Pear trees with black edges on leaves

I’m a new pear grower in southern California. I received these two 4 ft bare root trees from raintree in January and planted them in the ground after soaking the roots in water. One is harrow delight and the other is Korean giant. They had no branches and no leaves when I received them. The new leaves emerged about a month ago and looked great. At some point these black edges started to appear on many of the leaves, more so on the harrow delight. They do not look like fire blight (I only know what fire blight looks like on apples). It’s been raining a lot in southern California this past week, but I am unsure of the timing of the black edges in relation to the rainy weather. I dormant spayed both trees with copper before any leaves or buds emerged.

The first two photos are from the harrow delight. The last photo is the Korean giant. I’ve looked carefully for pests but noted none except for minimal aphids that were easily fixed with some soap and water spray. Could this be due to soap?? I use very mild/ diluted dish soap on everything for aphids and never had a problem.

I’ve had that in the past. Not sure what it is but I took off the black leaves and sprayed copper on it and if I remember right it seemed to help.
Check out below link:


Thanks for the link. None of those pictures seem to match what I have. Did you spray copper directly on the unaffected leaves as well? I thought I’m not supposed to spray copper on leaves.

I’m no expert. I used Bonide copper soap version (Octanoate? ) I’ve used it on actively growing trees without any issues.

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That’s pretty common here. Just spray the entire tree with a fungacide and it should keep it from spreading. I have to spray for that every year. It’s a minor issue though.

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I’m having the same issue with my trees. Put them in 18 months ago. Had the black leaves issue last year, looks like it’s back. What could this be? I have Copper (weak, the Bonide stuff), and Chlorothalonil. I could also bite the bullet and but Kocide 3000 if need be.

I had leaves like this on my Asian pears too. Sprayed copper, lime sulfur and dormant oil this winter. Will see if it returns.

I never figured out the cause. If you Google “black edges on pear leaves”, everything under the sun was diagnosed. Here are some that I can remember being diagnosed, even though they all look identical in pictures:

Fire blight
A variety of blights
Spider mites
Leaf scorch
Environmental stress

I decided to go DEFCON 1 with everything I got, including copper, streptomycin, tebuconazole, chlorothalonil, dormant oil, neem oil, and spinosad during last year’s growing season and this past dormant season. They didn’t get any worse and some of the leaves that grew afterward were spared. Unsure if what I did made any difference. My pears are still dormant and growing very slowly so I can’t tell you if the problem returned.


I think that the photos that both of you shared are ‘leafspot disease’, they start out as black spots on the leaves and the entire leaves turn black, I had it last year and it seems like insects spread it to the leaves when they chew on the leaves, in our case insects spreading it from Bradford pear trees, there are plenty of them in our area. I pulled the blackening leaves off as I has seen them, and the trees were fine. I have no idea if your trees are as resistant to it as mine are.


When new growth dries up and dies and then stops the issue is often pear psyla, the most common debilitating pear pest in the northeast. They are quite small aphid-like insects that require magnification to see clearly, at least for my eyes.

This article covers the issue and shows that psyla are also a problem in the west. Surround seems to be quite effective as a suppressant although the article doesn’t mention it. Even conventional commercial growers will sometimes use Surround for psyla control- it is a huge problem once it arrives in orchards. I grew pears in my orchard for several years before observing them.

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How often is the Surround applied? Cover the leaves all summer?

Focus on the growing shoots- that is where the psyla go because there is more protein there. Do a dormant oil spray at 2%-3% just when pears say they are about to grow or at first sign of any green, then another hort-oil spray at tight cluster (green flower buds) but not more than 2%. then if you do about 3 Surround sprays starting at pedal fall and 10-14 days apart and I think trees will be adequately protected, but you can hit them with oil and Surround if you start to see too much damage in summer. At summer base it on what you see. If you want to protect pears from other spring insect pests you should tighten up the Surround apps a bit. I’ve always done 4 a week apart but one year the person I had doing the Surround apps did it every 2 weeks into summer and the fruit was fine. Maybe just luck, but I’m not an expert on least sprays with Surround.

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Many thanks Alan!

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Happened again this year. I’m starting to believe it’s heat related stress. The leaves turned black and shriveled up as soon as the weather hit 95+ degrees. My Asian pear (Olympic Korean giant) only had a few leaves affected (first year getting fruits on it!). Unfortunately my harrow delight got hit hard, about 75% of leaves are black… The branches and stems all look fine. Doesn’t look like fire blight to me, compared to my apple trees and neighbor’s Bradford that were heavily damaged by fire blight every few years.

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Thank you, that’s very interesting. My summer temperatures here in west Vista are more moderate than yours, so I might give Harrow Delight a try.

Water stress will do that to a lot of trees. Do you have irrigation set up?

Doesn’t look like water stress… Nothing is drooping. Leaves just look burnt. I have drip irrigation running every 5 days during the summer. My avocados are happy and they generally need more water than pome fruit trees.

@Richard I get about 400-600 chill hours at my 1000ft elevation. Harrow delight is delicious. I wait until the fruit gets slightly soft near the stem, then I pick them and leave them on my kitchen counter for a day or two and then they’re delicious.

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I’m getting 200 chill hours in a good year and my Hood pear is producing fine. Apricots on the other hand …