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


More strikes. I had to take out a big branch.


The photos people post are very helpful in identifying this disease


That’s terrible you had to remove that branch, but it looks like the right thing to do. I think I can see the bark on the branch is already discolored where the shoot meets the branch, meaning the branch is already infected.


Been there done that. On an earlier strike, I was being over optimistic and pruned too little. The cut section started oozing the next day!


I’ve heard mention that very high temps (95 F or higher) “knock out” fireblight for the season. I seem to have far less strikes than people in more moderate climate zones. We just had a couple of weeks in the 90’s some of these days were over 95. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some casualties on younger trees and we have a host of other problems in South Georgia. Just an observation and perhaps some encouragement for others living in the Deep South to try growing some of these southern pears and apples.


Lots of blight here on Black Limbertwig and Virginia Beauty. Next week’s weather is ideal for blight: cool and wet. Oh well. Am using Clark’s tip of snapping twigs off to avoid spreading blight with pruners.


I have a lot of shoot blight now. We have had a huge drought for maybe a month or more. Not enough rain when it did come down to make any difference in the ground ( 1 tenth of an inch of rain or less each time). I look at my trees every few days. We had a few days of tremendous rainfall. In two days time we had over 2 1/2 inches of rain one day and a little over 1" of rain the next day. Forward to three days later , today I see a LOT of shoot blight. It is amazingly sad to see such damage in such short time. The Japanese beetles are horrible this year. The trees were constantly being attacked with the Japanese beetles. I have gone through three cycles of replacing the JB traps I have in my orchard areas. The bags were completely full of them.
Could these Japanese beetles carry BF? I have had my trees in the ground from 2013 and a few more trees have been planted each year since then. Many have shoot blight. Some a lot more than the others. Not sure what caused it this year over the other years I had these planted. I have never had FB issues before in all my 40 years of growing fruit. I have been VERY lucky I guess. Now my heart just sinks looking at the shoot blight I see in my trees.
I will take the pruners out tomorrow to do more damage control. I see many different views on what to do-taking the branches off by cutting, breaking the branches off, sanitizing the pruners before and after the cuttings, leaving the pruners in the bleach solution longer than 30 seconds, leaving the branches on and cutting those branches off in the fall. Many different opinions. I am not sure any of these ways are wrong. It is a micro bacteria so we are just taking a best guess at what is working for us. What works this may not work next time. I see that in the comments as well. This FB issue is frustrating and so costly in time and fruit production.


Don’t know that I have any real solutions but while doing my daily walk through my orchard I’m on the lookout for dark leaves. When I see anything even remotely looking like FB I break it off. I have a few varieties of apples that should be susceptible to FB and these are checked closely. Most of my other apple varieties are rated to have some resistance to FB. My long range plans are to eliminate the ones that consistently get heavy damage.


Japanese beetles will carry infection with them. You really have the perfect storm in your area because your trees are stressed from the drought, some moisture exists, you have a beetle that is the spreading agent, the fireblight bacteria is present. I’ve been in that situation and the destruction can be overwhelming. Set the beetle traps away from your trees, spray the beetles present with carbyl or something similar, break off fireblight branches and burn them in the bbq grill. Don’t infect your tools each time pruning unless the branches are huge.


Thank you for this advice. I have never seen the amount of Japanese beetles as I have this year.
I spent all afternoon cutting out the FB areas in my trees. I did what you suggested as well. I used three different cutting tools and three cups with disinfectant and I used one, left it soaking in disinfectant, and used one more tool to cut the next tree.
I have one tree that is weeping on the trunk. I was not like that three days ago. I need to take that one out of the ground tomorrow. I ran out of time today.
That was my main question, does the Japanese beetle carry the infection with them? You answered that and that makes sense. They were everywhere this year. I went out of town for a week. No problem doing that before. I come back and the Japanese beetle trap bags are completely full. I mean to the brim of the bag. They ran out of the traps and all the supplies for the traps at all the hardware stores and even at the big box stores as well.
Now something is eating holes in the plastic trap bags and the bugs are escaping or if dead there is a big pile of them under the torn bag. What in the world would eat those Japanese beetles? Even the birds will not eat them so they must be pretty nasty tasting.
The FB damage is all in the very young tips and leaves. It fits perfectly into the time frame of the damage to be the worst. All mt trees are between the 3-8 year span. My next door neighbor has older trees and his are not affected by the FB I have in mine.
Thank you again for your answer to my questions.


I found that JB traps attract JBs from a great distance and I was better off without any traps. A lot written about this on internet. If I were in your shoes I’d take down all the traps right away. Hope this helps.


My wife says the same thing about taking them away since she also thinks the scent attracts them for miles to come feast on my trees. I will take your advice and put the traps away. I will see what happens after that. It is very irritating to say the least.
I had them up because they were eating my peach tree and a couple of apple trees leaves up. The leaves looked like you shot them with a shotgun with bird shot. Once I resprayed my trees I put the traps up. The JBs left the peach trees and apple trees alone. I have marked those apple trees that were so delicious to the JBs in my journal. I will observe them next year as well. I think the leaves of certain varieties much secrete some juices or scent that attracts the JB to them.


Do you find that you need to spray more times with insecticide when the JB infestation is occurring? I would think you would need to not miss a spray to keep them from eating the leaves.


This looks like FB to me. What do some of you others think?

It was weeping two days ago and about four days ago I did not notice any of this on that tree. This is the only place on the tree that has this on it. It is only into the third greening this year.

My next few questions is about the viability of the ground the tree is planted in. Should I drench the ground with something to try and kill the FB in the soil since it has been weeping. Perhaps some of the bacteria has gotten into the soil itself.
Either way, with or without putting chemicals into the soil to try and kill the bacteria, when can I plant another tree in that same hole?

I know , lots of questions but I have never encountered FB before. This year it is horrible in my orchard.


If I were going to replant an apple or pear I would plant one with a high degree of FB resistance. Another option would be to plant a plum, peach, or cherry in its place.


Is it sending up root sprouts in the bottom of the photo? If it is on geneva rootstock I’d consider chopping well below the graft union and letting it grow from the root then graft next spring. I had a similar situation in the spring and am now getting good growth from the root. I guess FB could still be lurking down there but my plan is to grow the rootstock into a leader with shorts scaffolds that I can graft to. I’m tired of losing trees when fb gets in the leader.

If you decide to dig it up now and replant next spring I would not be concerned about the soil being contaminated with fb. Just make sure you get any big roots that are oozing. I did a similar thing last spring but replanted the same day. I just filled in the old hole and dug a new one a couple feet away and have had no trouble.


I will look at the tree again, I am not sure if those are root sprouts or just lower branches of the variety I had not cut off. I believe it is a M111 rootstock. I was on vacation for a week and things can get out of control pretty fast in the summer.


I don’t spray for anything other than dormant oil sometimes late winter. My trap experience was years ago trying to protect roses. JBs leave my fruit trees alone except some years they go after my Asian persimmons. I endure a bad JB year every few years and then most years not a major problem.

What you want to do is one night put your JB traps on your neighbor’s property.


He usually puts one or two out but since he has been gone so much he has not. I have one right next to his property line next to his JB infested grape vines.
Something keeps eating a hole(s) in the bottoms of those plastic bags on the traps. I have no idea what would eat THOSE nasty things.


Once I substituted a garbage bag for the bag that came with the trap, and it filled up rapidly. The stench was appalling from quite a distance. I can’t imagine what would get into it.

These days, I don’t use the traps and get fewer pests