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Posted on: June 21, 2018

Fire Blight on Ornamental Pear trees

The Ornamental Pear, also known as Callery Pear or Bradford Pear, ( Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’) is the street tree planted along Downing circle , Chardon Avenue circle and on East Park Street. Bradford Pear is a tree with many positive attributes and just as many hidden faults. This spring the trees were infected by the bacteria called Fire Blight, which entered the flower openings. The trees all show varying degrees of dead leaves, stems and flowers. They look as if they were burned. The new tip growth is currently green and healthy looking.

This tree is no longer planted on City property. There is no reliable cure for this bacterial disease. If you have one of these trees on your property you can prune the infected branches off, being sure to go back 12” behind the infected area. This is a difficult task to complete and will leave the tree misshapen and the bacteria can infect the tree the following spring if the conditions are right again. The conditions that spread the pathogen are rainy or humid weather with daytime temperatures around 80 F and night time temperatures remain above 55F in the springtime.

This tree cultivar was rated as low susceptibility to Fire Blight years ago. Pathogens are known to mutate or change their behavior and occasionally conditions are perfect for the spread of the bacteria hence the look of our Ornamental Pear Trees this year. There are about 100 trees on these three streets and many more on residents’ property. We will monitor the City trees next spring and hopefully the conditions do not cause another major outbreak and the trees will continue to put on healthy growth.

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