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We have several fruit trees, which we planted five years ago…

Charles Asked

We have several fruit trees, which we planted five years ago in our back yard of 1 acre. We have two cherry trees, two apple trees, one peach tree, and one plum tree. They all produced fruit, but as soon as the fruit started growing bigger, the fruit started drying up, so all we had was a bunch of brown, dried fruit, and that was on all the trees. I tried to find out what was causing this, but couldn’t. Could you please tell me what is causing this and give me a cure before they start blooming again?

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The Gardener’s Answer

There is nothing better than being able to harvest fruit from your own garden. It can be just as disappointing when things don’t work out as planned. Other than the rotted fruit, did you notice any unusual growths or sunken parts on the foliage, trunks or branches?

Cherries, peaches, and plums are all considered stone fruit, which are susceptible to a fungal disease called brown rot. Although there are other diseases, brown rot is the most common that we deal with in Kentucky. It’s more common during warm, humid weather and especially during extreme wet periods. Apples can also be susceptible to disease problems, including rot and blight.

For a positive diagnosis you can have a certified arborist come out, or take a sample to your agriculture/horticulture agent at your County Cooperative Extension Service. The Hart County offices are located at 505 A.A. Whitman Lane or you can reach them at (270) 524-2451.

It is always best to choose disease-resistant cultivars and provide them with ideal growing conditions. Good sanitation is essential in eliminating future infection. All infected fruit and plant debris should be removed and disposed of. Otherwise, spores will over-winter on mummified fruit and recontamination will occur the following spring as the spores are dispersed by wind and rain. In some cases, a spray program is necessary. Check out this publication on homegrown fruit in Kentucky.

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