Brown Rot is the Pits

Brown Rot is the Pits

Homesteading is full of challenges and I’m always discovering new ones. I’d consider myself a beginner orchardist, so my fruit trees have opened a whole new area of learning.

I wasn’t sure if we’d get peaches this year because we had a late freeze right in the middle of blooming. A lot of peaches formed, but most of them fell from the tree. The tree has grown by leaps and bounds this season and has a lot of foliage. A few chickens have taken to roosting in it so my husband joked that it was because of their droppings.

It seemed as if all of the peaches had dropped, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there will still some hidden among all of the leaves. The remaining peaches are a nice hefty size and are starting to ripen but a few days ago I was alarmed to find that some had a mold growing on them! I had to research what it was and what to do about it.

Before pruning: our peach tree had put on a lot of growth this spring.

Looking at that picture above, would you believe that I drastically pruned that tree earlier this spring? I did, and I have a blog post to prove it! Below is the “after” picture from that pruning.

Patiently Pruning Peaches and Pears
“After” photo of early spring pruning.

Monilinia Fruiticola

Monilinia Fruiticola, aka “Brown Rot,” seems to be the culprit. Evidently, it affects all stone fruits (with pits, get my title? LOL), so I’ll need to watch my cherry trees for it as well. They’re planted on the opposite side of the yard from the peach trees, so hopefully that will help prevent it from spreading to them. From what I’ve read, wet and humid weather contributes to the problem and we’ve had a very wet spring and early summer.

Signs of Brown Rot

The ugly signs of Brown Rot are:

  • Brown, wilted blossoms.
  • Dark, sunken spots on new shoots, and brown, hanging leaves on infected limbs.
  • Affected fruit develops small spots of rot that enlarge quickly.
  • Rotting fruit develops fuzzy tan or gray spores that cover the fruit’s surface.
  • If left on the tree, the fruit shrivels and hardens up into “mummies.”
A “mummy”

I’m glad that I gave the peach tree such a thorough pruning in the spring, otherwise my problem might be worse. In the future I’ll keep an eye out for the signs of infected limbs and remove them asap.

An infected limb.

What to Do About It?

Here are the recommendations I’ve found:

  • Remove all infected fruit immediately and dispose of it.
  • Trim out any infected branches, cleaning the pruners between cuts.
  • Dispose of infected material. Do not compost.
  • In the winter remove infected twigs. Identify by looking for cankers.
  • Practice good sanitation habits by cleaning up fallen fruit under the tree.
  • Also spray for the Plum curculio, the insect responsible for the worms found around stone fruit. Their damage is what allows the mold spores to enter the fruit.
  • Plant resistant varieties.


Insect damage which offered entry point to fungus.


Another damaged limb.



Ready for Battle

Armed with this information, the following morning I headed outside with my pruners and loppers. I cut out any obviously diseased branches, plus more that didn’t have fruit on them to open up the canopy to more sunlight and airflow. I removed the diseased peaches and put them into a plastic bag to contain the fungal spores. Also, I took out a spray bottle with diluted bleach and sprayed my tools often. I’m not sure if that’s the best thing to use, but I wanted to try to prevent spreading the fungus. When the Mule was loaded up, my sweet husband drove it all away to another part of the farm for disposal.

A Mule load of peach branches.

The end result was a tree that was much more open. I ran out of time that morning, but the next step is to spray it with some copper fungicide. I also got some spray for the insects that damage the fruit, which then enables the fungus to enter.

The peach tree after my pruning job. Huge difference!

I’ll put up the best fight I can to save the remaining peaches. It sure would be nice to make a peach cobbler as my reward. Wish me luck!


Mid-Life Blogger's Peach Cobbler

I was able to save some peaches and rewarded my efforts with this yummy peach cobbler.

Mid-Life Blogger's Peach Cobbler
Mid-Life Blogger’s Peach Cobbler


Related Reading

Patiently Pruning Peaches and Pears


  1. Spring Lake Homestead

    Well, I “liked” this post but really…. 🙁 I am so sorry to hear that. Prior to the hail storm, we were seeing issues on some of our plants (mainly the plums and cherries) that we’ll need to take a closer look at. I hope it does better next year!

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      Michelle Curren

      Me, too. Oh, well, at least I know what to look for. I’ve already salvaged a few peaches, and I think I’ll get a few more. Enough to make a cobbler, at least.

      1. Spring Lake Homestead

        That’s good! I’d feel better about ours, but there’s maybe a handful of peaches right now, and no cherries….we didn’t get any!

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  2. lakesidemom

    Ugh… fruit trees (and all gardening) can be so overwhelmingly distressing sometimes. I often think about how glorious gardening will be in heaven, with not rot, fungus, insect destruction, thorns, or weeds!

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  3. Elizabeth

    I wish I had a peach tree, I love peach pie and cobbler. However I’ve got friends that have experienced the same problems that you have. At least you know what to do. We had a plum tree awhile back that got a fungus and lost the whole tree. The only fruit tree we had that we were successful with was a plum tree. Hope your trees get better 🙂


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      Michelle Curren

      Thank you! Me, too! I have managed to save some peaches. In fact, I made a yummy cobbler for dinner and my family all loved it. I think I’ll write it up and share it. I’m so sorry you lost your tree! That’s terrible! I sure hope ours doesn’t get that bad.

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