Spray Help

kigerMay 1, 2012

I have a bunch of apple, pear, and cherry trees and I am trying to effectively spray them. I would like to be as organic as "reasonably" possible. I bought Michael Phillips' book The Holistic Orchard and he emphasizes the use of Neem, Liquid Fish, Streptomycin, and Surround Clay (all which I have purchased). But he also details molasses mixtures, and all kinds of other labor intensive mixtures which I am not presently interested in.

So could someone tell me if my spray schedule looks like it will take care of the big ones in the fungus and insect categories? I have some concern that this will not take care of all the fungal issues? What do you guys think?



- Dormant Oil


- Neem & Fish Fertilizer

Bloom (every 3-4 days)

- Streptomycin

Petal Fall

- Neem & Fish

- Surround

- Streptomycin

2 weeks later & every 10-14 thereafter

- Neem & Fish

- Surround

- Streptomycin

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alan haigh

Kig, I never use strep in the scores of orchards I've managed for many seasons and I'm in southeastern NY where FB is fairly common.

MP has gone a bit off the deep end, IMO, and is not qualified to instruct home growers- too little experience and interaction with other small growers. Too strongly affected by preconceived notions. He's a great garden writer, technique-wise, and his first book is highly useful, but now....

What is with all the aps of strep- he can't be recommending that as a blanket program?

Kig, your spray program will be largely based on your location and will not be a blanket program where you repeatedly apply these materials throughout the growing season. Let us know where you live.

Scott, please help this person.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Kig, hman is correct that the streptomycin is not needed. It is only needed if you have previous had bad fireblight problems.

I am not a big fan of neem oil, it has very minor disease control abilities. Michael is in a much less disease-prone part of the country and he also has years of experience in perfecting his spray timing, so he can get away with only neem. I would replace the neem with sulphur or alternate neem, sulphur, and serenade. Made sure to not have oil and sulphur together on the leaf at any point in time.

I would include lime/sulphur in your dormant spray for disease control help; if you get fireblight replace the l/s with copper dormant.

Surround is not sprayed on a regular interval basis, it is sprayed when more coverage is needed to due growth or heavy rain. It takes about 2" of rain to wash off a coat of Surround. Your spray program is lacking a control for codling moth, Surround helps some but it is by no means a complete solution. I use codling moth granulosis virus (either cyd-X or virosoft brand) and mating confusion lures to nail the CM. I can stop spraying Surround in June since it is no longer needed for CM or PC.

Make sure there are no juniper trees nearby, or chop down any that you can, because there is no good organic spray for cedar apple rust.

Michael's book discusses effective microbes at length; I don't think there is enough evidence in support of their use. Molasses on the other hand is a good foliar feeder, I don't use it now but am planning on doing regular molasses sprays. I use the Neptunes Harvest fish/seaweed combo in every spray for general foliar feeding.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 12:37PM
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I am near Toledo Ohio. Everywhere I look someone recommends something different. I wish I could just figure out what to apply and when to apply it for my area...

Scott, you said there is nothing organic for ceder apple rust. I am not opposed to non-organics. I just want to avoid possible cancer from inhaling the spray and also any issues with eating the fruit as I probably have three apples a day.

Maybe I should call my local extension to find out what I have to worry about in my neck of the woods and then get back to you guys?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:29PM
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alan haigh

Kig, here's a study you might find interesting http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15780775

It's a lengthy study of the long term health of agricultural pesticide applicators. Their exposure would be much, much, much greater than what you would get caring for a small orchard as it is common for farmers to pull a mist blower with a tractor where you positively live in a fog of the stuff.

Most of these farmers are old enough to have been exposed to materials much more dangerous than what is available or necessary to use now. As a group they are healthier, live longer and have less cancer than the general public.

I think avoiding cancer or personal health reasons is an irrational reason for going organic. To me the point is that it can be more environmentally friendly to garden this way and also dealing with any poisons is a PIA.

Cedar apple rust can easily be controlled with a relatively safe synthetic called myclobutanil, which can be purchased by homeowners under the name Immunox. It also does a great job against apple scab.

Ohio will have roughly the same complex of pests as what Scott and I face although a closer person could help you more in tailoring your program.

The cooperative extension can be helpful but you will get more accurate info about pesticide efficacy right here. Information for homeowners on this subject are not necessarily reliable from CE although I find my own CE very helpful. Just watch out for the printed handouts about pest control. They can be extremely helpful in IDing pests and any microscope work.

Michael has years of experience growing apples in a Z4 which doesn't provide quite the pest pressure as you face. He doesn't even have plum curculio at his site- the most difficult insect pest for most of us in the humid regions. I would assume fungus pressure tends to be less as well in his cooler climate.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

You know it is interesting no one really points out how important it is in the long run to keep a clean orchard by keeping our trees clean and our orchard floors clean. I think that is one of the key factors in combating disease and pest.

I try to inspect each tree everyday and I come back with pocket full of bad leaves or bad fruit.

Since humidity seems to be the key factor in disease control we should be able to identify an annual average humidity number rule of thumb that would identify regions good for organic programs and those places that are not like here where I live.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:12PM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi Kiger-
You're learning an important lesson in fruit growing very early on: The proper course of action depends a great deal on where you are located, because the insect and disease pressures are different in different areas.

I'm glad to hear that you're keeping your mind open about non-organic spraying. People on this forum usually aren't spraying things because we want to, we do it because we have very little choice in the matter.

Michael Phillips book is a very good reference (I have a copy), but it really doesn't apply to me all that much... even though I'm only a couple hundred miles away from where he is. For example, in addition to our (at least many here on the forum's) biggest insect nemesis, Plum Curculio, Michael doesn't have to deal with Cedar Apple Rust either in Zone 4, for which, as Scott mentions, there is no organic cure.

Many of us here will use organic techniques when possible/effective (I do a lot of bagging for example), and then resort to spraying when we have little other choice. The majority of us here who do spray, research the topic thoroughly, obey the labels, and practice safe spraying measures so that we can do it safely and effectively. Stick around and I'm sure you can do the same.

Best Regards,

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:25PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Wait and see can bit you in the butt too. Like fireblight on young trees. By the time the stikes are identified and the cut backs you make to remove the strike a lot of fruiting wood can be lost. LOL, I tried one of those computer programs that help predict fire blight and it said spray all of the time. Anybody else use these programs?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:47PM
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alan haigh

I see what I wrote about cooperative extensions is a little confusing at the end. What I meant to say is that I've often read inaccurate handouts about pest control for home growers that are produced for the cooperative extension of several states. The most recent was a Rutgers composition about general home fruit tree care that included, among other inaccuracies, a recommendation to apply malathion bi-weekly to control plum curculio. It is not nearly persistent enough to be affective if used this way.

However, if there's a pest you can't identify they can be a great source of information for identifying it and educating you about its life cycle.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:47PM
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alan haigh

Try to avoid FB susceptible varieties and rootstocks.

Wait and see is great for insects and most common diseases when trees are just starting to bear for the long term good of truly understanding what's going on. Of course you'll probably have to sacrifice you first small harvest.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:20PM
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