There’s nothing worse than watching your thriving pawpaw trees grow and produce heavy crops of perfectly rounded fruit, only to see the fruit rotting away to useless mush as they ripen. I know, I’ve been there many times and it pains me to the core.
So what’s the cause and how can you stop it?
Fruit rots in pawpaws are caused by a fungus. It can infect the fruit when it is still green. Don’t confuse it with the tiny black spots you often see; these are fungal too, but generally cause no damage to the quality of the fruit. You won’t notice the fruit rotting fungi while the fruit are green. They don’t kick into action until the fruit starts to ripen, and then you really know about them, because those sunken lesions seem to appear overnight and rapidly grow as ripening progresses. When the fruit is fully ripe and ready to eat there is little edible flesh left to save.
There is a simple solution, ladies and gentlemen. I only learned about it recently while doing some research, and it’s simpler than you would think. All you need to do is submerge the fruit in warm water at 45°C for 20 minutes. I have tried it and it works. The heat kills the fungal spores and stops the lesions in their tracks. After a 20 minute soak, I remove the fruit and leave it on the kitchen bench to continue ripening. Many of the lesions, which would normally grow at an alarming rate simply shrink and came away from the rest of the fruit. What a revelation!
Try it yourself and let us all know about your experiences on the Organic Gardener facebook page.
Photo: Phil Dudman
First published: June 2013