Quince Stricken by Brown Rot

Such sad news when a crop is wiped out. My 3-in-1 pear trees, this year, has been producing primarily quince fruits. The two trees have been stricken with brown rot, destroying the fruit. In the beginning, the fruits were growing seemingly normally. But then, small brown spots started to appear and take over the fruit.

During these past warm weeks, I have slept with the window open. I kept getting startled by the thuds of quince fruits dropping from the tree, one by one. Quite a gardening nightmare! When I would inspect the results the following morning, the ground was littered with quince, some still green with no visible brown spots, and others with large brown spots. With over 100 fruits between them, I think I’ve enjoyed just a handful of normal fruits – the rest have been wasted by brown rot.

By the way, it is a rather shocking event to cut into what looks to be a normal, unaffected quince and find that it has, in fact, been ravaged by brown rot. The photo on the right is what a clear case of brown-rotted fruit looks like from their exterior – an awful mess.

Update 10/26/2013: In my case, if the brown rot has just started infecting the fruit, it may not be obvious if you quickly pick the fruit.  The browning may be quite pale in color at that stage. Furthermore, as I later discovered, brown rot is a likely outcome if your quince are attacked by the snout beetle known as plum curculio. These beetles drill holes in your quince. The larvae eat through the fruit, making brown rot infection likely.

The following website provides excellent photos of what a quince, affected by plum curculio,  looks like from the inside out, and is exactly what I have seen with my own eyes: http://www.thekitchn.com/quince-report-good-news-and-ba-65559

Your quince fruit  is doomed and should be discarded if they look anything like what is in my photo, and/or if they are covered in tiny holes.

Cause of Brown Rot: Brown rot is caused by a fungus, Monilinia fructicola, and attacks not just quince and related apples and pears, but also stone fruits. I’ve not seen leaf damage, however.  I will have to find a suitable fungicide to treat my trees and hope that the next year brings happier, healthier news for these poor trees.

Update 10/26/2013: Treatment of brown rot depends on whether or not your tree is fruiting. If your tree is fruiting, physically removing brown-rotted fruit from the tree and pruning affected branches is recommended, being sure that this discarded vegetation is kept far away from the “treated” tree to prevent reinfection.

If your tree is not fruiting, remove blighted blossoms (which will be brown instead of white/pink), branches, and twigs (which may have cankers). You may spray the leaves (upper and undersides) and branches of your entire tree with a commercially available fungicide. Please note that these fungicides have different degrees of toxicity, so may injure your health (poisonous) if ingested. For that reason, do not spray fungicide on fruit or a fruiting tree.

More information on how brown rot affects  quince, apple, and pear trees can be found here: http://postharvest.tfrec.wsu.edu/marketdiseases/brownrot.html

Information on diseases of various fruit trees can be found on this helpful website, including information on disease control/treatment: http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/pest/pcerti17.pdf

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  The quince is related to apples and pears, whose seeds are highly toxic if ingested.  For this reason, do not ingest the seeds of these fruits.

More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

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