Technical question about apple bags

glib(5.5)September 17, 2011

I work in a tech field where we have to build parts every now and again. I was talking to a recently retired colleague and friend about my plans for a mini-orchard with apple bagging.

Being who we are, we started discussing the bags while googling things and soon were discussing how to make a better bag. It seems to me that one has three basic options

1) ziploc bags. They work well, but are not reusable, a definite con is that they are a pain to put on (at least for us untrained people).

2) footies. Codling moth(?) can punch through.

3) japanese paper bags. Not clear how reusable they are, and how easy they are to apply. But for sure they require you to go up the ladder once more in September for removal.

They also lower the content of quercetin and other antioxidants, by blocking the sun.

We are thinking of a device with stronger netting than footsies, reusable many times, applicable and removable with one hand and one click, basically working like one of those old coin pouches with a clickable metal lip. I would appreciate opinions as to the relative merits of reusability, minimization of work, and anything else we should consider.

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I've reused the ziplocks.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 12:53PM
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It's a bit of a pain, but I also wash and reuse my ziplocks. If they won't dry just being open, you may have to turn them inside out to get them to dry on the insides. Eventually they crack or rip, but I can get at least two years and sometimes three out of a bag. Some of the bags stay clean enough not to need washing, but the ones that fall early usually end up dirty. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 8:45PM
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hmm - no one else commenting.

I think the main issue may be cost. How many years of use is it practical to assume? For ease of application, how much of a premium will people want to pay over the cost of the ziplocks?

People can use hundreds of these things for every tree. I would definitely be interested in a device that would make application quicker, but there's a limit to how much people will want to pay.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 8:49PM
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Tubing & twist-ties comes to mind.

There's a tubular guaze bandage that comes with an applicator. Have a cut thumb? The guaze is poked over the thumb, pulled back and twisted, poked again, etc. until enough layers are built up. Twist off the end, cut, and stick on adhesive tape. Pretty soon you can't do a dern thing with that thumb, but at least it's safe.

Replace gauze with a nice tight-mesh nylon. The open-ended tube is placed over the fruit, a crimper is used to apply a twist-tie at both ends, the tube is cut with scissors. Move to next apple. Heat sealing might be an option.

Please don't patent this brilliant idea and make yourself rich without including me ...


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 9:40PM
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To be honest, the tubing and crimper doesn't sound any easier to apply than the ziplocks. If you pre-cut the corners and paper punch a hole in the center of the zipper, assembly-line style in the comfort of your home, the application goes fairly quickly, once you get the hang of it. Check out different brands of bags. Some go on much more easily than others. The ultra-cheapos seem to work the best. My main gripe is that about half the apples I have bagged, even with rather strict thinning, later have fallen in June drop or for whatever reason, making a mess under the tree, diminishing the harvest, and wasting time bagging. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:06AM
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You're probably right. I'm still uncomfortable with plastic bags next to my fruit in all that sun, though, so I would like a way to do it with a good nylon. Footies did not do it for me- CM got right through them, even sprayed with Surround. Probably didn't keep enough Surround on them, though.

Oh well- another fortune down the drain.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 8:22AM
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I definitely find the ziplocks can be trouble to get on - and this is more the case when trying to reuse them, getting the zip to work. I'd be interested in trying an alternative.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 9:33AM
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I will keep you posted if we ever develop a prototype. We went across the street from his office, where there are mature crabapples, thinned and tried to put a ziploc on, and we did not find it very easy...

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Will your bags keep out squirrels? Do zip lock baggies keep out squirrels? Thanks Mrs. G

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 11:14AM
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Squirrels CAN easily get through the bags, but I find that it discourages them. The squirrels here prefer pears to apples. I was always finding pears ripped off and chewed on by squirrels. This year, I bagged the pears and the only one they got so far was one where the bag had fallen off a while before.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:06PM
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I have found that some varieties of apples are much easier to bag than others. It depends on how long the stems are. Just testing on the crabs might not give you a true picture. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 2:12PM
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myk1(5 IL)

I reuse zipper bags. How many years depends on how sick I am of taking them off. The sicker I am of it the more I rip. I don't clean them, I throw out the dirty ones.

