Apple trees with fire blight

Asked June 23, 2015, 6:22 PM EDT

Our 25-year-old apple trees first showed signs of fire blight two summers ago. Last February we pruned them back severely. They are suffering again this summer. Although there is some new growth, there are also many brown and withered leaves clinging to the branches. The Golden Delicious are more damaged than the Red Delicious. Is what we see fire blight?

Jefferson County Colorado

1 Response

The problem with your trees sounds like it is fire blight. This is a widespread problem this year due to the moist weather in May and early June. Moisture plays a huge role in the spread of the disease.

Unfortunately the trees may also be suffering from the effects of the November polar vortex and the Mother's Day freeze. Symptoms of these events include dead twigs, branches and leaves.

In your second picture, the tree on the far right looks to be in tough shape and I recommend you remove it. The tree in the middle doesn't look very healthy either, although there appears to be more leaves. You may want to remove that one as well.

Follow this link on Fire Blight to a Colorado State Extension fact sheet, which provides management strategies. Unfortunately, pruning is the only option at this point in the season. If you have to do a lot of pruning on the middle tree in picture two, I think instead you should probably remove it. The last 6 to 8 months have been very hard on woody plants in our area, unfortunately.