anyone other than a commercial orchardist.".

When does streptomycin become illegal for home orchardist in the US, please?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Ferti-lome streptomycin is available but does have various state restrictions for shipping according to the Stark website. (Amazon has it, etc.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Ferti-lome

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 5:55PM
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alan haigh

The variables probably go well beyond anything Scott noted. I manage enough orchards at enough different sites to know that FB is unfathomable. I could go into details of unexplainable aspects of this disease but let it suffice to say that it is highly unpredictable.

Yes they've worked out charts to determine when it can happen (weatherwise) but no one can devise a chart that will show where it will happen. I usually get it at completely different sites every season so just because you get it once doesn't meant you have to worry about getting it there again, and just because you apply something and don't get it that year when you had it the year before doesn't mean the application had anything to do with it.

I agree with Scott about eliminating extremely susceptible varieties and I'm sure this varies from region to region but my biggest FB Mary has been quince.

If you want to read the best scholarly article I've found about FB, here's the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: controlling FB

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 6:00PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

I had my wife email me my picture of 3 of my 1.5 year old red haven peach trees from seeds. They are 8 feet tall and this variety will replace my summer Rambo if it dies

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Fire Blight, as I can see you know, can be quite a serious problem. I donâÂÂt have any special tips for dealing with it, but wish you well in eradicating it from your trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trimming

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 9:41PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

sharppa If you have a dry year next spring that tree may come out free of the fire-blight.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:21PM
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