Pruning out fire blight on apple

Posted by gardensoul on January - 28 - 2013

Fire blight shepard's crookFire blight canker

This winter I am pruning out fire blight on my apple tree. There were 3 apples when we purchased our property.  From the look and taste, I’m guessing the fire blight affected one is a Macintosh apple.  The other 2 apple trees are free of fire blight, supporting the top management method: plant fire blight resistant varieties of apple, crabapple, quince and pear. These photos show classic symptoms; dead branches, “shephard’s crook” twigs, discolored bark and cankers (dark discolored areas that are slightly sunken, with a narrow callus ridge along the outer edge).

When a tree is infested, the only recourse is pruning out the affected twigs and branches, cutting 8-12 inches beyond a canker. Pruning in mid-winter is preferred to summer as spread of the bacteria is lessened.  Summer pruning requires sterilizing pruning equipment after every cut and is warranted on young vigorous trees or established trees with minimal infection. Colorado State Extension has a great fact sheet on Fire Blight.


One Response so far.

  1. […] February is a great time to prune many deciduous trees.  With leaves gone, the branch structure of trees is much easier to see.  You can safely remove diseased branches, such as fire blight on apple trees. […]