Answer: I'm afraid I can't give you a diagnosis of the problem, but I understand your confusion -- it seems odd that the mildewy symptoms are confined to the stems. Perhaps the problem is fireblight, a bacterial disease. It causes leaves and stems to suddenly wilt and die back. If the problem is fire blight, then pruning is necessary. Before you make that move, though, call your county extension Master Gardeners (ph# 414/475-2200) or a reputable nursery in your area and ask someone to take a look at the tree and make a diagnosis. Best of luck!
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