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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
fire blight on apple

Prepare for Fire Blight Management in Apples and Pears

Posted by John Fulton -

We have had several years of increasing problems with fire blight in both pears and apples. Fire blight often shows as the newest year growth looking like you took a torch to it. As a reminder, fire blight is caused by a bacterium. This means fungicide sprays are not effective for management of the disease. Copper is an effective bactericide and almost any copper material is effective in reducing the primary inoculum at bloom time. Examples of copper containing compounds would include Bordeaux mix, Kocide, and Copper Count-N. The timing for this treatment would be at tight cluster to early pink stage, which means just before blooms open. Applying right now is a bit premature in most areas, but the application time is coming right up. Knowing that, you can begin to locate a source if you are wanting to – or needing to spray.

This program won't completely control fire blight, especially if you have had moderate or severe problems in the past. There are additional treatments with streptomycin antibiotic for commercial growers to help control blossom infections recommended. The same goes for shoot tip infections and timing is very critical, and really beyond a home orchard or ornamental program.

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