Arthur increase spread of fire blight in Valley orchards: fruit growers' association

Published on July 25, 2014

Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association president Robert Peill takes a look at a few of his young apple trees pushed over by Arthur’s powerful wind. – Kirk Starratt,

©Kirk Starratt

The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association is concerned about the effect that post-tropical storm Arthur has had on spread of fire blight in the Annapolis Valley’s apple orchards.

“Arthur was very much the perfect storm. Its high winds and rain have caused fire blight to be spread much more quickly and farther than in the past. We are just beginning to realize the impact it has made on our orchards,” says Dawn Sutherland, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association.

Fire blight is not new, she said. It has been an ongoing problem in orchards for many years but had been managed and contained effectively prior to Arthur. It is caused by bacteria and does not affect humans or animals. It can be found on apples trees, as well as pears and crab apples trees and hawthorns.

The signs of fire blight are easily recognizable, she said. Trees look as if they have been scorched by fire. If left unchecked, it can severely damage an orchard.

“We are unsure of the impact that this will have on this year’s crop but we are working aggressively with producers and professionals to mitigate the impact,” says Rob Peill, president of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association.

A workshop is scheduled for all apple growers on fire blight management July 28 at 7 p.m. at Rene Penner’s RJ Farm in Grafton, 4631 Route 221.