Fire Blight Disease

Fire Blight

Learn how to identify and get rid of fire blight using these proven, organic and natural treatments.

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Named for the scorched appearance of infected leaves, fire blight is a destructive bacterial disease (Erwinia amylovora) found on apples, pears and other members of the rose family. The disease enters the tree at the tips of the branches and then travels down the stems causing dieback. It attacks soft new growth first, so you would notice dieback at the top of the plant.

Most infected leaves and branch tips wilt rapidly turn brown or black; the leaves die but do not drop off. Trees will also develop reddish water soaked lesions on the bark. On warm days, these lesions ooze an orange-brown liquid. Fire blight kills blossoms, shoots, limbs and sometimes, the entire tree.

The bacteria overwinters in infected bark and is spread by splashing rain, dew, wind and insects. It spreads rapidly in moist, warm weather, especially during bloom.

Treatment

  • Select resistant varieties whenever possible.
  • Avoid heavy pruning or excess applications of nitrogen fertilizer, both of which encourage new growth.
  • Avoid planting close to wild plants of hawthorn, apple or pear.
  • As soon as fire blight is discovered, prune off infected branches 1 foot below the diseased sections and burn them to prevent further infection. Dip pruning shears into a 10% alcohol or bleach solution between each cut to avoid transmitting the disease from one branch to another.
  • Early applications of liquid copper are effective against this plant problem. Mix 0.5 to 2.0 oz per gallon of water and apply at silver tip and bud break — repeat at 3 to 5 day intervals up to petal fall. Use the lower rate if disease pressure is light and the higher rate when conditions favor heavy disease pressure.
  • Bacterial spread can be reduced by applications of products that contain Streptomyces lydicus as the active ingredient. To obtain best disease control, applications should be made at the start of the bloom period and every five to seven days thereafter.
  • SERENADE Garden is a broad spectrum, preventative bio-fungicide recommended for the control or suppression of many important plant diseases. For best results, treat prior to foliar disease development or at the first sign of infection. Repeat at 7-day intervals or as needed.
  • The systemic action of Organocide® Plant Doctor moves throughout the entire plant to treat most common disease problems. Mix 2-1/2 to 5 tsp per gallon of water and apply to foliage. Spray to run-off, as required for disease control.

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