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Old 09-30-2018, 05:05 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
12,995 posts, read 10,497,140 times
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I had four large apple trees that I just finished up cutting down and removing. They had been affected by the fire blight. For half this growing season they lost all of their leaves. So I took them down and plan on replanting a new small orchard next Spring with a blight resistant species of apple.

But I have a worry. I have four older pear trees that were affected and I pruned off the dead limbs when they appeared. They rebounded and look pretty good right now. But when you look up fire blight online many say that there is no cure. What I am afraid of, even if I find blight resistant apples, is that maybe my pears will infect my new apple trees. The pear trees are forty years old. Should I simply start fresh will all new trees?
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:10 PM
 
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fisheye - pears seem to have a lifespan of about 50 years (more or less). I think that starting fresh with blight-resistant pears as well as blight-resistant apples is a good idea. Good luck.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:58 PM
 
Location: S.W. British Columbia
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Your pear trees are really, really old, already 15 years past their average expiry date for pears. And already infected with the pathogen presently lying dormant in other cells of the pear trees, so I think they should be given up as a dead loss now even if they appear to be okay at this moment.

I'd cut the pears down too and do it now. Try to get all the roots out too if you can because the pathogen is most likely in the roots as well. Then do a preventative treatment of the soil, grass and other plants in the whole area where you plan to put new trees in before you bring the new trees home. Good luck and I hope you find a good selection of nice new apple and pear trees that are resistant.


.
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Old 10-01-2018, 04:29 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
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Thanks to both of you! That was what I was thinking. Actually my pears have not produced good crops for some time. I also miss the peach threes we had when we first bought the home I live in now.

I bought a used backhoe that is in the shop right now. I do expect to get it back in the next week and I will cut the pears down and then remove the stumps.

As far as removing all the roots: Some roots will obviously stay in the ground. Should I wait a year or two before I replant or simply dig large planting holes and surround the new plants with compost that has not been affected?

PS What kind of preventive treatment can you apply to the soil?
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Old 10-01-2018, 12:18 PM
 
Location: S.W. British Columbia
5,962 posts, read 5,757,511 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fisheye View Post

..... As far as removing all the roots: Some roots will obviously stay in the ground. Should I wait a year or two before I replant or simply dig large planting holes and surround the new plants with compost that has not been affected?

PS What kind of preventive treatment can you apply to the soil?

I have a tendency to err on the side of caution a little bit too much sometimes, and I recognize that I'm sometimes obsessive about being overly cautious and a bit paranoid and go into overkill mode. So please bear that in mind when I tell you what I would do and then you do what your own logic and abilities dictate.

My course of action after removing the blighted trees and roots now (autumn 2018) would be to wait a year and a half (spring of 2020) before planting any new trees. I'd use that year and half to monitor and do a thorough sanitary clean up of the ground and any other plants in the orchard planting area. As far as I know there is no real preventive treatment that can be applied to soil, other than elbow grease from manual labour. That would include mowing grass very short then scrupulously raking up every missed leaf and tiny twig or chip of wood and old mulch on both the ground surface and buried slightly below the surface of the ground that comes from the vicinity of the infected trees as well as surrounding area. If that means that some patches of grass get raked and pulled up too, leaving the ground looking bare or patchy in places - then so be it, it'll grow back later. While I'm cleaning the ground surface I'd watch for any kinds of suckers that might possibly spring up from missed roots or other existing vegetation and follow them down to the roots to get them out of the ground as best as possible.

Fire blight bacteria likes to sit dormant over winter on new growth and then attack in the spring, especially at blossom time. If there are other types of plants/shrubs growing in or near the vicinity I'd monitor them for ground level suckers and watersprouts and cut every one of them off as soon as I see them. That's because, even if those different plants were not affected, the fire blight bacteria can still be harbored on those new growths that were growing at the time the blighted trees were still standing and spewing bacteria all over the place. Where feasible I'd also prune back a lot of the past 24 months worth of new growth on nearby shrubs to open them up and make sure there is lots of airy space between branches.

