Spray schedule and fruit trees

tiarnna(z5 WA)April 15, 2006

I have cherry, apple, and pear trees. Other than a great harvest of pears, all go to the bugs and birds. I need to start spraying them, and I know I am already getting a late start, but better late than never right? I need a schedule and product recommendations for spraying and not dousing them with nasty chemicals. Links to websites (not out to sell their stuff-which is all I am finding) will be most appreciated as well!! THanks!

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We're planning on planting apple trees this year. Last week I read a reference to Michael Phillips who specializes in organic apple growing. He has a book which is said to be the best guide for growing apples. I haven't read the book yet, but have spent time reading his website which offers a lot of good info - see link.

We used to have a cherry tree that usually lost about 1/3 of the fruit to worms. Those that were affected were easy to see and we just left them on the tree for the birds. I never looked into preventing this problem and it didn't matter that there was some fruit loss because the tree was so productive.

Here is a link that might be useful: lost nation orchard

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 7:29AM
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Bruce_in_ct(6 - CT)

You need to figure out what problems you have to manage. It's critical to focus on what is a problem in your area.

The Phillips book is really good, but came about before Surround hit the market. Surround is considered the best (almost only) organic treatment for plum curculios, which are a major league problem for apples. Unless you can keep chickens under your trees, which I can't. But his experience is in the northeast.

Raintree Nursery is in Washington and, if you're in the area, you might want to drop in. I haven't ordered from there in a while, but the catalog and website list various classes on northwestern backyard fruit growing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Raintree Nursery

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 8:56AM
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Bruce, there is a new edition of the book (2005). Phillips discusses Surround on his website.

Here is a link that might be useful: see

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 9:04AM
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Three of the most widely used chemicals in the apple industry are mineral oil, copper, and sulfur. Curiously, these chemicals are also approved for organic growers. That is because they are relatively benign to humans and the environment. Mineral oil is used to spray up until bloom time, then after the fruit is formed. It kills insects by coating them so they canÂt breath. Copper and sulfur are used to thwart fungi, such as apple scab, and have been used for over a hundred years. There are few hazards to using them, except where there are huge commercial orchards or vineyards where they dump 1000Âs pounds during a growing season. Backyard gardeners have no problems when they are applied according to directions. Worms in apples are sometimes defeated by hanging red balls covered in sticky gloo that traps the moths that lays their eggs in the forming apples. Â These balls called "sticky traps" (how inventive!). For bird control, lots of places sell bird netting, this works on dwarf trees.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 9:16AM
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There is a clay product called kaolin which is used to make paper white. This product is available and can be diluted and spayed on various fruit trees to repel insects. Birds find it repelling. It is subject to washing off in heavy rain so additional applications may be required. The product leaves a white film on the fruit. Go to a web site, dirtdoctor.com for more info.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 10:03AM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

texasredhead: Surround is a kaolin clay product--strained super-fine so it's available for use in spray equipment--even inexpensive sprayers for home and garden. It was "discovered" by a USDA fruit research guy (I think his name was Glen Davis), but if you read the links to the site Althea mentions above, you can find the complete story. I'm always happy when something organic comes from the USDA. For many years, organic growers have been suspicious of the USDA, because of their continuing association with chemical companies. Of course with the advent of the NOP (National Organic Program), where the USDA and organic growers have more of an association and involvement with one another--HOPEFULLY (and I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because the USDA still has a strong association with chemical companies through conventional and IPM growers, and they still are heavily and dedicatedly associated with GMO producers), hopefully, some good will come of this for those who wish to see a more Earth-friendly approach to agriculture. And the link to Michael Phillips, posted above, is an excellent one for organic fruit-tree growers. ANY ORGANIC (FRUIT-TREE) GROWER READING THIS POST IS DOING THEMSELVES A DISSERVICE IF THEY DO NOT READ ABOUT MICHAEL PHILLIPS, HIS FARM, AND HIS ONGOING ORGANIC RESEARCH INTO SENSIBLE FRUIT GROWING. He's a voice in the wilderness for fruit tree growers, who have been told for years by chemical heads, that they have to spray poison on fruit trees to get an edible crop. And his information is intended for home growers and small growers--not mega-orchards, owned by conglomerates.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 12:24PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

tiarnna - the primary preventive spray is the dormant oil/sulpher spray mentioned above, but it's getting to bloom time here in the PNW, so a bit late for that - please don't use any sprays from the time your buds break until the bloom is totally over - keep our Mason bees safe!!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 1:06PM
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tiarnna(z5 WA)

Bill-so nothing at all, zip nada nill till blooms are gone then right?

Thank you everyone for the help and advice!!!!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 4:19PM
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Bruce_in_ct(6 - CT)

I'll have to look for a copy of the updated book.

Dormant oil and lime sulfur sprays take care of a lot of problems. I forget how critical they are until the occasional year when I don't do them before bud break and then everything runs amock. Not necessarily right away, but unfortunate things will happen.

I spray my plums during bloom because I need to control brown rot. I spray micronized sulfur just before bloom, copper soap during peak bloom 1 to 1 1/2 weeks later, and then follow with Serenade 1 to 1/2 weeks after that. That timing also seems to work against black knot.

Although copper sprays aren't as malevolent as a lot of the commercial fungicides, the re-entry time for them is typically 24 hours. Gardens Alive's copper soap (Soap Shield) allows for re-entry as soon as it dries.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 7:09PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

tiarnna, I wouldn't spray anything from the first sign of pink til the last petal falls - but then as a beekeeper, some insects are more important to me than others! :) actually I never use anything except ocassionally dormant spray - I'm in the juice business and cosmetics don't matter as long as the tree stays healthy!

also if you use any oil-based sprays after the trees leaf out [aside from not doing much good], you have to be aware of leaf burn - use oil containing sprays in cloudy periods so the sun doesn't cook the oil coated leaves

as Bruce says, the oil/lime/sulpher spray in late dormancy does a lot for limiting damage from a number of things which overwinter on the trees, but it's not as useful by the time the leaves show

here's some scheduling info from our ag dept - note what's organic or not, and which apply to different fruits


    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 11:31PM
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Your local office of the West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service will have information for you on just when to spray, and they should also have some information about organic care, information that you have already paid for through your taxes. You may need to pay something to cover the cost of printing the brochures but that information is there already.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 7:18AM
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Last year, I regularly sprayed our 3 dwarf Apple trees, which are about 14 years old, and not so dwarf anymore.
I did spray a concentrated solution of Neem based organic spray during dormancy, and then approximately every 2 weeks after all pedals dropped, at a lower concentration as directed on the product instructions.
I wish to stay as completely organic as possible. When harvest time came, the apple crop was substantial, but still had alot of spots, some worm issues and etc. Any suggestions to assist me in a more blem free crop.
Thanks for any input.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 1:06AM
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Will the use of Captan as a fungacide used after petal fall injure the fruit or leaf structure on pear trees ?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 1:14PM
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