Why Do Strawberries Rot So Fast
6 Tips for Keeping Berries Fresh Who doesn’t love fresh berries? Except when those berries start growing fuzz within 24 hours of bringing them home. Why do berries go bad so fast? It comes down to moisture and mold. Berries tend to be quite porous, water-rich and delicately skinned, meaning they soak up excess moisture in their environment very easily.

Why do strawberries eventually rot?

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Although it’s common to find strawberries in the garden that have turned brown, soft or fuzzy with gray mold, proper watering and yearly renovation can help stem the problem. Strawberries can suffer from a disease called gray mold, also known as Botrytis fruit rot.

The berries start showing symptoms when they flower. The petals and flowering stems turn brown and the entire blossom may die. On the strawberry fruit, symptoms may occur on any portion and frequently develop at the stem. The tissue turns light to medium brown. Lesions in younger, green or white fruit develop slowly.

The fruit may be misshapen as it enlarges. Fruit rot expands rapidly near harvest time, when the berries are turning red. In advanced stages, the fungus produces a gray mold over the fruit surface. Sometimes, rot may not develop until after the fruit is picked.

To keep gray mold in check or at least prevent it from getting worse, Oregon State University Extension plant pathologist Jay Pscheidt and berry specialist Bernadine Strik offer several strategies. Space plants so they dry rapidly after rain and irrigation. Don’t water from above. Drip irrigation is best.

During the growing season, strawberry plants need about one inch of water a week. On sites with sandy soils or during very hot weather, plants may need more water. Wet the soil to a depth of six to eight inches with each irrigation. Avoid applying so much water that the soil remains saturated for long periods.

  1. Standing water is harmful, even for a day or two.
  2. Pick your berries every few days, especially during wet and warmer periods.
  3. Refrigerate ripe berries as soon as possible after harvest while removing and composting diseased ones.
  4. Fertilize established strawberries in late summer to keep them vigorous and best able to withstand disease and to promote fall growth.

Spring fertilization results in excessive leaf growth and runner formation and doesn’t promote more or larger berries. After harvest season, apply two to three pounds of 10-10-10 (or equivalent well-balanced fertilizer) per 100 square feet of row. Foliage should be dry when you apply the fertilizer.

You can maintain June-bearing strawberry plants for several fruiting seasons if you manage and renovate them after harvest. In Oregon, to avoid spreading gray mold to next year’s June-bearing strawberries, renovate a June-bearing strawberry patch two to four weeks after the last harvest. Ever-bearing plants don’t need to be renovated.

To renovate and stimulate next year’s growth in June-bearers, remove the old leaves with a hedge clipper or mower after fruiting, being careful not to damage the crown. Do not remove old leaves on day-neutrals or ever bearers. At the end of the season, remove all plantings that are no longer productive or lack vigor. Want to learn more about this topic? Explore more resources from OSU Extension: Berries and fruit, Plant diseases

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Do strawberries go bad fast?

How Long Do Strawberries Last? – Strawberries are very perishable and don’t last long after being picked. Generally, strawberries will stay fresh for 1-3 days when stored in the refrigerator. It’s important to store them properly in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag so they don’t dry out or get too mushy. How Long Do Strawberries Last?

Can you eat rotting strawberries?

Is it OK to eat moldy strawberries? – If you find white fluffy stuff on your berries that looks a bit like cotton candy, that is mold. Mold is a fungus with spores that feed on the berries and grow thin threads that can look like fluff or cotton. This particular type of mold is common among fruits and is known as Botrytis fruit rot or gray mold,

  • While moldy strawberries are unlikely to harm you, they can make you sick if you are allergic to molds in general, according to the USDA,
  • And since berries are a soft-fleshed food, unlike apples or pears, it is not safe to simply cut away the moldy part, since the spores have likely gone into the flesh of the berry.

If a berry is bruised, but does not show any signs of mold, the bruised part can be trimmed away. A moldy strawberry should be thrown out. If you happen to accidentally eat a moldy strawberry, you’ll know it because, usually, moldy strawberries will have an off flavor that is a bit sour and acidic and may remind you of blue cheese.

The off taste is nature’s red flag that your red berries are bad, if you missed the visual mold. A small amount of this mold is unlikely to make you sick. If you ate a larger amount, you might have some signs of gastric distress similar to mild food poisoning, but it should resolve on its own, and is not toxic or especially dangerous, just uncomfortable.

Getty Images / Rok Stritof / EyeEm

What causes fruit to rot quickly?

Ripe Fruit Rot caused by Monilinia or Botrytis results in firm, circular spots that spread rapidly over fruit. Monilinia causes dark brown lesions on fruit that eventually turn black from the development of pseudosclerotia (fungal tissue), whereas Botrytis causes light tan to grayish lesions with gray spores.

