fireblight

Q: What is wrong with my loquat? 

Q: What is wrong with my loquat?  Some of the branches are dying from the tips and the fruit is dried up and dead.

A: Your loquat has a disease called fire blight, which is caused by bacterium (Erwinia amylovora), it can spread rapidly, killing individual apple and pear trees when conditions are right for disease development and susceptible root stocks are used. The first symptoms of fire blight occur in early spring, when temperatures are above 60 °F and the weather is rainy or humid. Infected flowers turn black and die. The disease moves down the branch, resulting in death of young twigs, which blacken and curl over, giving the appearance of a “shepherd’s crook.”  Leaves on affected branches wilt, blacken and remain attached to the plant, giving it a fire-scorched appearance. Slightly sunken areas, called cankers, appear on branches and the main stem. Many parts of the plant can be affected including blossoms, stems, leaves and fruit. During wet weather you may notice a milky-like, sticky liquid oozing from infected plant parts. Insects and rain can spread the disease. Some ornamental pear trees, such as ‘Bradford,’ are considered resistant to the disease but can become infected when conditions are favorable for disease development. Certain plants in the rose family (Rosaceae), including many ornamental plants, can be affected by fire blight. Some of these include crabapple, pyracantha, hawthorn, photinia, quince, mountain ash, loquat and spirea. Reduce the spread of fire blight by removing and destroying all infected plant parts. Pruning cuts should be made 12 to18 inches below any sign of infected tissue. Disinfect all pruning tools between cuts using a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water. Succulent new growth is easily infected, if injured. Avoid excess nitrogen fertilization which results in excess succulent growth.