Fireblight spreads to a pear plantation in Åland


<p>A plant disease called fireblight, which is one the most harmful diseases of apple and pear trees in Europe, has been found at a pear plantation in Åland for the first time. The distribution of the disease and the necessary measures are being investigated by the Government of Åland, with the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira assisting in the control and prevention of the disease. Fireblight is harmless to humans and animals.</p>

The sample taken by the Government of Åland tested positive for the fireblight plant disease, which is caused by the Erwinia amylovora bacterium. The samples were taken from a pear tree at the fruit plantation and examined by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. The entry route of the disease to Åland is not yet known.

In addition to the apple and pear, other host plants of the disease are the juneberry, rowan, hawthorn and cotoneaster, which are common also in Finland.  

Fireblight is a harmful plant disease as it is difficult to eradicate, it causes significant financial loss, and it cannot be prevented with plant protection products. All EU countries, including Finland, are now affected by the disease.

Fruit trees found to be contaminated must be destroyed. The Government of Åland will make a decision on the eradication. A more extensive survey of the distribution of the disease in Åland will be carried out in summer 2015.

About two-thirds of Finland’s fruit crops are produced in Åland.

Fireblight symptoms include black and bent dead shoots

As a symptom of the disease, the blossoms wither and turn dark brown or black in colour, but do not usually fall off. Young shoots and branches wither and turn dark, and their tips bend downwards. Dead shoots and leaves remain on the tree and look burnt, as the name depicts. The fruit turn dark, remain on the tree and mummify. The symptoms of the disease are most noticeable in mid and late summer.

Fireblight spreads via contaminated seedlings from one country to another and regionally through birds and rain. Fireblight is also spread by pollinating insects, such as bees.

Related topics:
Press release of Åland  (in Swedish)
Information of fireblight (EPPO Data Sheet)  Fireblight  
Frequently asked questions: Fireblight
Information for private persons – import of plants from EU countries
To report suspected fireblight in mainland Finland, please contact (in Finnish)
To report suspected fireblight in Åland, please contact annika.hollsten  /files/images/at-merkki/at-merkki.gif : 1Kb
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Further information:
Jari Poutanen, Head of Section, tel. +358 40 845 4869


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