Hope of Spring: Bare Root Peach Trees

The sadness of the loss of one of my apple trees has been soothed a bit by the addition of 2 bare root semi-dwarf, self-fertile peach trees: Desert Gold and July (Kim) Elberta. I planted these earlier this afternoon. About 4 years ago, I removed 2 quince trees (which began life as pear trees) since the fruit was attacked by plum curculio beetles (https://janedata.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/quince-fruit-culprit-drilling-tiny-holes-identified/), rendering the fruit inedible and increasing the risk for brown rot. This same beetle has been known to attack peach trees also, but enough time has passed and I’d like to give these trees a chance and see if peaches might survive and thrive in my food garden.

In the end, it’s always a bit of a gamble to see which plants survive in a garden. The premise of “grow what you actually enjoy eating” still rings true for me and I see no point in growing thriving fruits and vegetables in my private food garden that I don’t actually enjoy eating. Among other reasons, I like knowing that I grow the food that eat. The distance from “farm to fork” is shorter!

Quince Fruit: Culprit Drilling Tiny Holes Identified

Last year, I was quite saddened and frustrated at having lost almost every fruit of my quince trees to brown rot, a common fungus that attacks stone fruits. However, it did not occur to me that more than a fungus was at play here. Today, after pruning unwanted growth from my 3-in-1 pear trees (which now almost exclusively produces quince), I discovered the telltale signs of insect involvement. I found a brown, crescent-shaped scar on the outside of one of the immature fruit and several others with tiny pinholes drilled into them.IMG_3063

After doing an Internet search, I found that the culprit is the plum curculio (AKA Conotrachelus nenuphar). This tiny weevil or snout beetle drills holes into the fruit (also apples, nectarines, pears, peaches, and plums), lays eggs, which turn to larvae. The larvae burrow toward the center of the fruit and leave nasty dark brown trails as evidence of their feeding. When the larvae are ready to enter the world, they exit the rotten fruit through the same hole that their mother made. The tiny holes drilled into the fruit make the fruit more susceptible to diseases like brown rot.

At least in my garden, I now know that these two culprits are working as partners in destroying my fruit. Several of the immature fruits look intact but I will be checking on them weekly, if not more often. Knowing the vulnerabilities in my garden will help me to be a better gardener and maybe enjoy some quince this year. I loathe the thought of cutting down my two trees, especially since they are still quite young, but I may if their problems spread to my apple trees.

An excellent series of photos of these brown trails and drill holes can be found here: http://www.thekitchn.com/quince-report-good-news-and-ba-65559

More information on the plum curculio beetle can be found here:http://entoweb.okstate.edu/ddd/insects/plumcurculio.htm

How To: Treatment of plum curculio for the home gardener is to just remove fallen fruit but I just would rather not give the larvae a chance to hit ground and have a chance to reproduce so I cut the fruit off the tree when I spot beetle damage and throw it away in the covered green-waste bin several yards away from the trees. More information on treatment can be found here: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef202.asp

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

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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