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Master Gardener: How to prevent brown spots on apples

By in Press Enterprise on November 1, 2017

By Ottillia "Toots" Bier

Q. We’ve started to harvest apples in our garden, but notice that there are brown areas under the peel on some of the apples. Do you know why this is happening?

A. I’ve received similar questions before and I have to admit that I’ve occasionally seen this problem on apples from my Granny Smith apple tree too. I believe that what we are seeing is a condition commonly called bitter pit. It is a physiological disorder and develops when an apple tree experiences a calcium deficiency in early spring. You should be able to prevent the condition next year if you remember to make two applications of a calcium nitrate solution to your tree’s leaves next spring.

Make the first application just after the bloom period and the second one from one to two months later. Mix the solution at the rate of one tablespoon of calcium nitrate to one gallon of water. Calcium nitrate may not be readily available at local home improvement stores, but well-stocked nurseries, as well as farm supply and fertilizer stores, will have it. Be sure to mix the solution accurately, time the spray properly, and spray the leaves of your apple tree thoroughly to ensure success.

As you may have discovered, the apples still taste fine, despite the condition’s name. You may hesitate to put one in the lunch box, but after trimming off the tan area, the apples make a very nice pie!

Q. Against my better judgement, we got two pet rabbits. It’s fallen to me to clean up after them and I’m wondering if I can use their manure in my garden. Would it be a good fertilizer for my garden?

A. Rabbit manure can be a very useful fertilizer. A […]    

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