Seeing your beautiful stone fruit develop the brown, mushy spots that are the main symptom of Brown rot is disappointing, to say the least.

Watching the rot spread over the whole fruit is pretty horrible.

It can be really devastating if the infection spreads from one piece of fruit to another, or (worst of all) from tree to tree.

So at this time of year, it’s really important to monitor for Brown rot.

Clingstone peach with brown rot showing how easily it can spread from one piece of fruit to another
Clingstone peach with brown rot showing how easily it can spread from one piece of fruit to another

When does Brown rot develop?

In our part of the world in southeast Australia, our typically hot, dry conditions don’t usually favour the disease.

But a rainy season can quickly change that. Fungal disease LOVES rain.

This year, the wet weather has definitely put more pressure on the apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums.

If you’ve had a rainy fruit season in your part of the world, you’re at a much higher risk of a Brown rot outbreak. It particularly loves weather that is both wet and warm.

Clingstone peaches with brown rot, destined for the kitchen
Clingstone peaches with brown rot, destined for the kitchen

What should you do to manage Brown rot?

It’s important to pick any fruit that shows symptoms. Make sure you dispose of it well away from the tree. Put in the compost, feed to animals, or cook (after you cut off the bad bits, of course).

The infection can spread horrifyingly quickly, especially in rainy weather. Monitor your trees once a week, and remove infected fruit. This gives your remaining fruit the best chance of staying healthy. 

There’s NO need to pull all the fruit off. That just needlessly wastes fruit that may still be able to be saved.

Brown rot spreading through a whole bunch of President plums
Brown rot spreading through a whole bunch of President plums

Even in organic gardens and farms, it’s possible to take preventive action to minimise the risk of diseases like Brown rot.

Prevention is better than cure

Hygiene (such as removing fruit as described above) is one of the most important, but you should also aim to keep a ‘cover’ spray of one of the safe organic fungicides on your trees at all times.

Brown rot spreading from one piece of fruit to another in a bunch of President plums
Hugh demonstrating a backpack spray unit that’s the perfect size for most home gardens

If you only have a few trees to manage, you can quickly and simply do this job with a simple sprayer, as Hugh is demonstrating here.

With more trees to manage, you may want a more mechanised set-up.

There are so many spray systems available, you can be sure there’s one to suit your size of garden or farm.

But it can be really hard to figure out which is the best one for your exact situation, and what’s the best balance between budget and value.

We’re always very much in favour of keeping costs down. It’s not worth spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a system that’s too big and sophisticated for your needs.

On the other hand, you may be able to save yourself many, many hours (and therefore $$) by investing in a sprayer that will do the job you need quickly and efficiently. We’ve demystified the whole topic in our short online course Choose the Right Spray Gear.

The ideal spray system depends on a few things:

  • how many trees you have
  • your topography (i.e. how steep your block is)
  • what equipment you already have (e.g. whether you have a tractor or quad bike to pull a spray tank)
  • available budget
  • your capacity to use different types of equipment, and
  • your goals for your fruit trees.

If you’re hoping to sell some of your fruit, for example, make sure you can spray quickly, easily, and as often as you need to. It might just be what makes the difference between picking a crop … or not!

Spraying with organic fungicides can make the difference between harvesting a crop or losing the lot!
Spraying with organic fungicides can make the difference between harvesting a crop or losing the lot!