The dreaded F word (Fireblight) is showing up in our orchards


With signs of fireblight showing up in our orchards I think it would be a good time to talk about this serious topic that we deal with. We all can learn from each other as to what has been working or not working. All input is welcome.

For the last few years I have been fortunate to escape most FB but this season I am seeing it pop up in a few places (mostly apples). At this point I am carefully cutting it out and disinfecting my tools between cuts. As I get more varieties of apples blooming I suspect that FB control will become increasingly important.


Early spring Copper sprays are my most effective weapon against FB. The trees are pretty angry over their fruit production being minimized and bloomed a second time which puts we at twice the risk! The second bloom seldom fruits and if it does the pears are small. I’m growing pears such as Comice, forelle, abate fetel this year to name a few of my risky varieties and I will let you know how it goes. Typically my pears are not in any danger until they grow quickly or bloom. FB only hits rapidly growing tissue such as blossoms or spring growth.


I’d love to hear more about FB, especially to see pictures in different stages of development and affecting different parts of the tree. I just started apples and never actually met FB yet, but want to be on alert for early signs.


This is a few videos about dealing with fireblight. I didn’t post these because he has any special insite but because he is struggling with the same issues as we are.


Here is a late season fireblight post I did from a couple of years ago Late season Fireblight


I’m seeing the same thing with my late apple blooms. I have started removing the buds/blooms as soon as I see them. This is a lot easier for a back yard grower than a person with hundred of trees to contend with.


One thing I did early on was select FB resistant pears for planting and I believe that I have had less issues with FB by doing so. I recently removed an unknown Asian pears that was getting a few strikes this year. There are several good choices of FB resistant pears and not all of them are the hard Orient or Kieffer.


That’s true nowadays Bill new pears such as gem are said to be hard but very good which was released in 2015 & 2016 . There is nothing wrong with hard pears either. Most hybrids are hard and course but typically not melting and spicy like a few Europeans. They claim Potomac is the danjou that is fireblight resistant but time will tell. There are others but thus far forelle, abate fetel, Comice, clapps favorite are hard pears to match with fireblight resistant types. Magness and warren are reportedly really close. I added a half dozen magness last year. My little yellow pear is good but it won’t ship well and it’s to small for the commercial market.


Thanks for the videos. This is the first year I’ve had it this bad. My granniwinkle tree is covered in it while the branches of Springdale,Stein, and Freyburg aren’t bothered, at least yet.


My primary weapon against fireblight has been removing susceptible varieties. I have removed around 50 apple varieties which had bad fireblight issues, and all quince and medlar. I don’t get much fireblight on pears ever, not sure why.

I don’t spray anything for fireblight now; when I had it badly I sprayed everything (copper, antibiotics) any it probably kept things from getting even worse but I was still getting a great many strikes. If you are getting a minority of your varieties with heavy damage you will have much better results removing those as opposed to spraying. Also pruning more open helps.

This spring I topworked King David as it had blighted consistently every year for five years in a row. Outta here! Now I am concerned about Gilpin, it got several blossom strikes this spring. But its a young tree and I will see how it matures.


Have you posted your most unwanted fire blight varieties somewhere in the past?. It would be nice if we could see that list here.

Although the same variety in different locations may be more (or less) susceptible to fire blight depending to other factors like bloom time, weather (wet vs dry), etc., it is good to know what not work in your area as a starting point. Thanks.


Just removed Anna apple. It had several FB strikes.


This is looking like a worse than usual blight year here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, at least for me and some friends. One of my only grafts to fail this year out of several hundred around the county was King David. I was in a devil may care mood when I grafted it against better judgment and am now glad it failed.

I have a Red Royal Limbertwig three year old apple growing at a friend’s house next to blight magnet/covered in blight big old Rome yet the RRLT is spotless. Very interesting.

On the list to remove grafts: Democrat, Benham. Aunt Rachel and Hall are on probation.


I grafted in a few scions of King David. You and Scott has FB in it so I will give it a year or two in my area just to see if the location matters.


I expect a bad year for FB too. We had very warm and wet weather during my apple bloom period. I see just a few strikes so far, but the FB prediction model for my area indicated “Infection” almost constantly. Bloom +wetting event + average temp of 60 degrees or more + FB bacteria in the area = major FB problem!

I’m more focused on reducing the potential for FB since my major outbreak a few years ago. After following all the suggestions this year I hope my damage is limited. Copper+Agri-mycin+Apogee = ???


I’ve been pruning out fb strikes on a nearly daily basis. I have not noticed much difference in strike rates among varieties. So far no major limb losses or trunk infections - fingers crossed. Late bloom due to poor chilling has encouraged infections. The Bradford pears are eaten up with it all around town.


I could be wrong but I think that cutting out the FB as they occur helps reduce the need for larger limb removal. I’m with you on the low chill hours causing the late bloom and the increase in FB occurances.


My preferred weapons against Fireblight are a pair of eyes and pruning shears. I make sure to walk my orchard daily in spring, especially on warm days, and I prune off any Fireblight before it spreads. This has always kept Fireblight from seriously injuring any trees. Never felt the need to spray.

Fortunately this year it was dry while pears were blooming, but a late rain hit the apples and quince. Then all it took was one little heat wave to active the blight. Pink Lady, Alkamene, Freyburg and St. Edmund’s Pippin had a lot of damage, but fortunately I didn’t have to cut any primary scaffolds off.


Tippy I sporadically wrote things down so I don’t have complete info. Here are a few I recorded.

Orleans Reinette (late bloom problem)
King David
Red Berlepsch
Canada Reinette
Pretty much all European cider apples

In my orchard this afternoon I also noticed a lot of problems on Bonne Hotture and Weisser Wintertaffelapfel. Both of these had lingering late blooms. All of this FB could be avoided if I just picked off all late blooms, but its a lot of work so I don’t do it. Nearly all the strikes I have this year are bloom strikes; I had a few minor tip strikes.


Thanks, Scott,
I grafted King David last year and Bonnie Hotture this year so I will keep a closer eye on them. This spring is quite wet and cold. Hopefully when temp warms up next week, it will be drier.