Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Apple Rots Common This Time of Year: Bitter Rot is the Most Prevalent

As apple harvent gets into full swing, many growers and backyard orchardists are encountering a variety of fruit rots.  Some of these rots are initiated by insect entry wounds or hail, and others are caused by fungal pathogens.

The most common of the fungal fruit rots is bitter rot.  

Initial infections begin as early as bloom and continue until about one month after petal fall.  Early symptoms are small, slightly sunken lesions that eventually develop concentric rings (bulls eye pattern).  Under moist conditions, spores turn a distinct salmon color.  Cutting into infected fruit reveals a V-shaped internal rot.

The fungus overwinters in mummified fruit, crevices in bark, and dead wood such as fire blight damaged tissue.  Removal of mummified fruit, cankers, and dead wood helps reduce inoculum for the following season.  Diseased fruit should be discarded immediately.  Fungicides are only effective with good sanitation, so these cultural practices are a necessary step in disease prevention and control.

Current recommendations indicate fungicide applications soon after petal fall (no later than first cover) and continue until harvest.  Fungicides  captan, mancozeb (dithane, manzate, penncozeb), polyram, and ziram are recommended on 10-14 day schedules.  Note:   Symptoms do not always occur immediately after infection, and it is sometimes late in the season before symptoms appear.  However, fruit should be protected in the early stages of development.

Some cultivars are more resistant or tolerant of bitter rot disease than others.  Cultivar susceptibility table available at .


  1. Is the pathogen responsible for Bitter Rot one of the Botrytis species? I'm not familiar with it in apples.

    Thanks for the article!

  2. No, Botrytis spp. do not cause apple rots. Botryosphaeia spp. are the causal agents for black rot and white rot. Colletotrichum causes bitter rot. Overall, bitter rot is the most common fruit rot in Kentucky. Keep in mind, though, that physical damage (hail, insects, birds) can induce rotting of fruit. This is not what we mean when we refer to fruit rots.!/photo.php?fbid=414552941936099&set=a.226497504074978.60854.213925465332182&type=1&theater

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