Fire Blight is a bacterial infection caused by Erwinia Amylovora, a pathogen that is rapidly spreading through the DFW area. The warm winter and humid spring has led to an increase of the bacteria in our area and is transferring itself through wind, water droplets (rain and irrigation), and insects. At temperatures of 70-80 degrees the bacteria doubles every twenty minutes and can cause destruction to a tree in a single season.
Fire Blight not only affects Bradford Pears but also destroys fruit trees, Crab Apples, Indian Hawthorns, Roses, and various types of Photinia.
How to identify Fire Blight
On Bradford Pears and other trees the stems and leaves turn black, die, and stay attached to the branches. It looks like a lot of dead black leaves starting on the ends of the branches and moving inward. The leaves and young twigs curl.
When a Red tipped Photinia has Fire Blight the leaves turn a black or brown, die, and stay on the plant. It usually starts in one area and moves outward.
Control for Fire Blight
For all plants mechanical removal is beneficial. Removing all dead leaves from the plant as well as any dead material that falls will reduce the spread of Fire Bight.
For trees with less than 30% of the canopy infected it is possible to chemically manage the bacteria. Our Certified Arborists use a foliar and root applied systemic fungicide to kill the bacteria. Our goal is to suppress the bacteria through the year until bud break next spring when the treatment can be curative. We expect to repeat treatment three times during the year: once during the spring, once during the fall, and again next spring. If trees are controlled chemically, pruning out the infected sections will not be required because the spores will have already been managed. Treatments may need to be repeated if the tree becomes reinfected.