I can't think of anything that is going to be any less time consuming to apply if you're applying to individual fruits.

I think the idea (posted elsewhere) of a row cover bag that goes over the whole tree would be the only other answer that does the same thing but is easier.

They seem to discourage my squirrels but they have gone after them.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 2:08AM
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I can see some problems with the row cover giant bag. Fungal diseases will be worse, and quite a lot of stuff will accumulate at the bottom, including drops. Perhaps something more transparent, such as mosquito netting, plus some handy mechanism to clear the bag at the bottom?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 7:51AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I re-use my cotton drawstring bags. If the drawstrings had those little spring plastic closure things you often find on rucksacks, sleeping bag bags, etc, they would be very easy to get off and on. There may be something a bit more thin than the cotton which will let in more sun, but the cotton does keep all the bugs out; thinner fabric runs the risk of moths able to lay eggs through it. Now that I think of it, it is probably possible to pick up a gross of those closure things from a wholesale supply place and put them on the cotton drawstring bags, and then you will have bags that will last a long time. The cotton bags can be washed like clothing for the next season.

I'm not bagging anymore myself, I solved my moth problem with mating disruption. It took four years to reduce the population enough for it to work, but it worked well this last season.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 9:07AM
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This year I used footies soaked in a high concentration of kaolin. My results are so far favorable, but inconclusive.
I just harvested my Fiesta apple tree and of the 50 footied apples there was no Coddling moth. However, I found 5 apples on the tree that were not footied and they also were moth-free. Further, I have a Jonagold tree that is absolutley loaded with fruit and it appears to be less than 20% moth infected. CM pressure appears to be quite low this year, likely due to years of fanatical apple bagging.
One thing I did notice was about a 10% incidence of deep, black rot around the stem. I am convinced this is from the footies as I never see this on unbagged apples. It is also happening to my Enterprise tree resulting in a handful of early windfall fruits. I consider this loss acceptable.
Also, earwig proplems were practically nil. Just an occasional loner or a pile of abandoned frass. I remember in years passed the plain footies were virtual earwig convention centers.
If my other apple trees fare as well as the Fiesta, I will use the Kaolin footies again next year. I definitely prefer it to the ziploc sandwich bags.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 1:11PM
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Yes, thanks to my wife we tried the footies on crabapples too, and those were a breeze, and I guess (you may confirm it) that there is no need to take them off until the apple is picked.

One question I had about footies was the incidence of flyspeck and other summer fungal diseases. Surely the ziplocs and paper bags eliminate them, but what about footies (and cotton bags)?

Also, should we attempt a whole tree bag prototype, how many of you have aphids, and do you think they can be controlled with the bag on?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 1:52PM
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I noticed a slight increase in sooty blotch when I tried the footies, but that was just one tree, one time.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:14PM
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What if you got a bag of small rubber baloons. I think you can get a bog of 100 for a couple bucks. They wouldn't let much light in (though I do see clear latex baloons online), and may, or may not be re-useable. But it should be pretty easy to stretch the neck over a baby apple and then it would be rather snug around the stem. Might not be super tight, but should hold pretty well. You might be able to slip the apple back through the neck if it's a little moist and the rubber is stretchy enough.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:39PM
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I have been playing around with different answers for years on this subject and I do indeed have some thoughts on this:

  1. Here's one problem and this would require a separate thread to talk about it: I have done a patent search on one of my ideas and I am now leaning toward believing I don't have the resources or am likely to push it through where I would be able to make any money off of why not just follow my natural instinct and share? I wonder, though, whether I wouldn't come across the right group who could push it across and I could make some money off of it later.....I don't have much to shout about for retirement, so which is better? To do everything in one's power to help humanity as soon as possible.....or to take a 10% chance one could actually suceed in looking after one's own needs, make some money, and let humanity wait a few years? (I say this partially tongue-in-cheek, knowing surely that others have had the same basic ideas I have had but just haven't published them yet, knowing that I am out of my league, etc....but I am also somewhat serious)

  2. Also needing a separate thread was an intriguing comment by Scott:
    "I'm not bagging anymore myself, I solved my moth problem with mating disruption. It took four years to reduce the population enough for it to work, but it worked well this last season. "

As for me, I used isomate C pheromone disruptors purchased from Wilbur Ellis in various locations in Seattle last year and I kind of thought it wasn't worth it....but recent data is causing me to reconsider whether mating disruptors might be efficacious in an urban setting, under certain conditions. Scott's idea that it takes 4 years is highly interesting to me.