In the summer of 2019 I'd do any fertilizer applications and soil amending (if necessary) in preparation for planting the new trees in spring of 2020. Go really light on nitrogen content because nitrogen is like steroidal candy for fire blight bacteria. In the spring when I dig the holes for the new trees, yes I'd include some clean fresh compost in the holes but first I'd mix and blend it up really well with the soil that was already dug out of the holes before back-filling the hole with it all when putting the root ball in place.


.
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Old 10-01-2018, 04:06 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
12,995 posts, read 10,497,140 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoisite View Post
I have a tendency to err on the side of caution a little bit too much sometimes, and I recognize that I'm sometimes obsessive about being overly cautious and a bit paranoid and go into overkill mode. So please bear that in mind when I tell you what I would do and then you do what your own logic and abilities dictate.

My course of action after removing the blighted trees and roots now (autumn 2018) would be to wait a year and a half (spring of 2020) before planting any new trees. I'd use that year and half to monitor and do a thorough sanitary clean up of the ground and any other plants in the orchard planting area. As far as I know there is no real preventive treatment that can be applied to soil, other than elbow grease from manual labour. That would include mowing grass very short then scrupulously raking up every missed leaf and tiny twig or chip of wood and old mulch on both the ground surface and buried slightly below the surface of the ground that comes from the vicinity of the infected trees as well as surrounding area. If that means that some patches of grass get raked and pulled up too, leaving the ground looking bare or patchy in places - then so be it, it'll grow back later. While I'm cleaning the ground surface I'd watch for any kinds of suckers that might possibly spring up from missed roots or other existing vegetation and follow them down to the roots to get them out of the ground as best as possible.

Fire blight bacteria likes to sit dormant over winter on new growth and then attack in the spring, especially at blossom time. If there are other types of plants/shrubs growing in or near the vicinity I'd monitor them for ground level suckers and watersprouts and cut every one of them off as soon as I see them. That's because, even if those different plants were not affected, the fire blight bacteria can still be harbored on those new growths that were growing at the time the blighted trees were still standing and spewing bacteria all over the place. Where feasible I'd also prune back a lot of the past 24 months worth of new growth on nearby shrubs to open them up and make sure there is lots of airy space between branches.

In the summer of 2019 I'd do any fertilizer applications and soil amending (if necessary) in preparation for planting the new trees in spring of 2020. Go really light on nitrogen content because nitrogen is like steroidal candy for fire blight bacteria. In the spring when I dig the holes for the new trees, yes I'd include some clean fresh compost in the holes but first I'd mix and blend it up really well with the soil that was already dug out of the holes before back-filling the hole with it all when putting the root ball in place.


.

Thank you for all of your suggestions!

There is probably no way I could totally escape every trace of the fire blight. The sawdust from cutting the trees down is all over the lawn. Their leaves and small twigs are all over the lawn. Even the branches from the trees are stacked up in a line almost ten feet high and 200 feet long (that is the same pile I use for all my brush). The firewood I will give away; but I will warn anybody taking it that they should not take it if they have fruit trees. I could probably plant at the far end of my property (about 200 feet away). But I also have neighbors that have trees affected.

I was thinking that, with my backhoe, I will dig large holes to plant and then plant them in compost soil that has composted for many years. Of course, between now and when I do plant, I have bagging attachments for two of my riding tractors and they do a great job vacuuming the ground. So I will go over the area where I took the trees out many times trying to get all the contaminated bits and pieces.

I did not think of the shrubbery contaminated. I do have two very large Japanese Andromeda that were crowding out two of my pear trees; so I will attempt to relocate those ten foot tall shrubs. Or I will take your suggestion of pruning them back.

I might try one other thing and call the nursery to discuss how resistant their plants are to fire blight.
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Old 10-01-2018, 05:47 PM
 
Location: S.W. British Columbia
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I thought these two links might be helpful to you for future reference and for choosing resistant trees, they are both very informative. The 2nd link has a list of the most resistant to least resistant varieties of apples and pears.

Fireblight

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/i...ts/fire-blight

Your Japanese Andromedas should be okay, to the best of my knowledge they aren't a species susceptible to harbouring nor being infected by fire blight bacterias. Go real easy on trimming or thinning them out as Andromedas do best on as little to no pruning as possible and if they need to be tidied up for neatness, balance and air circulation's sake be frugal about how much you take off.

