How to treat brown rot

brown rot on an apple

Treating your fruit trees

It may be a really wet spring this year, but spring is underway here in Texas, and because of the rough winter we had, yes, the snowstorm, many homeowners are discovering brown rot.  Brown rot in fruit trees can be devastating to your landscape, but there may be brown rot help available for your particular situation. 

Let’s talk about brown rot disease and what causes brown rot. Brown rot is a fungal disease attacking shrubs and trees the Prunus genus. Within that genus, fruit trees are targeted by brown rot disease.  Among those fruit trees most susceptible are: 

  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Nectarines

Brown rot can cause a loss of fifty percent or more, devasting for a homeowner, but especially for a farmer depending on their fruit tree crops for a living. For a farmer or any homeowner that takes pride in growing fruit trees, knowing what causes brown rot is important so they can take any necessary steps to prevent it from starting and spreading. 

Here in the United States, the biggest cause of brown rot is Monilinia. This disease is common around the world, affecting fruit trees and devastating farms as it spreads. There are different species of Monilinia, but here in this country, brown rot is caused by fructicola, the most common of all Monilinia. 

How do you get rid of brown rot?

After a wet spring like we’re experiencing now, brown rot is common. If your fruit trees are healthy, they will survive an attack of the brown rot, but of course, controlling it is essential, and the sooner the better.  It isn’t hard to spot  brown rot, and once you learn what it is and what it looks like, you’ll never forget.  

For fruit trees that are already brown rot infected, a fungicide treatment is your best brown rot killer course of action. However, you must first remove any diseased fruit and diseased twigs before applying your brown rot fungicide. There isn’t any special brown rot fungicide, any all-purpose fruit tree fungicide will be effective in controlling brown rot disease.

plum with brown rot

Can you prevent brown rot?

You know the old saying “An ounce of prevention …. “ ?  This couldn’t be any more true when it comes to brown rot control. Following these suggestions can keep brown rot at bay when done on a regular basis: 

  • Sanitation is a must when growing and handling fruit trees. At the end of harvest, all fruit should be picked, leaving nothing behind. This is one of the best ways to prevent brown rot from getting a foothold for your next planting season. 
  • If brown rot has attacked, remove all damaged fruit and twigs then burn them. Brown rot cankers can attack fallen fruit that is unaffected and rake any fallen twigs to burn too. 
  • Your fungicide treatment should be started in early spring before the flower buds start to appear. 
  • Reapply the fungicide treatment no more than every two, no less than every three weeks, up until the blossoms fade. 
  • Once the fruit gains a blush color, begin applying the fungicide treatment again every two to three weeks prior to your scheduled harvesting. 

Additionally, it is essential to follow proper pruning procedures to control brown rot, especially when it has been a wet season as we have had this spring. Proper pruning provides highest amount of air circulation and sunlight which controls brown rot from occurring.

Take care of insect wounds, no matter how small the opening. Fungus can find a home in any size insect opening.  Controlling brown rot is an ongoing procedure when growing fruit trees. While insects can be a harm themselves, it is how they leave the holes behind that can create room for brown rot to find a foothold and spread. 

The brown rot life cycle begins with the disease taking hold with twig cankers or rotten fruit left in trees and on the ground. Springtime, conidial spores form from the rotten fruit and then travel by insect, rain, and wind, spreading to susceptible plant tissue like blossoms, infecting the trees. 

The brown rot infection can cause blossom blight and create infection in growing fruits. The infection will remain dormant until just before harvest time when there is an increase in fruit sugar content. These spores infect other fruit that is developing during the season, especially where cracks or insect wounds are present. 

With this knowledge, it is clear to see why consistent pruning is necessary, including removal of undesired or unusable fruit is concerned. From the twig to the fruit, removing any that has been affect with brown rot must be removed and burned to keep it from spreading further. There is no guarantee you’ll never experience brown rot, but at the very least, the information we’ve provided can help minimize the disease from happening and keep it from spreading if your fruit trees experience it. Need help with brown rot in Fort Worth, TX? Call 817-882-6499 today.