Brown rot on Apples and Pears
If you’ve noticed soft, squidgy brown patches on your apples and pears, whether these are just harvested or currently in store, the chances are that this is the aptly named ‘Brown rot’ . Caused by a species of the Sclerotinia fungus , brown rot is a common and damaging problem.
What Causes Brown Rot
The spores are produced in vast quantities and are expelled from the numerous tiny raised creamy-white spots or pustules that you’ll notice on the brown patches. These pustules are almost always arranged in neat concentric circles and as soon as they are ripe the spores can be spread by water splash, rain and wind. Luckily, there is one good thing about this fungus, it seems to be incapable of attacking a fruit which is not already damaged – so fruit damaged by birds pecking, wasps, codling moth, splitting due to erratic moisture levels or attacked by the apple scab fungus are the ones which then succumb to brown rot. This means that for next year’s crop you need to do everything you can to avoid these common problems (and don’t worry I’ll be passing on lots of advice to help you out!)
How to Prevent Dry Rot Spreading
Right now you need to regularly check fruit in store and remove any which is showing even the very earliest signs of brown rot or any form of damage at all. The infection spreads really rapidly , so I suggest that you check stored fruit at least once a week.
It is also essential to check all the trees, a job which becomes easier as the leaves fall because this time you’re looking for mummified brown rot infected fruits. In some cases infected fruits don’t fall from the tree but remain hanging on the branches, wizened, dry and darker brown but still with those spore-bearing creamy-white pustules. Mummified fruits often withstand all the windy and rainy weather that autumn and winter throws at them and then, the following year they act as a source of spores to allow the new crop of fruits to be at risk. So, grab a long bamboo cane, broom handle or long-arm pruner and knock or cut these fruits off the tree. Then when they’re all at ground level, collect them and any soft fruits off the ground and bin or burn them.