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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.
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.
A wet season (like when we’re in the middle of a La Nina weather pattern) definitely puts more pressure on the stone fruit. The main fruits that are vulnerable are apricots, peaches and nectarines, but cherries and plums can also get the disease.
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.
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.
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.
If you only have a few trees to manage, you can quickly and simply do this job with a simple sprayer. 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.
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!
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Brown rot can quickly ruin the fruit on your fruit trees. Learn how to prevent it, and what to do if you have it.