Peaches splitting at the stem??!! (pics)

trfanaticJuly 18, 2009

Hello all,

I was picking some of the peaches on my tree that have fungus (I think that's what it is, there was alot of rain at one time) and noticed also that where the stem was, there was a huge gap and an earwig crawled out of one of them?? Of the three I picked, all had that gap.

Has anyone experienced anything like this before? I hope the pics are clear.



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alan haigh

Split pits are a common problem of early peaches- what is the variety?

Such peaches are more prone to brown rot, the fungus that your peaches are rotting from. On a wet season stone fruit can be tough if you don't apply the right fungicide.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 8:50PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

One thing that exacerbates split pit is over-fertilizing and over-thinning. Although Harvestman is right, it's mostly cultivar dependent, with the earlier ripening cultivars more prone to it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 9:05PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, hmmm, overfertilizing and over thinning? I'd like to know the basis of this statement so I can determine whether it's a piece of information I should store in my faulty and limited flesh computor. Is this research based or anecdotal?

Of course I've never seen an "overthinned" peach tree, is this actually possible to do? Kidding aside, my occassional light setting (never overthinned) peaches have never shown a tendency towards split pits but most early (anything more than about a week earlier than Red Haven) do tend to get them. Have you ever seen split pits on a late free-stone peach?

Calling Geraldo here!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 6:30AM
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Hman: my Reliance tree was overthinned to the hilt due to a fungal problem, there are now about 40 fruit remaining on a 4th leaf tree. At least I learned what causes it and how to avoid it in subsequent years. I'll try to remember to keep an eye out for the stem end issue.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 3:37PM
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alan haigh

I got burned a bit with fungus already this year- I never spray my Methely with fungicide but this year I should have. I'm having to pick off immature rotting fruit to partially save a harvest. At least I sprayed all my clients trees. We had almost the wettest June on record and I bet it was a record for most wet days. Now we are experiencing the longest stretch of truly beautiful weather I've ever seen here.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 5:13PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Same weather here -- lately its been marvelous. Its 10+F cooler than normal this time of year, ahh! I experimented with Serenade for disease control this wet spring, used it as a standard in most of my sprays, and the brown rot is at bay thus far -- only pecked or wormy fruits are getting it. Serenade is very weak but if you use it frequently it is looking promising. One thing I like about it is the wide range of diseases it tackles, from fireblight to brown rot to CAR. Maybe if it starts raining a lot I will hack to revise my opinion and get out something stronger, we'll see.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 8:43PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


The comment about over-fertilizing and over-thinning exacerbating split-pits comes from a couple different sources. First I've read it in commercial literature. Keep in mind this advice is only for problem cultivars. Some cultivars could be thinned to one peach per tree and probably still wouldn't split. I've had two varieties completely done with harvest this year (PF1 and PF7A). Due to frosts we had earlier this spring, both trees were ridiculously thin for the amount of foliage, yet not one split-pit. I didn't put any fertilizer on, since I mulch and get good fruit size and shoot growth anyway. But I'm of the opinion it would be hard to get split pits, no matter what, on these to varieties. I've read Paul Friday claim PF1 rarely splits.

Secondly, a commercial grower I talk to occasionally, told me split pits are caused by the rapid expansion of the fruit pulling away from the seed. If this is true, it would follow, if one can slow the fruit growth of problem cultivars, it would reduce the percentage of split pits.

I was on four orchards today with the Kansas Fruit Growers Assoc. summer fruit tour. That same commercial grower was talking about split pits and reiterated the extremely rapid fruit expansion of some early ripening cultivars was the cause.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:45PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I decided to Google split-pit. The following link from Oregon State indicates anything that will enhance fruit size (Nitrogen, thinning, irrigation, girdling) usually increased the level of split-pits.

Here is a link that might be useful: Split Pits - OSU

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:59PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, thanks. This is the stuff that makes the internet worthwhile. Split pits may be a partial tool for diagnosing excess N when occuring in cultivars not normally susceptible (though I guess you should be able to tell by excess growth). I was still hoping Geraldo would chime in- I haven't heard from him for awhile and he's usually good for an independent opinion about peach growing and anything else on his mind.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 5:12AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Yea, I miss Geraldo's insights as well. He's probably busy with his orchard this time of year. Hopefully after the season's over, he'll be back.

This discussion on split-pits has triggered something else in my memory. You queried if there was a late free-stone peach that splits. A couple years ago the commercial grower I talk with told me not to plant PF24-007. Said about every one was a split-pit. Evidently it's huge size and rapid growth causes the peach to tear apart during fruit swell. This is the same variety that Paul Friday holds the world record for the largest peach. It may not be a problem for home orchards where trees aren't invigorated, but evidently under commercial conditions; on drip, with plenty of N, and lots of thinning, this peach is a no go.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 10:05AM
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I get quite a bit of this split pit on my "Avalon Pride" peach tree, which is ripening up right now. I get none of that on my "Oregon Curl Free" peach tree which is nowhere near ripe yet. It is annoying that earwigs love to hang out in there, but the peaches are generally quite usable anyway. I had only a few with brown rot, which seems totally unrelated to the split pit.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 11:46AM
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Thank you all so much for your input. The tree is "Harrow Diamond", I'm pretty sure it is 5 years old and I have NEVER seen even one peach look like this. The ripen date on the label is July 29th. I did not spray the tree at all this year (3 sons to keep my REALLY busy). I did however, use a new brand of fruit tree spike (not the usual Miracle Grow) -- could this have been it? Would a fungicide spray have prevented the Brown rot issue??

