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Yikes! Fire Blight Returns  RSS feed

 
Posts: 17
Location: USDA Zone 8a, Middle Georgia
fiber arts food preservation homestead
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Hey y"all!  I live in Middle Georgia - Zone 8a - and have enjoyed Bartlett Pears from my lone pear tree for several years.  Three years ago fire blight, the bacterial scourge of many fruit trees, attacked.  I fought it by pruning away most of the infected limbs and spraying with a solution of chlorine bleach water.   Of course many limbs I could not treat because the 16 year old tree is quite tall.  Nevertheless, the tree regained its health.  Last year was there were very few blooms.  The few pears we did have were stolen by squirrels.  This spring I was more hopeful because of the over-abundance of blooms.  Yet the fire blight has returned.  About 10% of the pear buds and leaves have turned black already.  And its spreading.  Rapidly.  Any suggestions for fighting the blight other than pruning and the chlorine method? 
Or should I give up my dreams of pear preserves again this year???
 
pollinator
Posts: 1446
Location: northern California
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On the long term I would plant another pear of a blight-resistant variety.  There are several available.  And then there are old pear trees all over the South that rarely get much blight, but the pears are what they call "gritty" or "sandy".  This is the main advantage of varieties like Bartlett because they will ripen on the tree creamy and grit free.  But there is a solution.....pick the gritty pears when they are full size but still quite hard.  This may be a month or more before they ripen and start to fall on their own.  You know when it's the right time because gently lifting up the pear it will snap off clean at a break point on the stem.  Take these hard pears and chill them....refrigerator temperature is good, for several weeks.  When you want to eat some, pull them out a week or so ahead and set them on the counter and they will ripen up soft and creamy, just like a Bartlett!!  I don't know if this will work with every gritty pear you find but I tried several when I lived in GA and it worked well with them!  And the ones left in the fridge will store there for months...you can enjoy fresh pears all winter that way!
 
Denise Massey
Posts: 17
Location: USDA Zone 8a, Middle Georgia
fiber arts food preservation homestead
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Oh Alder!  You almost made my 65 year old husband cry at the thought of planting another pear tree and waiting years until it matures to produce enough pears for us and the neighborhood squirrels.  But I like this practical advice!  My stepfather planted a pear tree back in the 1950s in his home garden. Today the property sits abandoned but that pear tree still bears fruit.  Definitely will be doing some research for our next blight-resistant pear tree. Thanks for the reminder about old pear trees.
 
Denise Massey
Posts: 17
Location: USDA Zone 8a, Middle Georgia
fiber arts food preservation homestead
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Trying a compromise with hubby.  Rather than planting a new pear tree, I'm thinking about grafting scions from a blight-resistant variety onto the Bartlett.  Will the resulting new pears from the scions be more viable?  Can the grafts aid the 16 year old tree to better withstand reoccurring fire blight? 

Has anyone tried this? Practical advice appreciated. 
 
garden master
Posts: 4474
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
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You could brew up a compost tea and spray the whole tree with it, that usually helps get rid of fire blight, for severe cases you would need to apply the tea once a week for about a month, maybe two months.
The way it works; you are spraying microbes on the tree and they will form a protective coating on the leaves, stems and branches.
The bacteria from the tea will attack and eat the blight bacteria.

Redhawk
 
Denise Massey
Posts: 17
Location: USDA Zone 8a, Middle Georgia
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Thanks Bryant!  I'll try the compost tea spray.  I appreciate you explaining why it works.  Looks like our pear tree has a fighting chance afterall!
 
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Tell your husband to buck up and plant another tree!

I had an uncle that was planting fruit trees at 90.  He was optimistic if nothing else!
 
Posts: 41
Location: Deerbrook, Wi
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dog forest garden hugelkultur
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Don't know how you get the screen bands to the top branches of a 16' tree, but this technique saved two out of three blighted pears, althought they have yet to set a lot of fruit.
https://permies.com/t/26348/solid-copper-pear-blight-treatment
We also replanted them on the other side of the house to get them away from the garden, where tomato blight is endemic.
Lots of clouds and moisture around here.
It seems to have worked best on our butternut (white walnut) re-introduction, where the tree that became blighted really recovered nicely, and it's counterpart never got it.
 
Denise Massey
Posts: 17
Location: USDA Zone 8a, Middle Georgia
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Oh Jerry!  Gotta love an optimistic 90 year old!  Your uncle was leaving a legacy.  Maybe that will inspire my husband.  Thanks for the pep talk!
 
Denise Massey
Posts: 17
Location: USDA Zone 8a, Middle Georgia
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Thanks William for the copper screen option.  My honey is quite the handy-man.  I think he will be willing to try it around the base. And maybe some of the larger branches we can reach.  Certainly can't hurt.

 
Posts: 89
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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Bryant Redhawk.  Is there a recipe for the bacteria compost tea?  I have Asian Fruits that often get fire blight and also apple trees with cedar rust. 

I want to learn how to graft more hardy scions onto these trees also.  On my list for sure.  Right now I have pawpaw scions to graft to see if I can get any fruit from the one type of pawpaw I have had for 15 years. 

Thanks
Dennis
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 4474
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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The recipe is more for the compost, which is where we get the bacterial starter, to get the most good bacteria you will want to have a compost that includes fruits as one of the components of the compost, this adds sugars that our wanted bacteria love to eat.
When we build a compost with preferred foods of our desired organisms, we grow more of those organisms, so anything you add to the compost heap can be selected to grow the organisms you desire to have in large numbers.
Items to consider, as well as the normal green and brown components, would be; fruits, brassicas and squashes then you could even consider using a watered down molasses as a top coating but that isn't a necessity until you start the tea brewing.

Redhawk
 
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