What to do about plum aphid leaf curl?

peachymomo(Ca 8)April 5, 2013

My Mom's house has some fruit trees planted by the previous owner, one is a pretty big Santa Rosa plum and the first year it had one branch with lots of curly leaves. The next year it had even more curly leaves, I went to my favorite nursery to ask what to do and they said that it's plum aphids and the best thing is to just leave them alone and let the natural predators eat them. Two years later the Santa Rosa is heavily affected and I just noticed aphids on my new Elephant Heart plum as well, so I'm tired of waiting for natural predation to take effect and I started looking into other methods of control.

Everything I've found is geared towards commercial crops, and the pesticide info is pretty technical and intimidating. Any suggestions about backyard orchard techniques for plum aphid management? I would rather not use really nasty chemicals, but I have a sprayer and will break it out once the trees have gone dormant.

Thanks in advance!

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econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)

Neem oil will suffocate them and it is pretty safe. I spot spray the infected areas until they are dripping wet. Check back every few days and respray if needed.

I keep my trees to 8' or less so that I can spray easily standing on the ground or using a short step stool. If it is a larger tree then it may be more difficult to treat.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:48PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Neem will work great as Tom has mentioned, and I would also first blast the trees with water, to knock off the aphids. If they have their probiscus inserted into the leaf, the blast of water usually will break off the probiscus, thus starving (and then killing) the aphid. Then, spray with Neem making sure you get the underside of the leaves. A couple of times of doing that should get rid of the aphids. Do you see any ladybugs or lacewings at all on your trees or in your yard?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 3:00PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

I see lots of ladybugs around the yard, I'm not sure about lacewings but I think that there are plenty of insects. We have a mix of native wildflowers and grasses in the field and it seems to be a pretty good habitat for bugs of all kinds. I noticed some red ants on the Elephant Heart plum, I think they might be farming the aphids.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 3:34PM
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