Apple nutrient deficiency problem?

I can’t find my previous thread about this. I posted pictures the last time but no one could figure it out.

This problem occurred in the flesh of Gold Rush more than other varieties.

It could be the soil the tree is in, the subsoil is mostly yellow clay.
The closet thing I could find was that it looked like phosphorus deficiency.

I am going to send soil in for a soil test. At this time, any of you would like to take an educated guess?

@scottfsmith , @alan , et al,
have you encounter something like this? Of 100 of Gold Rush last year, more than 50% have had this issue.

What is the texture/taste of the discolored area?

Have you read this?

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Are the apples hanging for longer than they should?

Interesting article but many aspects do not match. Late apples, yes. Large - no, over mature-no. I also did not treat it with CO2 (except if it happened naturally when I put them in a bucket wit lid on.

Moreover, it happened right off the trees. From outside, I could not tell. Once, I cut it open, it problem was obvious. In storage, those with wrnkly skin had that issue. Firm skin, no issue. This was after 5 months in storage.

Here’s what I read about phosphorus deficiency. I could be wrong.

If some apples have this issue and some don’t, could it be an insect or disease affecting those specific apples? I would make a guess that phosphorous and other nutrient deficiency affects entire tree more uniformly.

In below link, the claim was apple looks perfect on outside but has brown and tunneling spots in inside. The expert guessed it may be apple maggot, and was said to be major issue in New England.

I have seen various bug damages and am quite certain, it is not bug damage.

Spongy is what describes the damage my GR has.

I have to disagree with you re. damage from nutrient deficiency would affect an entire tree uniformly. That could apply to a small, new tree where roots are more confined. For a larger, older tree, its roots travel everywhere. Some may find more balanced nutrients in one area. Others may not.

If it is a nutrient deficiency, perhaps the earlier batch of maturing fruits were less affected due to the tree having more nutrients at for those fruits that came first. That could also explain why some fruit have damage while others do not.

I’ve not seen damage like that except maybe apple fly maggot, but I certainly don’t think it’s that- you’d know it from the maggots probably, and they usually go after other types of apples, especially red earlier ripening ones.

None of the suggestions above appeal to my sense of logic. Storage disorders are just that. I’ve had some problems with corking of Goldrush, but that would include dimples on the skin which you don’t show, but knowing you, you’ve already looked into and rejected that.

Sorry, I haven’t seen that before… unless you left them on the trees too long. Fall Pests, Apple Harvest Maladies, Freeze Warning, Orchard Chores – IPM Pest Advisories

Scroll down.

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I’ll guess bitter pit. I see very similar symptoms in wild apples around here that haven’t been “fed” any calcium via pelletized gypsum and/or lime.


I have had bitter pit in my Honey Crisp. The signs and symptoms are textbook from those sunken black dots on skin to the flesh inside.

If my Gold Rush has suffered from bitter pit, the symptoms do not match. There were no sunken dark spots. The brown necrotic ares inside were extensive while the exterior looked normal. That’s why I can’t say it’s bitter pit.

I could have left them long but I don’t know if it’s too long because mid Nov has always been the time I picked this GR.

Thanks you guys for your comments. I plan to send in soil test. I’ll find out some time this season.

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Looks like bitter pit to me. I have read it is a calcium deficiency or lack or being able to absorb calcium.

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Bitter pit is said to have the black dot/spots on the skin of the apple which @mamuang said isn’t there.

At least for me, there seems many causes of this internal spongy necrosis that it’s hard to tell apart from pictures.

Soil test would rule out some potential issues, I would be interested in hearing about the results.

Highly likely this is micronutrient deficiency. Boron, copper, calcium, magnesium, and nickel are possibilities. Apples are known for being finicky about soil they grow in. Can you get a good micronutrient supplement and apply to the trees? I highly recommend adding boron. 20 mule team borax is sold in most grocery stores.

In all my years of managing apple trees in all kinds of different soils, the only fruit affecting nutrient deficiencies I’ve ever encountered are calcium and nitrogen. Admittedly I almost deal entirely with vigorous enough rootstocks to generally stand on their own roots… fully dwarfing rootstocks may be another story.

You didn’t respond to the suggestion of freeze damage. Goldrush is probably only especially resistant to freeze damage when brix is high.


You have other apple trees right? Or at least grafts of different apples on the same tree? Do any of the other apples exhibit the same problem ? Even if it’s at a much lower rate say 1 apple out of 10 or 1 apple out of 20.

The soil they grow in determines nutrient availability. Calcareous soils kill absorption of most metals such as zinc, nickel, iron, and manganese. You have acid based soil, otherwise would have had to figure out micronutrients long ago. I grow in soil that can be copper deficient. I add a copper supplement to grow corn. There are lots of areas where micronutrients have to be added to maintain production. Nickel and zinc are problems for pecans. I add them because I’ve seen mouse ear and rosette leaves on my trees when grown in containers. I also use basic slag to adjust PH and add micronutrients. I’m in a high rainfall hot humid climate where soils tend to be very acidic in the 4.5 to 5.5 range. Blueberries love it, apples - not so much. Micronutrients are a hidden problem for many growers who read these threads.

I work in soils everywhere from about 5 to 8 pH. The orchards I manage close to the beach tend to have the higher numbers.

As far as pH, the issue is one I’ve commented on many times here and it’s the one test I always do before planting trees and continue if the soil isn’t naturally close enough to neutral to be optimum for fruit. I have two Cornell soil test kits in my truck as well as two electronic, more expensive ones in my basement I don’t like so much.

I keep both sulfur and lime in my supplies and often do pH amendment before planting trees.

I have read a lot about nutrient deficiency in plants esp. fruit trees. It is not that easy to have a definite answers.

@Fusion_power from the article you link, my Gold Rush, both leaves and fruit, have not shown signs or symptom that fit description of of boron deficiency. I do have a box of 20 Mule borax. I am very careful about applying boron. Plants only need a little or else it’d turn into boron toxicity.

@mroot - all my apples tree, except for one, are multi-grafted. That Gold Rush trees has at least 7- 8 varieties on it. Other apples did not have this deficiency. If some did, they were not as obvious or extensive as GR.

If I recall correctly, Rubinette, Muscat de Venus, Hoople’s Antique Gold, Pitmaston Pineapple all fruited last year. Pitmaston might have apple or two with some “spongy” spots in the flesh.

I finally packed my soil for testing. Off it will go to UMass tomorrow.