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MsAM
MsAM, Arboriculture-expert
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 11137
Experience:  Biology degree, 40 years experience tree-growing.
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We have 9 Bradford pear trees lining our driveway. They are

Customer Question

We have 9 Bradford pear trees lining our driveway. They are at least 12 years old. They bloomed flowers well this spring, but now that summer is here they are leaf bare and drooping. There is also considerable discolorment in the bark (light). How can I bring these trees back to life. I mulched and put a general fertilizer on them this Spring. I have pictures but do not see an option to attach.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Arboriculture
Expert:  MsAM replied 6 months ago.
Hello,I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. My name is ***** ***** I’m a biologist with a special interest in Arboriculture. I'm sorry to hear of this incident. Your pictures would be very helpful. You should be able to upload a photo by clicking on the little paper clip icon in the tool bar at the top of the field where you type.Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as www.photobucket.com. Then come back here and paste the link to your picture in a reply. A third option is to email them to***@******.*** They will then be forwarded to me, probably by tomorrow. Thank you.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

I'm sorry it has been a busy weekend. Here are a couple photos. If you need more or a closeup, just let me know.

Expert:  MsAM replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for the pictures. I must be honest with you- this doesn't look good. I have a suspicion about what this is, but a closeup of an infected twig or small branch will help.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

This is the best I could do

Expert:  MsAM replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for doing your best. when you look at the leaves and tiny twigs on the ends of the branches, do they look blackened and withered?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

I tried to send 4 more images but I don't know if you got them all. Leaf 1 image is what appears to me to be normal. Leaf 2 shows a small twig with fruit that appears to be dwarfed and diseased. Leaf 3 shows a twig with brown rot ( this is not normal on all of the trees. and Leaf 4 show a small twig with stunted yellowish leaves. This is pretty baffling because these trees continue to bloom every year, but never look really healthy. The soil here is just standard Georgia clay but it is pretty rocky. I have read where these trees can only live some 20 or so years however I have seen them with a lot bigger trunks than ours. To my knowledge they have never been pruned.

If you just want to speculate or take an educated guess, that would be fine with me. I think my next step would be to start replacing them with a hardier tree one by one. It was not my choice in the first place but I am trying to make the best of an existing situation. If there are any chemicals you could recommend that would be helpful even if it meant it might be terminal to the tree if not successful.

Expert:  MsAM replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for the additional pictures. You're right that these trees have a short lifespan. However, trunk size tells us nothing about the age of a tree. A tree that experiences favorable growth conditions will put on more growth earlier in life and will have a bigger trunk. Factors affecting size include amount of rainfall or watering, fertilizing, available sunlight, and temperatures. The only time we can tell a tree's age is when we cut it down and count growth rings.As you suspect, it is really difficult to diagnose a tree from pictures. Too many diseases have similar symptoms. One thing we do know is that whatever is wrong is highly contagious since all of the trees are affected. Fireblight is one of the most common diseases of Bradford pears, and I do suspect it. Regardless of what is wrong, I doubt any treatment will help. If it is fireblight, it is recommended to remove the trees and destroy all the wood. There is no treatment. The condition of the trees as shown in your first photos made me suspect they are dying. It may simply be something related to old age, but again, there is no treatment. One thing we know about sick trees is that they usually flower profusely and try to produce a lot of seeds. This is nature's way of preserving the species. As the old tree declines, more seeds mean a greater chance of young ones surviving. If you want to try to delay the progress of this condition, begin by pruning out all the affected branches. Then feed with a good general fertilizer, such as OsmoCote. Be sure to water during dry spells. I think your idea of replacing the trees is a better idea. If you go to this website, you'll find a list of small trees suitable for growing in Georgia: http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B625#title11 If you have more questions, just let me know. I hope that wjatever you decide to do, it will work out well. Anna My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service after you have all the information you need. I will greatly appreciate a positive rating as that is the only way I am compensated. Thank you!