And best of all they are good companion plants for apples and pears because they attract so many bees and other pollinators and will guide many more pollinators to your orchard than what you would get without those shrubs there. Rather than going to the trouble of relocating the Andromedas, perhaps you could just keep them within the orchard right where they are already so well established and position the new fruit trees a few feet further away from them so there will be no crowding as the fruit trees continue to grow.

.
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Old 10-01-2018, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
12,995 posts, read 10,497,140 times
Reputation: 9127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoisite View Post
I thought these two links might be helpful to you for future reference and for choosing resistant trees, they are both very informative. The 2nd link has a list of the most resistant to least resistant varieties of apples and pears.

Fireblight

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/i...ts/fire-blight

Your Japanese Andromedas should be okay, to the best of my knowledge they aren't a species susceptible to harbouring nor being infected by fire blight bacterias. Go real easy on trimming or thinning them out as Andromedas do best on as little to no pruning as possible and if they need to be tidied up for neatness, balance and air circulation's sake be frugal about how much you take off.

And best of all they are good companion plants for apples and pears because they attract so many bees and other pollinators and will guide many more pollinators to your orchard than what you would get without those shrubs there. Rather than going to the trouble of relocating the Andromedas, perhaps you could just keep them within the orchard right where they are already so well established and position the new fruit trees a few feet further away from them so there will be no crowding as the fruit trees continue to grow.

.

Thanks for the information on the Andromedas; they are about 10'X10' and might even be higher. It would be a backhoe project to move them and then they might not survive. I have actually made out pretty good pruning some of them. I had a few that got far too large around my house. But, I'll take your suggestion and leave them alone. I'll move the new fruit trees farther away.

Thanks again for the links and I will definitely only buy the most resistant apples, pears or peaches. I will also call the nursery first.

I did find one link to a virus they were creating in the laboratory to fight the fire blight: https://invisiverse.wonderhowto.com/...light-0178553/. That article was dated July of last year and it would be interesting if the research has progressed to the field test.
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Old 10-05-2018, 07:10 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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I used to do a lot of grafting, and often grafted pears onto apple trees or the other way around. In fact now I have an apple with pear grafted on it as a pollinator for my other pear. You might consider this, grafting pears onto a resistant apple stock. Most larger nurseries will clip of grafting scions for you when they have the bare root trees in late winter.



https://articles.extension.org/pages...susceptibility
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Old 10-05-2018, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
12,995 posts, read 10,497,140 times
Reputation: 9127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
I used to do a lot of grafting, and often grafted pears onto apple trees or the other way around. In fact now I have an apple with pear grafted on it as a pollinator for my other pear. You might consider this, grafting pears onto a resistant apple stock. Most larger nurseries will clip of grafting scions for you when they have the bare root trees in late winter.



https://articles.extension.org/pages...susceptibility


Thank you for the advice!

It might take until Spring before I get it all figured out. I look at the catalogs and look at the information and get confused. I thought that I might try planting 'Liberty' apples but they want one or two different varieties to be planted for the most productive cross pollination. Of course the ones they recommend are not fire blight resistant!

Anyway; I have been writing the nurseries for advice. The 'Cummings Nursery' got back to me with this email:

"I recommend going with apple trees that are on Geneva series rootstocks for two reasons:
fireblight resistance
replant disease tolerance
this is an issue when planting new, young trees into old orchard ground like you're describing.
I've pasted a link to our disease resistant apple availability, and have refined the list to varieties that are fireblight resistant. Any tree that you see on there that has a rootstock that begins with G. is what you want to go with (except for G.222; it does not have replant disease tolerance)

https://shop.cumminsnursery.com/shop...ant/fireblight

I'm happy to answer any questions that you may have, or make specific varietal recommendations if you like."

Of course their list does not even mention Liberty apples!

To complicate the problem with ordering is that we have to order now for the Spring. Many of these nurseries have a fixed number of trees and, if we do not order now, they might not be available in the Spring.

How do you feel about peaches? Do you have any recommendations for the conditions I describe? I did remove my pear trees and I am waiting for my backhoe to remove the stumps.
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