Fire Blight in Vermont Orchards

June 16, 2014

It is becoming apparent that 2014 is sizing up to be one of the more significant fire blight years in Vermont. Luckily, this bacterial disease isn’t as prevalent nor damaging as it is in warmer areas, but its occurrence is increasing in our area, and if your orchard is affected, you need to manage it.

First, I welcome any reports from the field that will help me get a handle on how widespread the situation is. At the UVM Hort Farm orchards, my four usual blocks are affected to varying degrees, and it’s pretty manageable (but then again, we’re only talking about three acres). I am seeing infections mostly on Cortland, Mutsu, and Gala, as well as the newer scab resistant cultivars Crimson Crisp (a real magnet for the disease), Topaz, Winecrisp, and Galarina. I did note a few McIntosh and Empire infections today, but those cultivars are not heavily affected.

As for management strategies, I am going to refer you to Dr. David Rosenberger’s article in the most recent Scaffolds (regular screen version here, mobile/phone formatted version here). For a long-term management strategy, please see Dr. Dan Cooley’s fact sheet, An Annual Fire Blight Management Program.