How do I treat "fire blight"? - Knowledgebase Question

Conway, Ar
Avatar for gdmayf
Question by gdmayf
July 1, 2010
I have an old pear tree which is diseased with fire blight in which limbs begin drying up from the tip inward.
Is there any way to eliminate this disease? If not, is it feasible to keep the tree growing and producing. It is really loaded with fruit this year--can this fruit be safely harvested with the blight?

Answer from NGA
July 1, 2010
Fire blight is a bacterial infection that spreads rapidly. All infected twigs, branches and cankers should be removed from the tree. Prune well back--6-8"--from evidence of infection. That is, if you see signs of infection on the last 6" of the branch, prune off 12-14" to be sure you are removing all infected material. Be sure to disinfect your pruning tools after each cut. Use one part household bleach to nine parts water, or dip your cutting tools in pure alcohol after each cut. After you've removed the infected plant parts you can help protect the remainder of the tree by spraying with a lime-sulfur (Bordeaux) dormant spray. You'll need to spray your tree every year to protect it from fire blight. Be sure to follow directions on the label for timing of the spray applications. The disease will probably stop your tree from ripening the fruit so I don't think the fruit will ripen but if it does, it will be safe to eat. Good luck with your project!

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