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When brown rot attacks your summer fruit.

When brown rot attacks your summer fruit

Summer brings an unwelcome guest tomany fruit trees: brown rot. This disease, caused by the Monilia fungus, strikes apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, and other stone fruits. Maturing fruit develops soft brown areas that gradually spread until they affect the entire fruit.

As the disease progresses, fruits mayshrivel and eventually develop white powdery spores. These shriveled fruits are called "mummies.'

Over the winter, brown rot spores cansurvive on the mummies and the dormant branches. If conditions are mild and damp the following spring, the spores may infect emerging blossoms and, through them, reinfect the branches. First symptoms are collapse and blackening of blossoms, and shriveling of embryo fruit. Branches and twigs may crack and ooze sap.

To stop this cycle of invasion

Clean up all affected fruit that hasdropped to the ground, as well as fallen leaves that might harbor the spores. Be sure to remove any rotten or shriveled fruit and blighted twigs still on the tree. Place this infected material into a bag, seal, and discard. Don't put any diseased fruit or foliage in your compost pile.

You might want to place plastic nettingover the tree to control birds, since their damage to the fruit can set the stage for infection.

To reduce the chances of recurrence,prune out wood that shows disease damage. And keep the tree pruned to let sunlight in and improve air circulation.

Be careful with your watering schedule.Trees that are allowed to alternate between sogginess and severe drying often develop cracked fruit which is highly susceptible to the disease.

Next spring, watch for signs of rotting. Ifyou notice withering of blossoms or twigs, remove them at once and spray the tree with the fungicide benomyl (also sold as benlate and tersan).

If you have sprayed in the past withoutsuccess, make sure you are applying the fungicide thoroughly. One spraying at the red-bud or popcorn stage (about 5 percent of blossoms open) should do the trick, unless rain occurs. In that case, reapply according to label directions.

Photo: Bull's-eye rotting spot aboveand mummified fruit at right show brown rot has had its way with this apricot tree
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jun 1, 1987
Words:360
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