Fig trees add character to the landscape and produce a bounty of tasty fruit. Pink limb blight can ruin the shape of a tree and destroy the crop. Read on to find out how to detect and treat this destructive disease.
What is Pink Fig Tree Blight?
Pink blight in figs is fairly common in the Eastern U.S. where summers are hot and humid. It is caused by the fungus Erythricium salmonicolor, also known as Corticum salmonicolor. There is no fungicide approved by the EPA for use on edible figs, so growers must rely on proper pruning to prevent and treat pink blight fig disease.
Fungal diseases of fig trees thrive in unpruned trees where air can’t circulate freely. You’ll often see the first signs of the pink blight fig disease in the center of the crown where the branches are thickest, and moisture accumulates. Look for limbs and twigs with a dirty-white or pale pink, velvety growth.
Treating Pink Blight in Figs
The only treatment is to remove affected stems and branches. Prune figs carefully, making your cuts at least 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm.) below the fungal growth. If there are no side shoots between what is left of the branch and the trunk, remove the entire branch.
It’s a good idea to disinfect pruning equipment between cuts to avoid spreading blight diseases of fig trees as you prune. Use a full-strength household disinfectant or a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach. Dip the pruners in the solution after every cut. You may not want to use your best pruners for this job, since household bleach causes pitting on metal blades. Wash and dry the tools thoroughly when the job is complete.
Fig tree blight doesn’t stand a chance in a properly pruned tree. Begin pruning while the tree is young, and keep it up as long as the tree continues to grow. Remove enough of the branches to prevent overcrowding and allow air to circulate. Make cuts as close as possible to the trunk of the tree. Unproductive stubs that you leave on the trunk are entry points for disease.