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City battling outbreak of Fireblight disease in Grande Prairie

Residents are being asked to keep an eye on their apple, pear, hawthorn and mountain ash trees, after an outbreak of Fireblight disease has been found within Grande Prairie’s urban forest area.

Fireblight can cause sudden flagging and death of new growth, including burnt, or scorched looking leaves and branches. It also causes sunken cankers to spread down shoots and branches in front of the dying leaves.

Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Any Needham says the outbreak of the disease isn’t a new phenomenon for the area but says it needs to be a perfect storm of conditions.

“What it’s waiting for is warm, wet weather to trigger an outbreak. It only really happens, and we know to watch for it when we have these excessively rainy May and June months.”

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Needham suggests a couple of tips which can help stop the spread of the disease in trees on their property:

• Prune out all infected branches 12-18 inches below the infection.
• Disinfect the pruning tool in between each cut with gas line antifreeze or a 10% bleach solution to avoid
spreading the disease further throughout the tree.

She adds that the level of work needed on each tree will vary greatly.

“Different trees and variety of trees have different susceptibility to the disease. Some apple trees in town won’t get it at all, and some will be riddled with the disease to the point of not being able to save it.”

Needham adds Fireblight can kill trees within a single season if left untreated.

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