It’s not uncommon, particularly after rain, to see some brown rot developing in stone fruit like apricots (you might also see it in peaches and nectarines). Notice how the brown rot often starts around a hole?
The holes might be caused by a tiny pest called carpophilus beetles, or in this case, earwigs! The combination of a small hole in the fruit, and a bit of rain can lead to a bit of a brown rot outbreak in your tree.
A lot of the infected fruit tends to fall to the ground, and also it’s important to remove any that you see in the tree to stop it spreading. Be sure to clean them up from the ground (goats or chooks will love to eat them) to help keep the tree disease free next year.
Controlling brown rot, like all fruit tree diseases, relies on the 8 principles of disease prevention:
- Love your soil
- Prevention is easier than cure
- Protect the predators
- Encourage variety in your garden
- Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene
- Maintain your trees
- Monitor your trees regularly
- Plan your fruit tree garden.
You’ll find more detail about the 8 principles, and details of how to manage 27 different diseases of fruit trees in What’s That Spot? Common diseases of deciduous fruit trees.
We’re often asked how much fruit you can expect to pick from a fully grown tree, particularly when people are planning their garden and trying to decide how many trees they need to supply their family’s fruit needs.
Summer is a good time of year to answer the question, because we have the chance to actually measure (as oppose to guess!) how much fruit a tree can produce. Ella is picking from a 10 year old ‘Anzac’ heritage white peach tree, grown as a vase, and re-grafted onto what was originally grown as a ‘Goldmine’ white nectarine tree. It’s quite mature and at its full size.
You can’t see the full tree from this photo, but a vase-shaped tree normally has 6-10 limbs; this one has eight. Anzacs are notorious for being small fruit, so they need really hard thinning. These trees were thinned hard, but had a touch of leaf curl early in the season which slowed the growth of the fruit early on, and because Anzacs are such early ripening fruit, the result is that the crop is quite small this year.
We pick them into trays like this,and a tray of small fruit weighs about 2.4 kg. From this tree we picked an average of two trays to the limb, which works out to about 35 kg for the tree. About 1/4 of those, or 9 kg, were second grade (the birds had got into them…). Plus, when we picked up all the damaged ones from the ground there were about another 4 kg there that were too damaged to use (but if we’d got to them a day or two earlier some would probably have been good enough for jam or drying). These go to pig food.
So, altogether this tree yielded 39 kg of fruit, which is pretty typical for a large mature peach tree. You can soon see why it doesn’t take very many healthy trees to provide a year’s supply of fruit for your family.
If you want to find out more about the correct time and technique to pick your fruit, check out Fruit to be Proud Of.
What can we say? When we get it wrong and don’t get the earwig tape on our trees early enough (or at all…) this is what can happen.
Earwigs just love soft fruit like cherries and apricots, and as you can see from this photo, will take up residence in numbers.
This is a problem that tends to be worse on young trees; on mature trees, we find that the ratio of earwigs to fruit is much lower, and we have a smaller ratio of damaged fruit – though of course, we’d prefer none!
Earwigs are a very common pest, and trying to get rid of them is basically impossible (though chooks do love them, which is a great reason to let your chickens browse under your fruit trees.
The lesson is, as with all pest and disease control, focus on the potential damage that can be done to your fruit rather than on the pest, and think about strategies that will stop them getting to the fruit, rather than wishing you could control the number of earwigs, which is basically impossible unless you adopt a “scorched earth” spray-and-kill strategy, which inevitably does more harm to the environment than good.
Find out more about organic pest control strategies here.