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Bull’s Eye Rot

Bull’s eye rot occurs on both apples and pears in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. In Washington State, Bull’s eye rot is more commonly seen on Golden Delicious, particularly on apples from orchards with perennial canker problems on trees. Bull’s eye rot also occurs in Europe and some other fruit-growing regions.

Casual Organism

Four species of Neofabraea are known to cause Bull’s eye rot on apples. Three species, N. albaN. perennans, and a Neofabraea sp., have been reported to cause Bull’s eye rot on pears in the Pacific Northwest.


Bull’s eye rot lesion is circular, flat to slightly sunken and appears light brown to dark brown with a lighter brown to tan center. Decayed tissue is firm. Cream-colored spore masses in the aged decayed area may appear (Fig. 6). Bull’s eye rot commonly originates from infection at lenticels on the fruit skin, but stem-end Bull’s eye rot is also commonly seen on Golden Delicious and Gala apples, particularly on the fruit from orchards with over-tree evaporative cooling or irrigation. Calyx-end Bull’s eye rot has also been observed on Golden Delicious fruit.

Figure 1. Symptoms and signs of Bull’s eye rot (Neofabraea spp.) on apples and pears.


N. perennans causes perennial canker on apple trees. On pear trees, Neofabraea spp. may survive on the dead bark. It has been reported that the Bull’s eye rot fungus may infect fruit anytime between petal fall and harvest but remains latent. Symptoms of Bull’s eye rot may appear after only a few months in storage. Fruit become more susceptible to infection by the fungus as the growing season approaches harvest. This disease is more common on fruit from orchards with over-tree irrigation or evaporative cooling, or in years or areas with frequent rains near or during harvest.

Cultural Controls

  • In apple orchards with perennial canker, removal of branches with cankers helps reduce inoculum of Neofabraea spp. in the orchard.
  • Establish new plantings with clean stock free of visible cankers.
  • Scout new orchards for the disease, because early detection will aid in overall control.
  • Water spread the fungal inoculum and create conditions conducive for fruit infection. It is recommended that overhead irrigation be avoided and that over-tree cooling be cycled such that conditions do not remain wet in the canopy for prolonged periods of time.

Chemical Controls

Ziram applied within two weeks before harvest is recommended for control of Bull’s eye rot in the Pacific Northwest.

Materials available for apple

Excerpt from the WSU Crop Protection Guide. For timings at which each pesticide can be used refer to the Crop Protection Guide.


Materials available for pear

Excerpt from the WSU Crop Protection Guide. For timings at which each pesticide can be used refer to the Crop Protection Guide.

Use pesticides with care. Apply them only to plants, animals, or sites listed on the labels. When mixing and applying pesticides, follow all label precautions to protect yourself and others around you. It is a violation of the law to disregard label directions. If pesticides are spilled on skin or clothing, remove clothing and wash skin thoroughly. Store pesticides in their original containers and keep them out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock.

YOU ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO FOLLOW THE LABEL. It is a legal document. Always read the label before using any pesticide. You, the grower, are responsible for safe pesticide use. Trade (brand) names are provided for your reference only. No discrimination is intended, and other pesticides with the same active ingredient may be suitable. No endorsement is implied.


De Jong, S. N., Levesque, C. A., Verkley, G. J. M., Abeln, E. C. A., Rahe, J. E., and Braun, P. G. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships among Neofabraea species causing tree cankers and bull’s eye rot of apple based on DNA sequencing of ITS nuclear rDNA, mitochondrial rDNA, and the β-tublin gene. Mycological Research 105:658-669.

Henriquez, J. L., Sugar, D., and Spotts, R. A. 2004. Etiology of bull’s eye rot of pear caused by Neofabraea spp. in Oregon, Washington, and California. Plant Disease 88:1134-1138.


Ashour_AmiriDr. Achour Amiri,
Postharvest Pathology
Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center
Wenatchee, WA


Washington State University