Food Adventures with Connie

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Pruning Fire Blight Out of Backyard Fruit Trees

Fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) is a bacterial disease affecting pome fruits like apple, crabapple, pear, and quince.  It usually enters the tree through flowers during bloom, but can also enter with injury such as from hail or pruning and affect any part of the tree.

shoots of apple with brown "scorched" leaves from fire blight infection

Figure 1. Fire blight on apple.

hooked tip of a fire blight infected apple twig demonstrating the characteristic shepherd's crook shape

Figure 2. Shepherd’s crook.

The main disease symptom is the scorched appearance of affected twigs (Figure 1).  Twigs wilt from the tip downward and form a hook like a shepherd’s crook (Figure 2).  Leaves on the twigs turn brown or black but don’t drop from the tree.  If left unchecked, symptoms will progress down branches, where cankers will form.  Bacteria can overwinter in these cankers, and be transferred to flowers by insects the following spring, spreading the disease.


What to Do Now

While most fruit tree pruning is done during the late winter or early spring, when trees are dormant, you don’t want to wait to remove fire blight or it can continue to move into older wood, and eventually can even kill young trees.

During the growing season, when the weather is dry, prune back about 12 inches below visible symptoms.  Remove the prunings from the yard/orchard and burn them.  Between each pruning cut, clean your pruners by dipping them in a 70% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol solution for 30 seconds to avoid spreading the bacterium.


For more information:

Fire Blight of Apple, Pear and Woody Ornamentals

Backyard Farmer segment on Fire Blight


Want to produce more of your own food, but not sure where to start? Check out this post from They’re Not Our Goats.

I’ve always been mildly obsessed with the idea of doing everything from scratch. Perhaps it was all those hours playing Oregon Trail as a middle schooler. (Anyone from my generation remember that?) Perhaps it was our games of make-believe in which we had to survive for long periods of time with little provision. Perhaps it was my…

via My Backyard Grocery Store — They’re Not Our Goats

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