The Q&A Archives: Pear Tree Fungus

Question: I have an old pear tree that started losing leaves in mid-August. The leaves were yellow with brown spots. After talking to a local nursery they said it was most likely a fungus. Since the leaves are now all gone, does the tree still have to be sprayed or will it hopefully come back in the spring without any damage? If it does need to be sprayed, when is the best time to do it? I'm concerned about the spraying since this tree is very close to my well.

Answer: Pear trees can develop scab disease just like apple trees. The best control is a preventative fungicide, in late winter and early spring, just as the leaves are emerging. The safest product is lime-sulfur (Bordeaux), sometimes marketed under the name "dormant spray". Since fungal spores can remain on tree limbs and branches it's important to thoroughly spray all parts of the tree. Follow the label directions and your tree should be scab-free next year.

Be sure to rake fallen leaves and fruit from beneath the tree this fall so rain water doesn't splash the fungal spores back up onto the tree.

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