Fungus causes some problems with apples

Fieldstone Farms, near Overbrook in Osage County, lost its entire apple crop to a fungus this year.

“We got a fungus called bitter rot that rots the apples on the trees,” says Fieldstone owner Nancy Krause. “It was because of the high heat and high humidity.”

The fruit trees themselves are fine, but the fruit was devastated, she says. After she sells her crop of Asian pears, she says, she will begin cleaning up the trees and the farm.

Fieldstone Farms has been a fixture for people coming to pick their own apples and other fruits in the fall. Once the Asian pears are sold, the orchard will be closed until next year.

Kansas State Extension Office horticulturist Jennifer Smith says a wet spring can prime the trees for problems later in the summer.

“A lot of times fungi infect the twigs and fruit in the spring when the flowers are forming,” Smith says. “The combination of a wet spring and heat and humidity in the summer make the perfect environment for fungi.”

There are three types of rot common for local apples: black rot, white rot and bitter rot.

Smith says it is important to find apple varieties that are resistant not only to rot, but also to apple scab and the various types of apple rust. Even with that, though, how and when the apples ripen depends on Mother Nature.

“We’ll try again next year,” Krause says.

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