Fireblight - geographic distribution

Fireblight is apparently much more prevalent in some parts of the United States and Canada than others.

I have the impression that it is most common in warm, humid areas (although I could certainly be misinformed).

Can someone fill me in on how fireblight danger varies by geographic location in North America?


Thats pretty much it - if it can get really warm and humid/rainy for stretches in the spring the fireblight is really bad. So, the south is the worst, the states bordering the south are next, northeast and midwest is next, then the west coast right by the coast (there the low humidity helps but cloudy/foggy areas can have big problem). Non-coastal CA and the west are less bad, but still it can be a problem almost anywhere if the weather is right.

Fireblight is a big time threat in central Alabama. In most cases fireblight is high on my priority list when getting new apple and pear varieties.

I’m in the Central Valley of CA and I’ve lost a number of pears and apples to fire blight. Bartlett is impossible to grow in my immediate area.

I’ve never had it in west Texas over 40 yrs. We have dry springs but do have hail which can spread it. Did once work with some apple growers near Clovis NM, also dry springs, and they were about wiped out by FB. They really pushed their trees like you would corn. Too much water and nitrogen.

It’s been unseasonably warm here in Tennessee for more than a week now and has rained every single day but one for the last week. All this right as my trees are leafing out. Last year I had fireblight that you wouldn’t believe. Two of my trees literally looked like they had been through a forest fire. On one old, full sized tree I had removed about 30% of the tree over winter so when it woke up the rest of the tree grew extremely vigorously. From what I know now that kind of vigorous growth probably made things worth in terms of fire blight, right? My trees did survive and I didn’t do any major pruning this winter so I was really hoping for a better year this year. But with extra warm temperatures and constant rain, from what you all are saying I’m probably looking at another bad year!

Auburn - Central Alabama is where I am. Any thing else major besides Fire blight to look out for?
Is there anything for the home owner to buy/spray to help keep it away? I always just see stuff for businesses to help treat some.

I personally never dealt with it, but my parents have. Parents lost a lot of their tree’s a few decades ago.

Any of the following to your knowledge have a extra/bad time here? All grafted/planted in the last 6 months.
Honey crisp, Fuji, Red delicious, Granny Smith, Sundance, Goldrush, Frostbite, Dolgo Dessert, Kaz 96 07-07, Sunrise(old cultivated one, not the new with same name), Roberts Crab, Lemoen, Duchess Favorite, Saltcote Pipin, Paraquet, Pink Pear, Suncrisp, Fireside, Harel Red, Tompkins King, Ribston Pippin, Kerry Pippin, Sweet Sixteen, Red jonathan, Yellow Delicious, Yates, Winesap

I’m learning every day on this forum and most any issues seem to be controllable if you are willing to stay after it. As of now fireblight and cedar apple rust (car) seem to be the worst for me. Recently I started using Serenade organic spray for both and the short-term results appear to be good. I live near Pell City and if I can help with my limited knowledge just ask. Bill

Which varieties had the worst blight for you?

Auburn U should have a list of both pear and apple varieties that are FB
prone in your area. Adhere to that list and stay away from high nitrogen fertilizer
and you shouldn’t have any problems.

The only way to really get rid of CAR is to eliminate all cedar trees that are near your property. They carry the gall that harbors the disease.

The two absolute worst were old, full sized trees that were here when I bought the place so I don’t know the varieties-but 1 was apple and one was pear. The worst of the trees I planted was a Gala Apple. It almost killed it. Only one main scaffold didn’t get it. The tips of every other limb on that tree were blackened. Another small Bartlett Pear also got it pretty bad. Pretty much all my pears and apples had 1/2 of more tips turn black and die. Very painful to watch. Thank goodness peaches don’t get it!

Cedar is all around me, nothing I can do about it… I have no problem with high-spraying as long as its not to scary of stuff, or expensive.

Fireblight has been terrible in my area of NC the past several years. I understand that many parts of the country not known for warm and wet conditions during the apple bloom period still suffer major outbreaks when weather conditions are right. Michigan had a huge outbreak around 1999 or 2000 that destroyed thousands of acres of apple trees. Even apple growing country in Washington state gets hit hard during a warm and wet bloom period. A big concern is antibiotic resistance to the bacteria that causes the blight. Fortunately streptomycin is still effective in my area, but it only last 3-5 days so multiple sprays are required. As I understand it, organic certification will eliminate the use of antibiotics on organic apples.

We can have a serious issue with Fireblight here in S. California. It is why I do not choose to grow the Bradford Flowering pear tree you see all over the place here in yards and commercial settings. I can often look up at the tops of those trees and see FB damage. I have had it once on my Seckel pear, which is supposed to be resistant to FB (which it is not). Cut it out, and so far, knock on wood, no more signs. But, I watch carefully every bloom season. Streptomycin is still effective in my area that I am aware of, and have a jar ready to use if needed. It’s a pain because you have to time it just right, and as Rick mentions, you need several applications per tree, all timed differently based on each of my cultivars’ bloom times. Ugh.

I am in year 3 of growing apples here in north GA with around 50 - 2nd and 3rd year trees, all different varieties. Some of the varieties are listed as somewhat susceptible but I have stayed away from the ones on the highly susceptible list like Granny Smith and Jonathon. No problems last year with FB but I did a couple of copper sprays and a few with streptomycin. We have had 3 or 4 days of heavy rain the last 2 weeks and temps in the 70’s and 80’s while some of the trees are in full bloom so this year will be a good test to see if I can keep FB at bay. One of the challenges I am realizing is with so many varieties, the trees range now from silver tip to some starting petal fall. Thus some will be ready for insecticide shortly where there may be another variety 5 feet away in full bloom, not sure how I am going to handle that yet.


I sprayed streptomycin during flowering in 2013 and had no fireblight. Serenade was used for 2014 with no fireblight. I have more varieties blooming this spring and the serenade should get a better test. I’m hoping that the serenade ends up being a good organic approach to fireblight control. An additional benifit is that it appears to keep CAR under control. Bill

I was just reading the UC Davis factsheet about FB susceptible varieties. I have planted the most susceptible ones - Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and a 5 in 1 Asian Pear! :fearful: My aunt who lives about 4 miles away has had bad cases of FB.

Chris. I’m guessing that you will be ok. Although I have read about fireblight being spread after a hail storm, most of my past issues seem to be shortly after the new fruit sets. My thoughts are if you control it at the entry point there is not much to be spread around the remainder of the year. Time will tell if my serenade spray is a good solution on my less resistant varieties. Bill

Same problem here. My neighbor has several cedar trees within 30’ of my apple trees. CAR can almost destroy a tree as it did a few of the ones I have. Last year I sprayed serenade a few time as they were leafing out and I only had a few spots of CAR. Bill