I appreciate your assistance,


    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 9:51AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Hman can comment on Harrow Diamond and how prone it is to split-pit, he grows it. You must be far north for Harrow Diamond to ripen July 29th. It ripens 3 weeks before Redhaven, which is ripening now here.

Don't waste your money on tree spikes. They are ridiculously priced for the amount of fertilizer purchased. If you feel you need to fertilize, a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer should suffice. Nitrogen can be applied in several forms, stable manure, lawn clippings, granulated form.

Peaches that have any entry hole to the flesh (hail damage, bug damage, split-pit, etc.) are more likely to rot, but a good fungicide can help even when the skin is penetrated. Captan and Monterey Fungal Fighter, are two fungicides readily available and effective against brown rot.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 11:45AM
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alan haigh

tree spikes are a waste of money and it is possible that new type has more N than previous but I put my money on weather conditions. Harrow Diamond is a very early peach that sizes up quickly and is therefore susceptible.

A broadcast fertilizer with similar ingredients is actually slightly more affective in moist soil than the stakes. You may want to reconsider how much N your trees need anyway.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 11:50AM
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alan haigh

Yeah, I do grow Harrow Diamond as my earliest peach and it only started ripening last weekend here- latest date ever. There was very little sun in June here in southeastern NY.

I have harvested it as early as July 4. It's very nice for an early peach but is a very poor grower in that it doesn't like to put out new wood in center of tree making it hard to maintain as a productive compact tree. I'm experimenting with some new earlys and will share my experience in a couple years.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:20AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

[my apologies for hijacking this slightly]

Hi Harvestman-
How late would you say your Harrow Diamond peach was this year as compared to an average year? 7 days late? 14 days late? I'm trying to determine how late my apples are so I'll know when to harvest my few William's Pride apples. They have a very narrow harvest window, and since they're way earlier than any of our local orchards' apples, I can't simply ask them how far behind we are. I'm hoping peaches would give me some idea. Thanks, -Glenn

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:31AM
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lauriedutch(5 / CO)


How did you get your photos to display here in your first message? (I see they are gone now, but they displayed for several days). I've put some photos in PhotoBucket and would like to post them in a message. I see the Optional Link URL box, but some people post multiple photos in one message. I'd like to know how to do that if you or anyone else knows how. (I tried the FAQ but the instructions there didn't work for me.)


    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 8:06PM
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The peaches are just about ripe right now, so early this year.
Laurie there are four (or five) boxes below the pic on Photobucket. One of the last two works (sorry can't remember right now) just right click and copy then paste to gardenweb. Sorry I am not too computer literate.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 8:50PM
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jim123(z9 or z10 CA)

One of the biggest contributors to fruit split in peaches (and most other fruit including cherries and oranges) is uneven watering. The recent rains mentioned on the original post are the likely culprit. Other conditions mentioned contribute as well, but uneven watering is the biggest issue. When a fruit tree has fruit that is mostly developed and there is a sudden increase in water, the internal fruit growth is faster than the skin and the fruit splits at the weakest point.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 7:09AM
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alan haigh

My HD's are probably about a week later than average. I have found that you can't predictably calculate a general curve of ripening based on what one or even several varieties are doing. Conditions seem to affect different varieties and species in different ways. When I said I attributed the lateness to lack of sun it was only a guess. It may also be due to a late spring. It is said that the most reliable calculation is made from date of flowering. All of this is not my forte because I don't do much record keeping.

I do not find uneven watering to promote split pits in the northeast at all, speaking from a lot of anecdotal experience. Most of the sites I manage depend entirely on rainfall so uneven watering is the norm. I have only observed split pits in the last 20 years on very early ripening peaches although fertilization and watering regimens have been all over the map due to factors out of my control.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:52AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Thanks Harvestman. Unfortunately, I don't have any flowering records from previous years for this WP, because this was the first time it flowered. But, I'm keeping good records for future years. A week late was going to be my gut-feeling guesstimate anyway. Time will tell. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:56AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


Uneven watering does cause fruit split in some tree fruits and tomatoes. It's as you describe, after a heavy rain, the flesh inside swells with moisture and bursts the skin. However, peach split pit is a different phenomena caused by the rapid growth of the peach. Moisture may play a role, but only insofar as it may increase the growth rate of the fruit.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:57AM
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I'm another one who buys the inconsistant watering at critical time frames as a contributor to splitting.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:51PM
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