Fire Blight

Fire Blight typically affects trees in the Rosaceae family (Flowering Pear, Crabapple, Hawthorne, etc.). It causes discoloration, die back and death. While there is no cure, early detection, prevention and proper pruning can help reduce the spread.

What is Fire Blight?

Fire Blight is caused by a bacteria (Erwinia amylovora) that causes fruit loss, destruction of limbs or whole trees.

It spreads through infected sap dripped, carried by wind or spread by bees. Warm and moist conditions are ideal for this disease to spread.

Trees are especially at risk if a freeze occurs after they have begun to bloom

It can cause canopy loss and death of the tree. Once the disease is present it may harbor in the tree indefinitely. There is no cure.

What are the symptoms of Fire Blight?

– Watery tan colored sap that forms as the bacteria is spreading

– Blackened and dying leaves

– Wilted shoots

– Cankers on twigs and branches

– A scorched or burnt appearance to leaves and canopy

Leaf Die Back
Oozing Sap
“Burnt” Canopy
Photos: Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Janna Beckerman

How is Fire Blight treated?

– Dormant pruning of deadwood for general health of tree and prevention.

– Pruning of infected trees to remove diseased areas

– Antibiotic trunk injections to help control bacteria, although this will not cure the disease

– Soil surfactant to encourage deeper absorption of nutrients

– Removal of infected trees if the disease has affected the main stem and the tree cannot be saved and should be removed to prevent spread

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