Backyard fruit trees can be an excellent addition to your garden, but they can be destroyed by fungal diseases like brown rot. Here are three things gardeners need to know about brown rot.
What causes brown rot?
Brown rot is caused by Monilinia laxa, a type of fungus. These fungi can overwinter on infected plant matter, like twigs or fallen leaves. In the spring, weather conditions like wind or rain can spread these infected materials to new areas. In this way, the fungi can make their way to your backyard and infect your trees.
M. laxa spreads easily in warm, wet weather, so gardeners in these climates need to be alert. In the United States, brown rot is most common in California, but it's also frequently seen in both the Midwest and the Northeast.
What are the signs of brown rot?
Brown rot often develops in the spring. Your trees will produce blossoms like they usually do, but the blossoms will then die and form a spore mass. This spore mass will be gray and fuzzy. The fungi will spread to the rest of your tree, and you'll see cankers on the bark. Cankers are sunken, discolored lesions that occur when part of the bark dies.
It's possible for brown rot to develop later in the season. The maturing fruit on your trees will develop brown spots, and within a few days, will be totally covered in fungi.
Can brown rot kill trees?
While losing your fruit crop is bad enough, this disease can also kill your trees. Cankers are very dangerous for fruit trees, especially young trees. If the dead area encircles the entire trunk, your trees' water distribution systems can be blocked or destroyed. Cankers can also weaken the trees, which may then be blown over by wind.
To treat your trees, you'll need to remove the infected branches and diseased fruit. If your trees are large, it's a good idea to have a tree service do this for you. Once the diseased parts are removed, the trees can be treated with fungicides. All-purpose fungicides are suitable for destroying the brown rot fungi.
Brown rot can occur again in the future, so your fruit trees should be treated with preventative fungicides every spring. This treatment should be applied before the blossoms appear, and then repeated on a regular schedule until the blossoms fade.
For more information, contact A-1 Expert Tree Service or a similar company.