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Our fruiting quince tree has fireblight. We've been trying to control it by pruning, but it's not working. We're going to have to take out the tree. I can't buy quince fruit, so I want a quince tree. How long will we have to wait before we can plant another tree?

(My husband says never, that we lost another tree to fireblight in the past, and it never really goes away. On the other hand, our apple trees don't appear to suffer from it.)

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Fireblight is always present in the environment (except possibly Japan and Australia) and infects trees through honeybees and other insects. Birds, rain and wind can also transmit the bacterium to susceptible tissue. Local weather conditions that change from year to year affect the amount of fire blight. Warm rainy springs encourage fireblight.

Normal control measures include

  • pruning diseased tissue before it infects the roots (disinfect your pruners after every cut!)
  • spraying which is not feasible for homeowners as they usually cannot buy agricultural grade antibiotics or have the equipment to apply it
  • preventive pruning to keep the tree open with lots of sun coming through the crown
  • planting resistant varieties (none known for quince)
  • avoid heavy fertilizing with nitrogen that encourages soft fast growth
  • removing other sources of infection such as seedlings of apple and pear
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