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