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European brown rot, rotting fruit, techniques and treatments to avoid and cure the disease

European brown rot infecting a fruit

European brown rot is a fungal disease caused by fungus that attacks fruit trees and can seriously impact harvests. 

It targets fruits and makes them rot. This disease is characterized by rotting fruit and is caused by Monilinia, a family of fungus species.

The only way to get rid of this disease is to deal with it as soon as fruits and leaves have fallen and prepare for the following season in spring.


Conditions leading to appearance and spread of European brown rot

Like most fungal diseases, moisture is what triggers its appearance.

European brown rot usually appears in spring.

Most commonly attacked fruit trees

Most fruit trees can be hit.

European brown rot can attack apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, quinces, lemon trees, orange trees, peach trees or plum trees.

Symptoms of rotten fruit disease

Pear rotting while still on the treeA brown blemish appears on the fruit, which softens until mushy, and spreads to cover the entire fruit. In its final stages it wrinkles the fruit which ends up entirely rotten. Sometimes it looks like rings spreading around the fruit.

Fruits then turn grayish and develop a granulated texture, and stay attached to the tree all winter long if not removed.

It is very important to get rid of them and destroy them.

On the picture, a pear tree infected with rotting fruit disease give the impression of fruits that rot while still on the tree.

Best practices to fight European brown rot

Treating against brown fruit rot must be done in stages throughout the year, with the first step at the time that leaves and fruits fall from the tree, in fall.

  • Be careful! Spores from the fungus are propagated by wind, and these mushroom “seeds” may overwinter on branches, leaves, and on fruits that remain attached to trees.
  • Spray Bordeaux mixture in fall and winter, repeating this step 2 to 3 times at a two-week interval.
  • In spring, you might also want to treat with fenbuconazole-based products, often sold under the name “fruit tree disease treatment”.
    It is sprayed on the trees when blooming to avoid fruit rot appearing altogether.
  • In spring, again, after the first fruits have appeared on the trees, thin them out.
    You can even cut certain branches off to avoid having too many fruits.
Fruits should not touch, otherwise the fungus will spread much too quickly. The fungus tends to make sick fruits stick to nearby healthy ones to spread more easily.
  • Preventive care:
    In fall, gather leaves and fruits and burn them or toss them away in a remote spot of you garden.
  • Curative care:
    As soon as the disease appears, remove all diseased fruits.

More than anything, avoid wounding the tree. If you detect a wound on any portion of the tree, protect it immediately with wound-healing paste.

See also:

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY-SA 2.0: Len Worthington
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