Brown Rot: How Does It Affect Your Peach And Plum Trees?

If the fruit of your nectarines and plum trees begin to rot, you may fear that something's very wrong with your trees. Your fruit trees may have brown rot. Brown rot develops from a fungus called Monolinia fructicola. The fungus attacks the fruit and flowers of nectarine, plum, and other trees of the "stone fruit" family. Without intervention, brown rot can spread and infect other fruit trees. Here's more information about brown rot and how you can stop it.

What's Brown Rot?

Brown rot is a disease that affects stone fruit trees and crops. Stone fruits develop from large, hard seeds, such as the seeds you find inside your nectarines and plums. Stone fruit trees typically bear fruit during the months of June to September. However, the crops of stone fruit trees are vulnerable to low temperatures in the winter and brown rot in the spring.

Brown rot generally affects the blossoms, or flowers, of stone fruit trees. Blossoms will appear gray and mushy during the initial attacks. As the disease spreads, it attacks the trees' twigs and stems, then later spreads to the trees' fruit.

At first glance, your trees' fruit will appear normal in size and color. But as you look closer, you'll see the telltale signs of brown rot. Depending on the severity of the disease, some of your fruit will develop brown spots or circles, while other fruit will appear completely covered in a grayish-brown mass of fungal spores. As the disease progresses, all of your fruit will eventually become grayish-brown before it mummifies, or dries up.

Brown rot isn't something you can just ignore, as the disease can use the insects and wind to spread to healthy fruit trees. In this case, you'll need to take action as soon as possible to keep your trees safe.

How Do You Stop Brown Rot?

It's important that you contact a Certified Arborist and tree service provider for assistance with your trees. Although not all tree fungi harm humans, some fungi may cause complications in people who have weakened immune systems or poor health. So keep this in mind, even if you're relatively healthy.

A tree specialist will generally inspect all of your property's trees for signs of brown rot, not just the affected fruit trees. Brown rot can hibernate during certain times of the year, so a tree contractor will need to check every tree for signs of infection. 

After the inspection, a contractor may go ahead and remove the infected twigs, stems, branches, blossoms, and fruit from the trees. These precautionary measures help control the spread of the brown rot fungus. In addition, an arborist may treat your trees with a fungicide. A fungicide essentially "kills" fungi and the spores they create. A specialist may begin the treatment right away, or at a later date. A tree contractor will discuss the best time to administer the fungicide treatment in greater detail when they complete the inspection.

If fungus damaged your trees beyond treatment, you may need to prune prune or trim them. Pruning allows new growth to occur in your trees. If the trees suffer from significant fungal damage in the bark or branches, you may need to remove them. Weakened branches and trees can potentially fall or collapse. If someone stands beneath a falling branch or toppling tree, they become injured.

After treatment, monitor your trees carefully, especially during the early spring when brown rot usually shows up. Remove any fruit that appears rotted, including fruit that drops to the ground. If you notice signs of brown rot in the future, have an arborist come by and inspect your trees.

To learn more about brown rot and how it affects your fruit trees, contact a tree service provider, such as R. L. Elliott Enterprises, Inc., today.