This thought deserves a separate thread as well.

  1. I used balloons....they can work, but I seemed to have more apple scab in wet Western Washington....perhaps I should have sealed them more.

  2. I have been promoting the idea of mosquito netting on container fruit trees but am a bit more "soured" on this idea after talking with experts at the Mt. Vernon Research Station where they believe the netting is more likely to introduce fungus.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 8:32PM
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Are balloons any cheaper than ziplocks? Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 8:37PM
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If it is the same balloons that kids use for water fights, they will be tough to peel off the ripe apple.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Two other materials to add: I work in food manufacturing and we have the disposable boufant hair nets, which are like row cover. The other are the disposable pillow case covers on commercial airlines. I did an experiment with these along with bird netting this year on different trees for rodent dissuasion.
They all worked but I was thinking about the small disposable pillow cases for the baggies next year earlier on. The hairnets fell apart under the UV stress, which is a shame because they are incredibly cheap. I'm in the southeast and I worry about the ziplocs and the heat and humidy. I'm looking forward to what works best.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 10:00PM
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OK, one last flogging of this poor dying horse and I will stop:

Nylon mesh tubing, would come in a flat roll from 3 to 5 inches wide, tubing circumference 6 to 10 inches, circle diameter roughly 2 to 3 inches.

Pull off a few inches and heat-crimp one end, leaving the other end open; place open end over young apple; close that end like Scott's cloth parts bags or the old Bull Durham cigarette tobacco bags- a twist tie might work.

Or perhaps: pull bag over a ball, twist tie or heat seal the end attached to the roll and cut. Proceed as above.

Apple grows and forces bag to shape.

Oh, well, a guy can dream, can't he ... ?


    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 10:32PM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

Hi all,

Is anyboby out there have a picture of their apple tree cover with ziplock bags. I just want to see what it is look like and imagine it in my back yard. If it works well I will bag it next spring.



    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 1:53PM
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I realize this is an old thread but I wanted to add and ask something.

About 6 years ago, my cantaloupes grew up the fence. When I realized that the weight would probably break the vines, I took knee high panty hoses and slipped them over the cantaloupe and tied the top to the wire on the fence. Not only did that work for the weight, it kept bugs off the cantaloupe's. I would wonder if knee highs or even cutting regular hoses and tying them off, would work for this or if insects could still get in through the tiny holes?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:34AM
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Many people use footies to protect their fruits. Apparently they work except for codling moth. I have not seen no suggestion here as to how the larva gains entry (through the footy, or crawling along the branch and stem). Anyone with experience with footies and codling moth wants to pitch in?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:47AM
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You mean for apples? They sell little footies just for this purpose. They only claim to control apple maggots, not a lot of other pests. I haven't found them very effective, not as effective as ziplocks, and others around here have had a similar experience.

Here is a link that might be useful: Footies

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:47AM
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I had really good luck this year with using Surround-soaked footies. I refresh-sprayed Surround twice after heavier rainfalls and only lost one apple to CM. I only had four dwarf trees producing so was able to cover everything ok.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Well, I didn't get a response from my inquiry of a couple days ago and so I am posting this thread from a year ago which intrigued me.
I have had some problems with foot sox, even with kaolin clay, in high codling moth populations. I am not sure if the codling moths are eating through the footies in this case .... or if I was too late in applying the foot sox. I am wondering if maybe I should have put on a spinosad product first to kill any emerging larvae just in case there was already an egg inside where I planted the foot sox. Of course, spinosad has a short re-entry time and this makes it easier.
Any other ideas to consider?
I am also open to knowing how to post a question on this forum and get a response......others seem to have mastered this art more than me.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 7:27PM
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