Fire Blight Outbreak Affects Area Flowering Pears

Mild spring temperatures and abundant moisture have created favorable conditions for Fire Blight.  Flowering Pears throughout North Central Texas are symptomatic, making this the largest outbreak in more than ten years.  Caused by the bacterium, Erwinia amylovora, Fire Blight is a disease that primarily affects Pears, Apples, and closely related plants.  While Bradford and Aristocrat Flowering Pears are known to be resistant to Fire Blight, both named varieties have not been able to escape this year’s outbreak.

Fire Blight in DFW - 2012

Fire Blight is easily recognized by the scorched appearance of leaves, fruit, and stems

Fire Blight is easily recognized.  It derives its name from the scorched appearance of affected foliage, fruit, and stems.  Infected tissue rapidly turns black and leaves and fruit droop from their attachment to stems.  While there may be some leaf drop, most of the damaged leaves remain in the tree canopy.

Fire Blight in DFW 2012

When Fire Blight infection sites are spread throughout the canopy, disease management by pruning is impractical

Pollinating insects commonly spread Fire Blight from tree to tree, as they travel from flower to flower.  While there is no “cure” for Fire Blight, it can be successfully managed with carefully timed spray applications of bactericides.  Those spray applications will be necessary next spring, just as the flower buds begin to open.  Fight Blight can also be managed by removing infected twigs and branches.  However, pruning is only practical when infections are isolated.  This year’s outbreak has affected most of the canopies of Flowering Pears and much of the interior foliage, making the pruning of infected tissue unrealistic.

Fire Blight symptoms first appeared in North Central Texas during the last week of March and became wide spread in less than two weeks.  If your Flowering Pears are showing symptoms of Fire Blight and need to be addressed, contact the Arborilogical Services office by calling at 866-55-ARBOR, or complete a service request.

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