The last three orchards I visited all had fire blight! This is bad news! Attached are several pictures of what this bacterial disease looks like now. You may see dead flower clusters, diseased new shoots with a typical shepherd’s crook tip, flower/fruit cluster leaves drying out with blackened leaf veins.
I’ve heard several states are experiencing a lot more fire blight than usual. We’ve never seen very much in Rhode Island before, until now. In the last few days I’ve seen it on all age apple trees and lots of different apple varieties.
If you do have fire blight, what should you do?
1. Let me know by email or phone. I will try to make it to your orchard very soon.
2. When it is dry, cut out blighted branches 12 inches back (closer to the trunk) from damage. You will want to continue looking for fire blight ‘strikes’ throughout the season, or at least until growth stops. Do not prune when it’s wet – you can spread the disease more. Some trees are going to look pretty ugly when you get finished pruning.
3. Do not apply Strep now, but you will want to apply Strep if your orchard gets hit with hail. Otherwise, save Strep for next year to use during bloom.
And don’t forget about our Twilight Meeting on June 19th at 5:30 at Jaswell’s Farm, 50 Swan Road, Smithfield.