Bradford Pear Diseases

Bradford pear trees are popular landscaping trees because of their bountiful flowers and general resistance to disease. However, while Bradford pears are a hardy tree, they may end up living far fewer than their allotted 20 or 30 years if you do not keep an eye on them and take action, when necessary, to help them ward off problematic illnesses and attacks from the diseases that give them trouble. Knowing about Bradford pear diseases will help you keep your tree healthy and "happy" for decades.

Fire Blight

When your Bradford pear starts blooming, keep an eye out for fire blight. This infection is caused by a bacterium that overwinters in cankers of the tree, emerging--along with an amber-colored, oozing sap--to turn blossoms and new growth dark brown or black, eventually killing them. Infected twigs and branches often develop a "fish hook" at the ends where the blossoms used to be, and this can be a sign to look for, since it is easier to spot than a canker in many cases. To treat fire blight, prune infected branches and remove cankers during late winter when the bacterium cannot spread. You can also treat the tree with a streptomycin spray when it starts blooming and every week thereafter while new blooms are still opening. Dispose of all affected, pruned limbs and shoots to make sure that the debris does not spread the disease.

Root Rot Leaf Scorch

Leaf scorch is a symptom of a variety of problems, most often root rot. It can also be caused by drought, heat and excessive wind. Leaf scorch is typified by leaves wilting and turning brown, black and even brittle. The problem starts around the edges of the leaves but can extend inward and eventually cause premature leaf fall. If the leaf scorch is caused by root rot, you can find out because even when you give your tree plenty of water--early in the morning and only when the soil is dry to prevent fungal infections--it will not perk up, because its roots are no longer working. If your Bradford pear has root rot, the only thing that you can do is remove the tree so that other trees do not become infected.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch

Bacterial leaf scorch causes Bradford pear leaves to turn light brown from the outside in and eventually fall. However, bacterial leaf scorch causes the leaves to fall early. Left untreated, the bacteria will remain in the tree for the winter and spread during the next growing season. Use sterile pruning to remove all affected branches and leaves and dispose of them in garbage bags rather than dropping them on the ground. This should control the bacterial leaf scorch and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the tree and other trees.

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