Monday, May 14, 2012

Fireblight nailing Bradford Pears

A bacteria called fire blight seems to be nailing Bradford Pears and Loquats this spring.  Fire blight attacks plants in the Rosaceae family which include apples, plum, cherries, hawthorn, photinia, pyracantha, roses, spirea, pear and many others.  Always plant resistant varieties to ensure you do not get this disease. Remember resistant does not mean immune.

On the Bradford Pear the foliage usually does not fall off the branch and the branch will have a distinct shepherd’s hook curve at the tip. The dead foliage hanging on can sometimes be confused with twig borer damage.

Fire blight often leaves the branches looking burnt or a deep rust color.  This is how the disease got its name.  The bacteria over winters in cankers, then in the springtime the bacteria oozes out of the cankers and attracts insects and bees that help spread the bacteria.  Rain, wind and pruning tools also move the disease from one plant to another or spread the disease on the same plant.  Fire blight usually goes into natural openings on new wood and then moves to older wood, killing the branch. 

To control fire blight, cut out infected limbs 8-10 inches below the signs of damage.  When making cuts on an infected tree, be sure to disinfect your pruning tools with a 10% bleach solution (1 oz. bleach, 9 oz. water).  Since fire blight enters new succulent growth, avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization.  Avoid overhead irrigation or splashing water as this spreads the bacteria.  Consider using a general insecticide in the spring to discourage insects from spreading the disease. 

Since fire blight is a bacteria, an antibiotic such as Agrimycin could be used to reduce infection.  Kocide, Junction and Mancozeb will also help in the control of fire blight.  All these products should be used in the early spring when the plant is blooming and applied according to label rates and intervals of applications. 

A lot of you have new summer flowering annuals and daffodil foliage in your yard.  Both of these will respond favorably to Mighty Plant, Messenger, SeaHume and SUPERthrive.  You will notice a benefit to your summer flowering plants in about two weeks.  By spraying your daffodil foliage, you will notice the benefit next spring when you have bigger blooms on your daffodils.

Fleas have been bad throughout the winter. Protect your pet, your house, and your yard.