How to Treat Fire Blight in Apple Trees

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Fire blight is a common bacterial disease found in many trees. It can destroy branches and even entire shrubs or trees. It has been seen in quince, pears and apple trees as well as service berries, hawthorns and other popular garden shrubs and trees. Early diagnosis and treatment of your infected tree will give you a better chance of saving it.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Copper fungicide

Identify Fire Blight

  • Watch for a pale, watery liquid that oozes from the bark. The liquid darkens when it is exposed to air and leaves dark streaks on your apple tree's bark.

  • Keep an eye on the tree's flowers, shoots and young fruit. They will shrivel and turn brown or black if your apple tree is infected by fire blight.

  • Check the branches for blight. Fire blight makes the end of the branches bend over, forming a candy cane shape. As the disease moves further into the main branches, the bark may crack along the edge of the infected area.

Treat Fire Blight

  • Choose blight-resistant trees. With the increase in frequency of fire blight, many nurseries are offering apple trees that are able to withstand an infection which makes them much easier to treat.

  • Cut off all diseased wood. Prune the apple tree at least 8 inches from the visible symptoms of blight. Burn the wood and disinfect your pruning shears before using them again.

  • Apply a copper fungicide solution once a week to treat fire blight while your apple tree is blooming. Spray it directly on the tree's flowers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fire blight is most common when you have a warm, wet spring.
  • Fire blight is one of the most difficult tree diseases to treat. You will need to pay constant attention to your apple tree if it becomes infected.

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