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Texas Trees are on Fire!!

Updated on June 18, 2013

Always serious, after heavy hail, often disastrous.

Blight shown on rose tree leaf
Blight shown on rose tree leaf
Canker-like attack of the bacteria
Canker-like attack of the bacteria
Acres of young apple trees destroyed in this Fire Blight attack after a major hail storm
Acres of young apple trees destroyed in this Fire Blight attack after a major hail storm
Shepherd's Crook: classic effect on twigs and leaves
Shepherd's Crook: classic effect on twigs and leaves

Plants and Man: Under Constant Attack

Being a plant is not an easy life. They are subject to about one hundred different attacks from predators, fungi, and diseases like Fire Blight.

A came across this problem from a complaint from a friend in Ben Wheeler, Texas, who said their trees are severely affected this year. I didn’t have chance to chat, but I presume she meant fruit trees, as many of these, from berry bushes, to long established orchard giants, are the victims of this bacterial infection.

It’s easy to identify “Erwinia Amylovora,“ or Fire Blight. As its name suggests, the trees seem as if they have been in a forest fire with blackened, splitting and curling shoots, flowers, buds and leaves, the latter often curling into the classic “Shepherd’s Crook” death throes.

For once, we (Americans) have only ourselves to blame as this blight began here as far as we can determine, and has spread to many countries throughout the globe…in return for imports, like the Asian Beetle perhaps!

Texas fruit farmers - as well as those in many other states fear heavy hail storms. This is because the bacteria finds any wound on trees, such as that caused by excessive pruning, wind and hail damage, as an easy portal. In fact, many commercial farmers don’t wait after hail storms, which can have trees infected in hours!! but begin defensive action as soon as they can get outdoors again, spraying and cutting out any infected and damaged areas.

The common treatment is to remove any diseased material, cutting abut 6 inches below the margin of the blighted wood. This should be removed from the area immediately and burned - give the “blight-ers a taste of real Texas hospitality towards malignant invaders, from General Santa Ana, to nasty bacteria!

The bared wood - and the implements after each operation - is commonly doused with household bleach at about 1 part bleach to 9 water.

After remedial paring and scraping, all the trees are commonly sprayed with liquids containing antibiotics such as Streptomycin and Terramycin. Treatment often used in human illness. Like human disease, too, the Fire Blight bacteria are seen in several areas where concentrated treatment has been needed - such as parts of California and Washington - to be becoming resistant to these antibiotics.

Unfortunately, the blight is also spread by everyday pollinators such as bees and other arthropods

Fire Blight is usually contained to the family Rosaceae. Apart from a host of fruit and berry trees, this included hip-bearing plants, such as rose bushes.

.The only blessing is it gives steady work to folks like my gal in Texas…!



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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I like the way you pointed out this one started here and we've shared it in other countries instead of the other way around. Aside from that it isn't pretty. Thank goodness its if we could contain a few other things!

      Voted up and interesting.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

      more than well? i hope you won the lottery.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Bob. a brilliant hub so well presented. Your photographs are so graphic, as they say a photo tells a thousand words.


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Misty: More than well, actually, will write and tell you all about it


    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Haven't seen any of that around here although Ben Wheeler isn't that far away, about 2 hours drive or a little more. Maybe it's a local thing?

      Interesting hub, Bobby. Hope all is well with you . . .