Even your apples are not immune to damage from the sun.

Even your apples are not immune to damage from the sun.

Duchess of Dirt: Protect your apples from sunscald

Leslie Cox

Special to The Record

Think humans are the only prey to maladies in sunny, hot weather? Think again. The plants in our garden can suffer.

Case in point: one of our Gravenstein apples developed sunburn.

When talking about fruits, sunburn is more commonly called sunscald (or sun scald).

Sunscald is not to be confused with “apple scald.” This is a different type of disease in apples which develops during storage. Caused by damage to the fruit cells, it never shows up on the tree, but rather, after apples are picked and stored for a while. It is all in how they are handled during the harvest so be gentle!

Sunscald on the other hand, is caused by stress from high temperatures, excessive sun exposure, and inadequate water. Chances of sunscald occurrence are higher when the weather turns hot after a period of cool, cloudy days.

Sure signs of too much sun shows up on the skin of the apple – appearing as white, tan, or yellow patches on the exposed side of the fruit.

I picked the affected apple on our espalier tree but I could have left it on the tree to ripen a little further. Rigging a sunshade to keep the sun off the apples during the hottest part of the day would have helped. After all, as night follows day, the rain is sure to come eventually which will cover the sun and lower the temperatures.

And fall is just around the corner. Shudder. I am not ready for the end of this growing season yet. But the garden has been about three weeks ahead of schedule this year and looking like fall chores should soon be underway.

Namely, there are some plants to go into the ground. New acquisitions bought as the hot weather was coming on. I find it easier to have pots grouped for ease of watering rather than new plants scattered throughout the landscape, requiring the lugging of hoses to keep them hydrated.

There are also some perennials which need dividing, summer-flowering shrubs to be pruned, seeds to be collected, and tender plants to be treated for pests prior to bringing them indoors.

For more fall chores, and a list of some colourful spring bulbs to be planted soon, check my website: duchessofdirt.ca.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in The Record.