It’s common, particularly after rain, to see some brown rot developing in your apricots. You might also see it in peaches and nectarines. Warm, rainy weather is such a risk to fruit growers that the Bureau of Meteorology even issues brown rot warnings.

Notice how the brown rot often starts around a hole?

The holes might be caused by a tiny pest called Carpophilus beetle, insects called garden weevils, or in this case, earwigs.

How do we know? Because earwigs classically leave tell-tale round holes in fruit, as you can see in this photo.

Earwig and earwig damage can be the precursor to brown rot on apricots

The combination of a small hole in the fruit, and a bit of rain can lead to a bit of a brown rot outbreak in your apricot tree.

A lot of the infected fruit tends to fall to the ground. Be sure to clean up any fallen fruit from the ground. If they’re not too far gone, you should be able to cut out the rotten part, and eat or cook with the rest of the fruit.

If they’re not good enough to eat, they can safely go in the compost, or animals like goats or chooks will love to eat them. This will help stop the spread of the disease this season. It will also help keep the tree disease-free next year.

It’s important to remove any rotten apricots that you see in the tree, to stop the disease from spreading from one piece of fruit to another. Pieces of fruit that are touching are particularly vulnerable.

Ripe apricots on the ground under the tree
Ripe apricots on the ground under the tree

How to prevent brown rot from developing

Controlling brown rot, like all fruit tree diseases, relies on the 8 principles of disease prevention:

  1. Love your soil
  2. Prevention is easier than cure
  3. Protect the predators
  4. Encourage variety in your garden
  5. Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene
  6. Maintain your trees
  7. Monitor your trees regularly
  8. Plan your fruit tree garden.

You’ll find more detail about the 8 principles, and details of how to manage 27 different diseases of fruit trees in What’s That Spot? Common diseases of deciduous fruit trees.

Is it too late to prevent brown rot if I’ve already got it?

Some fungal diseases are untreatable once you have them. Leaf curl in peaches and nectarines is a classic example. But others, like brown rot, are definitely worth treating to stop them spreading and getting worse.

The main solution is to use a “cover spray” of an allowable organic fungicide. We prefer sulphur, as we explain in our free Pest and Disease webinar. It’s one of the least harmful, it’s relatively easy to use, and (if you use the right type) it can be very effective.