Though pear trees offer juicy, edible fruit and showy blossoms to the home landscape, the tree becomes a lot less appealing with the onset of fire blight disease. A bacterial disease that targets pears as well as other fruit trees like crabapples and apples, fire blight is a devastating problem that leads to partial tree destruction and can result in plant death. By choosing less-susceptible varieties or by regularly examining existing trees, you can keep infections to a minimum for continued enjoyment of pears in your garden.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Pruning shears
- Gardening gloves
- Protective eyewear
- Rubbing alcohol
Provide consistent care to pear trees as healthy plants have a greater ability to avoid and overcome disease problems than neglected plants. Plant pear trees in areas that provide full sun exposure for best growth and fruit development.
Grow pear trees in any type of moist soil provided that it has excellent drainage as pears prefer sandy soil types but will grow successfully in heavier soil. Maintain a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 when possible, though a pH of 5.0 to 7.5 is acceptable. Contact your local county extension agent to ask about soil tests. Follow through with a test and make any suggested amendments to your soil to adjust pH levels and other concerns that may harm the development of your pear trees.
Verify a fire blight infection before moving forward with treatment. Examine your tree during spring. Search for a thin, light brown discharge from branches or areas of dying tissue on pear tree trunks as an initial symptom. Look for blossoms turning brown without falling from the tree and leaves and shoots that become black and curved at the end.
Prune and destroy diseased plant parts to decrease the severity of infection and to keep it from spreading to other plants. Cut behind diseased cankers at a minimum of 8 inches. Sanitise pruning shears between each cut with rubbing alcohol to avoid disease transmission to other parts of the plant and other plants.
Control fire blight on pear trees by applying the chemical fungicide Bordeaux mixture at a concentration of 0.5 per cent. Apply the fungicide as flowers open, suggests the University of California's Integrated Pest Management Program.
Tips and warnings
- Choose resistant pear trees over susceptible pear trees for a decreased chance of fire blight infection. Choose varieties like Garber, Lincoln, Dutchess and Bradford .
- Avoid irrigating pear trees while in bloom as this encourages the development of fire blight disease.
- Always wear gardening gloves and protective eyewear to prevent injury when handling sharp tools and chemicals.
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