Pear products are particularly prone to a contagious disease called fire blight. Other fruits such as quinces, raspberry, apples and loquats can also become susceptible. Fireblight does not only affect the fruit of the trees but is able to destroy the whole tree if not treated. Farmers can be faced with the possibility of losing a whole fruit growing season when infected by fireblight.
As soon as trees are having a growth spurt, symptoms of fireblight can become evident. The first signs of fireblight become evident at the site of a watery ooze, which in fact is the fireblight bacteria. These will start to appear on branches and twigs. When exposed to air, the ooze starts to darken, which becomes very evident on the trees affected area. Depending on the severity of the infected area, the amount of fruit that is lost will be determined.
When the fruit trees blossom, that is when the fireblight infects their flowers, which are most susceptible. Once the flowers have been infected, they will start to wilt and turn black or brown depending on the type of fruit tree. The succulent shoots of the trees can then also be susceptible to fireblight. Once the tree has been infected by the fireblight idisease, it will never be free from it.
Birds, bees and insects transmit the fireblight bacterium from one infected tree to another. Should a tree be damaged, it is very easily susceptible to fireblight. The wind and hailstorms is able to transmit fireblight to an entire orchard within a short period of time.
Europe have identified fireblight as a contagious disease, affecting their Hawthorn which is planted along main roads and motorways. Australia have vetoed imports from New Zealand due to fireblight. Northern Japan have found that pear trees have been affected by fireblight.