  1. Spore masses may grow on the rotted areas.
  2. Fruit becomes more susceptible as it ripens.
  3. Botrytis -diseased fruit usually do not remain on the tree until next season, but they are present as inoculum sources for the current season’s crop.
  4. When Monilinia -diseased fruit remain on the tree, they are known as mummies.

Rhizopus rot is a postharvest storage problem. The decaying fruit tissue is watery and soft; the fungus is identified by masses of white mycelium with tiny black sporangia that form most abundantly on fruit near the edge of containers. Monilinia and Botrytis can infect uninjured ripening fruit and cause green fruit rot and incipient infections of young fruit.

  • Wetness, either rain or dew, and injury or fruit cracking increases preharvest infection and subsequent rot.
  • Rhizopus spp.
  • Invades only ripe fruit that have been injured and the decay is a postharvest concern only.
  • Fruit rot is managed by controlling blossom and twig blight in spring, removing blighted twigs when possible, using appropriate levels of nitrogen fertilizer and water, removing or turning under thinned fruit, controlling fruit-feeding insects such as peach twig borer and oriental fruit moth, and making preharvest treatments when necessary.
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Early maturing cultivars typically have little trouble with ripe fruit rot. Examine fruit on trees every other week after color break (see ) to detect any developing problems in the orchard and take a fruit damage sample at harvest to assess the effectiveness of the current year’s IPM program and to determine the needs of next year’s program (see ).

Record results for the sample. Treatments of sulfur dust are acceptable for use in an organically certified crop. Fungicides are preventive, not eradicative; they must be applied to uninjured fruit before infections occur. Injured fruit cannot be protected from Monilinia or Botrytis rot by preharvest sprays.

Preharvest sprays for Monilinia should be applied as needed during the last 4 weeks before harvest. Where Rhizopus fruit rot is a problem, treat 10 days to 1 day before harvest. After harvest, Rhizopus can be controlled by storing the crop at temperatures below 40°F.

Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
(Example trade name) (hours) (days)
Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least likely to cause resistance are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to the pesticide’s and,, and, Always read the label of the product being used.
(Adamant 50WG) 4–8 oz 5 days 1
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Demethylation inhibitor (3) and Quinone outside inhibitor (11)
(Bumper, Tilt) 4 fl oz 12
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
COMMENTS: Maximum of 2 preharvest sprays.
(Elite 45WP) 4–8 oz 120 (5 days)
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 3 lb/acre per season.
(Indar 2F) 6 fl oz 12
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 1 lb/acre per season.
(Topsin-M 70WP) 1 ½ lb 12 1
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Methyl benzimidazole (1)
COMMENTS: One application only per season and always apply with a companion fungicide with a different mode of action group number. Strains of brown rot resistant to thiophanate methyl have been found in California. If resistance has occurred in your orchard, do not use this fungicide.
(Quash) 2.5–4 oz 12 14
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
COMMENTS: Do not make more than 3 applications per season.
(Pristine) 10.5–14.5 oz 12
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Quinone outside inhibitor (11) and Carboxamide (7)
(Elevate 50WDG) 1–1.5 lb 12
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Hydroxyanilide (17)
COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 6 lb/acre per season and avoid making more than 2 consecutive applications of this material.
(Rally 40WSP) 2.5–6 oz 24
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
(Captan 50WP) 4–8 lb 24
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Multi-site contact (M4)
COMMENTS: Do not apply in combination with, immediately before, or closely following oil sprays.
K. SULFUR DUST# 50 lb See label See label
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Multi-site contact (M2)
COMMENTS: Do not apply within 3 weeks of an oil application.
(Scholar) 8–16 oz/100 gal water NA NA
MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER 1 ): Phenylpyrrole (12)
COMMENTS: Treats 200,000 lb fruit using a spray-application system.


‡ Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest. # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce. 1 Group numbers are assigned by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) according to different modes of actions (for more information, see http://www.frac.info/). Fungicides with a different group number are suitable to alternate in a resistance management program. In California, make no more than one application of fungicides with mode of action Group numbers 1,4,9,11, or 17 before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode of action Group number; for fungicides with other Group numbers, make no more than two consecutive applications before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode of action Group number. NA Not applicable.


UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Peach UC ANR Publication 3454, Plant Pathology, UC Riverside, UC Cooperative Extension Stanislaus County (emeritus), UC Cooperative Extension Sutter and Yuba Counties (emeritus), UC Cooperative Extension Tulare County

What is the lifespan of Strawberry?

Do strawberries come back every year? – Yes, strawberry plants are perennial so will come back every year. The average strawberry plant has a lifespan of about six years, though after the first two their will be a notable drop in the amount of fruit produced.

  1. Some gardeners therefore prefer to treat their strawberry plants as annuals, growing a new stock each year.
  2. Taking runners from your established plant will ensure that you always have a young crop producing its best fruit.
  3. Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens’ sister title.

Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look.

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