The Q&A Archives: Pyrus Kawakamii - fireblight

Question: I would like to plant a Pyrus Kawakamii in my backyard, and have gotten different information from various nurseries. I am worried about fireblight. Is this a real problem? Some say yes and others say no. Is there anything you can do to avoid the problem before it starts? Also, is this tree really evergreen? Some say it's semi-evergreen. I would like to plant it in front of a west facing 6' high fence, under a very large Jacaranda tree. How much sun must it have to do well? I live near Bellflower, north of Pacific Coast Hwy. in east Long Beach. I would really like to use this tree, but am a little afraid of some of the things I have read. I want something about 15 feet tall, evergreen, unbrella shape. Thanks for your help!!

Answer: Most pear tree varieties, including Asian pears (with the exception of Shinko) and red pear varieties, are very susceptible to fire blight. Varieties of ornamental pear trees that are less susceptible to fire blight are Bradford, Capitol, and Red Spire; Aristocrat is highly susceptible, as is Kawakamii.

Fire blight development is influenced primarily by seasonal weather. When temperatures in the range of 75? to 85?F are accompanied by intermittent rain and hail, conditions are ideal for disease development. The succulent tissue of rapidly growing trees is especially vulnerable. Thus, excess nitrogen fertilization and heavy pruning, which promote such growth, should be avoided. Trees should not be irrigated during bloom. Monitor trees regularly, and promptly remove and destroy fire blight infections. If fire blight has been a problem in the past, apply blossom sprays. Sprays prevent new infections but will not eliminate wood infections; these must be pruned out. In years when weather conditions are very conducive to fire blight development, it may be difficult if not impossible to control the disease.

If you really want to grow an ornamental pear, choose one of those less susceptible and practice good garden sanitation, and your trees should be just fine.

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