pesticide use on fig tree

janenglandJanuary 7, 2007

My neighbor has a fig tree that appears to be struggling, and I told him I'd research a bit. Please don't flame me for my lack of knowledge!! The tree has new growth (little buds at the ends of the branches), and NO leaves at all. It is about 7-8 feet tall, and he says it has bever borne fruit. It's 4 yrs. old. I see some of what appears to be a trpe of scale on the branches. Can he spray this w/ a chemical such as malathion now to jumpstart the pest control, or shoould he stick w/ a dormant oil? I did tell him no pruning 'till frost danger is past. Can he also use citrus food at that time?

We live in central Florida. Today it's about 76 degrees and sunny, but we normally get at least one freeze each winter. Specific cultivar is unknown.

Many thanks for your advice!

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pitangadiego(San Diego, CA)

If it is scale, insecticide will not be effective. You would need to use a sufficant, such as a horticultural oil. Scale are only an issue if you have ants, which "farm" the scale for their secretions. Control the ants and you will control the scale. Generally the scale can the removed with high pressure water, and maybe a little rubbing with your hand. The water will not hurt the tree. I have two trees (our of hundreds) which the ants and scale are particularly fond of, and I just use the water treatment.

The citrus food is fine, or anything with some trace minerals. Otherwise triple 16 is fine. I would do an application just before bud-break, and then every couple weeks after that for most of the season. Some trees need a fertilizer shock to get them out of their lethargy.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 6:14PM
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Several years ago I received a fig tree loaded with scale. I called our local VA Extension Agent and he said use a brushing of canola oil, straight off the grocery shelf. I tried it, it worked beautifully. The scale never returned.
I would like to add to pitangadiego's advice on fertilizer shock that I have had good luck with fertilizers which are specificically for flower production. Our figs are, after all, inverted flowers.....Elder

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 11:14PM
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Thank you for your advice. I told my neighbor your recommendations, and he sprayed last week.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 2:19PM
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