Rotted Peach Seeds
My peaches look and taste great but almost all of my peaches seem to have bad seeds. They break apart and look rotted but the meat around the seed looks great. Is that normal or is something going on I need to know about, and are they safe to eat?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Split pit and bitter pit are two problems fruit growers experience at this time each year. Backyard gardeners typically have more problems than commercial fruit growers, but they also lose a portion of their crop to these conditions.
Split pit is a condition where the two halves of the peach pit split during the development of the fruit. In some cases, the pit splits into even more pieces resulting in what is known as shattered pit. Broken pieces of pit sometimes get stuck between your teeth if they are small enough. In most cases, however, they simply make eating a peach more difficult.
If you are canning peaches, or making peach salsa or another gourmet dish, fruit with split or shattered pits make preparation more difficult.
Split pit peaches have a shorter shelf life. The peach may split along the suture, opening the skin up to earwigs and other critters. Fruit rot diseases are also more common on these fruit. Sometimes you will find a seed that has germinated within the split pit peach.
Split pit is a disorder that can affect up to 50 percent of the peaches harvested each year. High nitrogen fertilization, improper irrigation scheduling, and the number of fruit on the tree all influence the amount of split pit that occurs. Peach trees planted in the lawn where they receive more fertilizer and water have more fruit with split pit. Peach trees not pruned properly also experience this problem more frequently.
Bitter pit is a problem with apples that appear after harvest. Sunken discolored pits appear on the surface of the fruit. Under each pit is a rubbery brown spot. These spots can be cut out of the fruit but as with split pit peaches, preparing these fruit for a pie or other uses takes longer. Most people cut these spots out of an apple before they take a bite. Other people feel these fruits are diseased and won't eat them. They are sometimes quite ugly. Like split pit, this malady is not caused by a disease or insect, but environmental and cultural practices.
Young trees just coming into bearing are the most susceptible as is fruit harvested at an immature stage. Bitter pit also is more of a problem with more vigorous trees like those in a lawn where they receive too much water and fertilizer. Fruit on upright vigorous growing branches have a greater potential to develop bitter pit than fruit that develops on horizontal branches near the tree's main trunk.