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Q and A: Ball canning lids, pruning apple trees with fire blight, wine yeast, and canning butter — 12 Comments

  1. Hi Liz, Although the disease overwinters in cankers and other openings in the tree, it isn’t growing rapidly in cold weather. It most easily infects blossoms and flower stems in spring but it is systemic and once it infects the tree roots there is nothing you can do but remove the tree. If it is still warm (70s and above) and humid or raining where you live, and parts of your trees are oozing, the disease is active and other trees can be affected. You may want to apply fertilizer now or in spring, but don’t do it because new growth is most susceptible. Fireblight most often infects apples, crabapples, serviceberries, pears, raspberries and quince and some ornamental shrubs and trees. Fireblight likely won’t infect cherry fruit trees, but bacterial canker will, and the oozing from cankers and splits in the bark will look about the same. You have a tough decision to make. You have to consider the climate where you live as well as what you know about how badly infected your trees are. I have read about older antique varieties of full size apple trees that have lived with fireblight infections for years but the concern always is those oozing cankers, which contain thriving bacterial infections. If your trees are still oozing and you want to overwinter them, you’ll need to try to control or suppress the infection but my concern would be that the actively oozing areas can be walked on by birds, insects and bees which will spread the disease. If you decide to remove the trees you’ll need to practice extreme sanitary procedures and containment, and it would be best to do it when the bacteria are least active, which is cold weather, and when it is dry with no wind. You might want to take out any roots you can get to because the infection is systemic, and especially if the trees die, because that usually means the bacterial infection reached the roots. For the future, look for fireblight resistant varieties of full size trees, and fireblight resistant root stock on grafted trees. If a seller can’t tell you the rootstock of a grafted tree and whether it is resistant, buy from someone else who can. Then each spring think about a preventive spray when the disease is most active in your area. I live in a fireblight area that is also high wind, and in spring during blossom and early growth time I do preventive sprays and patrol my trees often, looking for any sign of fire blight or canker.

  2. Zelda,

    Thanks for the advice. That is what we are thinking. We will probably wait to see how they are in the spring. We are not overly attached to these trees, but they are our only apple trees. I am afraid they may infect our cherry trees though. I’d rather get rid of them to save the others.

    Do you think it’s ok to give them til spring? Or is that too risky for our other fruit trees?

    Thanks,

    Liz

  3. Diana,

    I still put my lids in simmering water then turn off the heat. I guess I’m old fashioned but feel better doing it and it works for me. Don’t boil the new lids as that will cause the sealing compound to become too hot and thin out, according to the company.

  4. Liz, it’s awful to do, but if fire blight is that big a problem where you live, you are better off long term to cut your infected trees down and start over with more resistant varieties, and perhaps grafted trees instead of full size. And if your tree is that badly infected, you likely won’t save the tree although it may live (and harbor the disease) for another few years. Be sure to spray often with a fireblight spray. I worked for over two years to save a tree that had bacterial canker, a similar disease, but in the end the canker won and the tree had to come out. I was being emotional about saving the tree, but very stupid to do what I did. I should have taken it out sooner, because all that time it was a source of infection to all of my other fruit trees and I’m lucky that so far none of them have symptoms. If you really love that tree, try to find some healthy small branches and graft them or have someone in your area do it. You can buy grafting stock and supplies from Raintree Nursery or other suppliers. That way you will still have the tree. You could also try planting seeds.

  5. I just bought brand new Ball lids and the boxes said to simmer prior to using. The box of Kerr brand I had said to just wash and use.

  6. Thanks for the info on fire blight. We are trying to prune it all out. I am finding that our entire town has it in most fruit trees. We have large trees, and will have to prune them back to nothing, but if it saves the tree, it’s worth it.

  7. Do you plan to use this wash and dry method with canning lids or will you continue to heat them in simmering water? I’m leery of this “new”method and will continue heating them.

  8. So glad to see the advice from Arleen about dealing with fire blight. It is extremely contagious and in addition to people can be spread by bees, birds insects and pets. Many fruit trees besides apple get it, so as a precaution I spray my pruning cuts with a fungicide (although fire blight is a bacterial infection) or fire blight spray and always prune on a dry, warm, sunny day. There are a number of fireblight sprays on the market now, some of which contain antibiotics. I’d use one or more of those sprays on the cuts in addition to the infection control Arleen mentioned. The pruned wood has to be contained and removed. Because fire blight infection often starts in the flowers, pick a late flowering fruit variety or spray the blossoms – which can endanger the survival of bees. A tree with fire blight can act as an infection reservoir and endanger fruit trees around it so you’re often faced with removing an infected tree completely to preserve the health of others.

  9. So glad to see the advice from Arleen about dealing with fire blight. It is extremely contagious and in addition to people can be spread by bees, birds insects and pets. Many fruit trees besides apple get it, so as a precaution I spray my pruning cuts with a fungicide or fire blight spray and always prune on a dry, warm, sunny day. There are a number of fireblight sprays on the market now, some of which contain antibiotics. I’d use one or more of those sprays on the cuts in addition to the infection control Arleen mentioned. The pruned wood has to be contained and removed. Because fire blight infection often starts in the flowers, pick a late flowering f

  10. If you freeze some of the sediment from the bottom of your fermentation vestle it should grow. I would thaw it and feed it with some apple juice before use or you could just use the yeasts from the apple skins although you will not get a consistant flavour this way, this is how it was originally made,

  11. I read an online about freezing wine yeast…making a strong starter and then harvesting the yeast on the bottom and putting it into a testtube with glecerin and freezing.Results are iffy due to ice crystals. What I do is keep a starter in the refrigerator with a siphon on it.Every 3 months or so I add more grape juice to it.this has been successful-very much the same as sourdough starter for me. Occasionally I will let it grow faster on the window sill for a day ,