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Fireblight plant disease confirmed in Guernsey - Islanders are encouraged to check their apples, pears and hawthorn trees

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Friday 31 July 2020

Islanders are being encouraged to look out for signs of the Fireblight plant disease that has been recently confirmed on Guernsey in hopes of controlling, or eradicating, its spread on-island.

Fireblight is a serious plant disease which is present in the UK and most of mainland Europe but had been considered absent from Guernsey. This has recently changed with infection having been confirmed on apple and hawthorn in St Peters, and on hawthorn in the Forest.

From the outbreaks confirmed so far it is considered highly likely that infection will be present elsewhere and gardeners and landowners are being asked to check their trees and report any symptoms.

Typical symptoms include the blackening of flower clusters, and the withering of young shoots which can take on a scorched appearance. In severe cases whole branches and entire trees can become infected. From the outbreaks found to date it is thought likely that infection will be limited to young shoots which seem to be highly susceptible.

Other plants that can become infected include, Firethorn (Pyracantha), Cotoneaster, Juneberry (Amelanchier), Mountain Ash (Sorbus), Quince (Chaenomoles & Cydonia) and Medlar.

Nigel Clark, Plant Health Inspector for Guernsey said:

"The presence of Fireblight is a threat to apple orchards, hawthorn hedgerows and a range of garden plants. If your apple, pear or hawthorn trees have suddenly taken on a scorched appearance then they may have been infected with the bacterial disease Fireblight. It will be important to identify any outbreak sites to assess whether there is a chance that this disease can be eradicated locally."

If you think you have found an infected plant, samples of the infected flowers and shoots can be brought into the States Analytical Laboratory, Longue Rue, St Martin, GY4 6LD. Samples should include the transition between the dead and healthy parts of the plant, as this is where the disease will be most active.

Alternatively, symptoms can be reported to the Plant Health Inspector at agriculture@gov.gg or a phone message can be left on 01481 711161.

For more information on the disease visit https://gov.gg/fireblight.

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