I need your help with a pear tree we planted in our backyard about 10 to 15 years ago. It seems to be dying a little at a time.
The leaves started turning brown last June and some of the limbs seem to be drying up.
I need someone to come look at the tree, but I don't know who to call. Can you help?
E.J. Esperanza, Sacramento
A sample of your tree would need to be inspected before a positive identification could be provided.
However, there are a couple of possibilities.
According to UC Master Gardener Mary Griggs, fire blight is a bacterial disease that infects apple and pear trees, especially during wet springs like we had last year.
The disease gets its name from the characteristic blackening and shriveling of affected shoots, flowers and young fruit, which look they have been singed by fire.
All diseased shoots on infected trees must be cut off and removed from the area. When cutting off the damaged wood, the cut should be made into undamaged wood.
It is also a good idea to sanitize your clippers after each cut is made.
More detailed information is available in "Pest Note 7414, Fire Blight." For a copy, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to: PN 7414, UC Cooperative Extension, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827.
This information is also available online at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu.
Most fruit and nut trees also are susceptible to root or crown rot. Symptoms include wilting of leaves and a general decline in growth and vigor, often on one side of the tree at first.
Crown rot can develop if soil around the base of the tree remains wet for prolonged periods.
Trees infected in the crown may decline rapidly and die within a year. They may leaf out normally in spring, then collapse and die suddenly with the first hot weather.
As for suggestions of local arborists, call the UC Master Gardeners hotline for your area. In Sacramento, the hotline is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
Call (916) 875-6913.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.
Send your questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to email@example.com. Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact your UC Extension directly, call:
Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays
Amador: (209) 223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email ceamador.ucdavis.edu
Butte: (530) 538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays
El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon on weekdays
Placer: (530) 889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays, or leave a message and calls will be returned
Nevada: (530) 273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message
Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605
Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned
Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays
Yolo:(530) 666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned