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Fireblight warning from Somerset Cider Vinegar



Somerset apple growers (both domestic and commercial) were warned today to check young trees for signs of Fireblight by Neil Champken owner of Somerset Cider Vinegar.

Fireblight kills branches and leaders – some already carrying fruit – on young trees and leaves them looking diseased and brown. The damage is reminiscent of severe burning hence the diseases name. The recent unseasonably hot weather followed by thunderstorms and heavy rain (high humidity) have created ideal conditions for Fireblight to spread.

“I have heard of reports from some private gardeners that young shoots on apple trees have gone brown and curled over which is a tell-tail of Fireblight. Apple growers should also be looking for a brown, bacterial ooze on shoots and branches,” said Mr Champken.

Fireblight is a native disease of North America and was inadvertently brought to the UK in the 1950’s. It is particularly dangerous for apple and pear growers.

“Insects and wind can spread the blight from plant to plant. The effects on newly planted orchards can be absolutely devastating. Any damage should be cut out with disinfected tools at least one foot below the infected area,” said Mr Champken.

“This sort of remedial treatment will leave young orchards looking a mess and severely affect yields for a few years to come but it has to be better than loosing the whole lot.”

“Hawthorn is also affected and is a major factor in spreading Fireblight. Growers should check any Hawthorn in their area especially in their own hedgerows!” he said.



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