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The Incessant Battle Against Fire Blight in Pears: 30 Years of Challenges and Successes in Managing the Disease in Israel
- Shtienberg, Dani, Manulis-Sasson, Shulamit, Zilberstaine, Miriam, Oppenheim, Dov, Shwartz, Hagai
- Plant disease 2015 v.99 no.8 pp. 1048-1058
- Erwinia amylovora, bacteria, disease outbreaks, fruit trees, growers, industry, pathogens, pears, Israel
- Fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, is the most destructive disease of pears and other pome fruit trees worldwide. The disease was first detected in Israel in 1985, and in the 30 years since, the intensity of fire blight epidemics has varied markedly. During this time, there were two national pandemics: the first between 1994 and 1996 and the second in 2010. In both cases, it was feared that the Israeli pear industry would not recover. National efforts were devoted to combat the problem and after both pandemics the industry survived. In this paper we indicate some unique characteristics that play a crucial role in the epidemiology of the disease under Israeli conditions. We then describe the continual struggle of the Israeli pear industry with fire blight over the last 30 years, elaborating on the two national pandemics and the efforts devoted to cope with them. Finally, we summarize the conclusions derived from our local experience and present our future perspectives regarding fire blight management. The take-home message of the Israeli fire blight story is that the battle against this hazardous disease is neverending. In some years, growers are able to adequately suppress the disease; in others, the pathogen overcomes management efforts and severe outbreaks occur. The latter could be minimized if growers have a full understanding of the management protocols suitable for the conditions and applied them rigorously.