Mucor rot occurs on both apples and pears. Although it can cause significant losses of fruit, Mucor rot is generally not a major problem, particularly when good harvest management and water-sanitation practices at packing are implemented.
Mucor rot is caused primarily by Mucor piriformis E. Fischer.
Mucor rot originates primarily from infection of wounds on the skin of fruit. Stem-end Mucor rot is also seen on d’Anjou pears (Fig. 1). The decayed area appears light brown to brown with a sharp margin. The decayed tissue is very soft and juicy and can be readily separated from the healthy tissue. Gray mycelium with dark sporangia may appear on the decayed area. Mucor rot fruit has a sweet odor. Without the signs of the pathogen present on decayed fruit, Mucor rot can be mistaken as blue mold, particularly in the early stage of symptom development (see the comparison in Table 1).
Figure 1. Symptoms and signs of Mucor rot (Mucor piriformis) on apples and pears.
Table 1. Comparison between Mucor rot and blue mold.
very soft, juicy
Color of decayed area
light brown to brown
light tan to dark brown
Signs of pathogen
gray mycelium with dark sporangia
white mycelium, blue or blue-green spore masses
Color of internal flesh
light brown to brown
Mucor piriformis is a soilborne pathogen and survives in the orchard soil. The pathogen enters packing facilities through infested soils or organic debris adhering to field bins. Drench solutions and dump-tank water are the primary source of inoculum for fruit infection at drenching and packing. Mucor piriformis may infect the stem, calyx or wounds on the skin of fruit.
Orchard sanitation to remove fallen fruit on the orchard floor helps reduce inoculum levels in the soil. Good harvest management is important for control of Mucor rot. Field bins should be positioned on the orchard floor to minimize contamination of the undersides of bins by infested soil or organic debris. Fruit that fall to the ground during harvest can be contaminated by infested soil and should not be put back in fruit bins.
Michailides, T. J., and Spotts, R. A. 1990. Postharvest diseases of pome and stone fruits caused by Mucor piriformis in the Pacific Northwest and California. Plant Dis. 74:537-543.
Spotts, R. A. 1990. Mucor rot. Pages 57-58 in: Compendium of Apple and Pear Diseases. A. L. Jones and H. S. Aldwinckle (ed.). American Phytopathological Society Press, St. Paul, MN.
Dr. Achour Amiri,
Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center
Wenatchee, WA firstname.lastname@example.org