By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Pear leaf blight and fruit spot is a nasty fungal disease that spreads quickly and can defoliate trees in a matter of weeks. Let’s learn how to treat pear fruit spot.
Pear leaf blight and fruit spot is caused by Fabraea maculata, a fungus that infects all parts of the tree. The bacteria are carried to other trees by insects, wind, splashing water and rain.
Symptoms of pear leaf blight and fruit spot are fairly easy to discern. Fruit spots appear as small, purplish spots, generally on the younger, lower leaves. As the lesions mature, they become purplish black or brown with a small pimple in the center. A yellow halo may develop around the lesions.
When the foliage is wet, a gooey, shiny mass of spores oozes from the pimple. Eventually, severely infected foliage turns yellow and leaves drop from the tree. Purple to black lesions, with spores, also appear on twigs. Lesions on pears are slightly sunken and black.
Treating pear fruit spot requires a combination of chemical and cultural practices.
Apply fungicides as soon as leaves are fully developed, then repeat three more times at two-week intervals. Spray the tree thoroughly until the fungicide drips from the leaves.
Water pear trees carefully and keep the foliage as dry as possible. Use a drip system or allow a hose to drop slowly at the base of the tree. Avoid overhead irrigation.
Ensure adequate spacing between trees to increase air circulation, and to allow sunlight to penetrate the foliage.
Rake and burn fallen plant debris in fall. Pathogens overwinter on older leaves. Prune infected growth to healthy wood as soon as it appears. Remove dead branches and twigs, as well as damaged fruit. Disinfect tools with a solution of bleach and water.
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Read more about Pear Trees
Although the pear tree is an adaptable grower, some conditions are simply too hot or too cold for the pear tree. Warm winters can damage and, over time, kill a pear tree by preventing it from entering its dormant phase and leaving it weakened and open to attack from environmental and microbiological factors. Several factors in the environment are capable of killing a pear tree. Use lime to lower the pH of the soil, if necessary. Planting resistant varieties, such as Moonglow, and using fungicidal sprays can prevent infection.
Coddling moths and borers damage the pear's bark and fruit, but the pear psylla, a small cicada-like insect causes a black sooty substance on the leaves and eventually causes the leaves to die and drop off. You'll see the bugs on the trunks of pear trees during the winter, curled up under depressions in the bark, to emerge and lay yellowish eggs in the spring. Then the insects appear near where the fruit forms, on new growth and on the top and undersides of the leaves, feeding on the tree's sap. You can control these bugs by applying a horticultural oil spray as directed after buds have formed.
Prune out all diseased limbs, branches and leaves when you first notice them to help stop the spread of any kind of pear disease or insect, and sterilize your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol to minimize the spread of the disease or pest.