Keeping bugs off apples

daddylonglegs(z5 WI)October 2, 2006

Hello fellow WI gardeners!

Beautiful weather, let's enjoy it!!

I headed to the apple tree with my kids to pick a few, and find 99% of them just riddled with bug damage. I had been spraying in the spring, but didn't keep it up thru the summer. I suppose if I had I wouldn't have this problem.

Has anyone had good luck with their apples? How did you do it?

Rich

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cheryloz4

Hey Rich,
I know Jung's Garden Center in Stevens Point sells a Fertilome Brand Fruit Tree Spray. With that particular product you need to keep it up trough the growing season.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 8:43PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Thanks Cheryl, I'll take a look. Right now I think the bottle I use is a Bonide product, and I know I don't spray often enough but I would think it would at least cut down on the bugs a little. Maybe dormant oil in fall would help too. Maybe a mesh bag around each apple.

Rich

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 1:19PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

My method is to have so many apple trees that the bugs can't get them all. :-) My best luck is with the very late trees, the worms get into the earlier ones more. I do have some organic fruit tree powder that you mix with water and spray a few times a year, but haven't used it lately. That was from Gardens Alive! Also have some dormant oil, I think from the same source. When I did use it at my last house, it was effective. I only had one apple tree there, and I have dozens here, so I don't even try.

Sorry I haven't sent you seeds yet, Rich. I mean to all the time but I lead a sort of chaotic life.

Marcia

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 11:59PM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

I have the same problem & I'm not real fond of spraying. Gardens Alive (& I'm sure others also) sell a plastic apple you coat with pherenome that attracts apple pests. The concept is that they stick to the plastic apple. I'm trying to find a source cheaper than Gardens Alive or Steins for it. We've got all winter to work this out.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 11:33PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Bob, I'm glad you mentioned that. I've heard good things about it but I couldn't remember the recipe and I thought it was just a home made remedy. I'll watch for it at Steins. I don't like spraying either, but I like apples...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 1:28PM
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athenainwi

I don't have apples, but on my peach tree next year I was going to try bagging the peaches. You just put some type of bag (try the fruit and orchards forum for advice on what kind to use) over the apple in the spring, and the insects can't get to it. If you have a lot of apples it would be easier to do a spray, but bagging is more enviromentally friendly and is supposed to work well. I haven't done it myself yet though as I didn't get any peaches this year.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 5:26PM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

I only have a few semi dwarf apple trees, but bagging each fruit would be a challenge. Must be some kind of mesh bag. A plastic bag would be a mini greenhouse & paper bags would get destroyed by rain & wind. Interesting concept.......

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 10:46PM
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heartsease(z4a)

Hi, apple lovers!
If you guys can figure this out over the winter I would be in heaven. I have five apple trees and would love to stay organic. Even the recommended non-organic sprays are enough to drive you crazy. Try timing it between windy or rainy days in the spring with the added stipulations of bud color or petal fall and basically there isn't one day you can spray!
Linda

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:20PM
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athenainwi

Here's a couple of threads about bagging fruit:
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fruit/msg0501490712645.html
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fruit/msg0223270012210.html

The easiest bags are just ziploc bags with the corners cut off to allow air circulation and water drainage. Cloth bags can provide more protection from wildlife as they can't see the fruit. I can't find the thread now, but some people were using the protective cloth footies as bags. I was going to try the ziploc bags as I don't have any squirrels to worry about here.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 9:46PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Thanks for the threads!
I think I'll try clear ziplock backs with a small hole cut in the top corner for the stem, and a few slits in the bottom. I hope the stems are strong enough to hold onto a plastic bag in 50 mph winds.
Since I'll be on the tree thinning it out, I might as well have a few dozen bags handy and apply them at the same time.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 1:51PM
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aspen

Hi Rich,
My Mom had a recipe she shared with me that keeps about 75% of apples bug free. It doesn't require any spraying. Take a one gallon jug, opposite of the handle cut an opening large enough to reach inside. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, pour into jug one inch deep. Add a few tbs of molassas, and hang 6 ft. apart in your apple trees. Check weekly to remove bugs and moths. I usually start this process just as the trees are beginning to bloom in the spring. If I keep up with it for a few months, I have mostly bug free apples.

Colleen

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 10:22AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Interesting, thanks Colleen! I'll give that a try.
I think I'll try the baggie idea on some of them too. I'll post my results next year.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 1:38PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

I'm reviving this thread to see if anyone has implemented what we discussed last fall.
I gave the tree one dose of bug spray after blossom drop, then put plastic baggies around a few of the apples, then also hung jugs with vinegar, water, and molasses. It's been a week, haven't seen any bugs in the jugs.

Rich

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 1:11PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I had used the technique aspen wrote of on Oct 19 with good success until the aged apple tree could bear no more. My new trees are not of bearing size yet. It may be too early for bugs in the jugs. One other technique is to hang a red sphere (croquette ball?) put a ziplock on it and slobber tanglefoot on the ziplock. As the ziplock gets full of bugs, take it off and put a new one on.

tj

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:01AM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

Whether has been so funky this Spring, I have absolutely no idea when to spray my trees. I suppose the 1st calm day without rain will be it. I need to run down to Steins & get some spray.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 9:51PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

OK, so I checked my apples a week after spraying and found bug holes. Spraying doesn't seem too effective for me. So I placed plastic ziplock baggies over them, bottom corners cut off and leaving ample room for the stem. Now I noticed after a week that few stems are somewhat dented where it comes into the baggie, so I'm worried that the apple health will be impacted. Maybe I put them on too early? If I wait though I am sure that all apples will have bug holes in them.

So let's see:
Bag of apples at the store= $4
vs.
Tree spray= $8
Plastic baggies= $2
vinegar and mollasses= $2
Group therapy on GardenWeb= free

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:22PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Hey daddylonglegs- here's more therapy. They say covering the apples with mud stops the bugs also. So next time it rains start a mud fight with your (neighbor, kids, wife, etc). Just make sure you stand in front of the apples. It'll be good therapy.

tj

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 6:42PM
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farmerboybill

Daddylonglegs,

Another source for the apple decoys is Gemplers. They are a lot cheaper than Jungs and I would think they're cheaper than Gardens Alive as well.

I haven't tried this method as my trees are only 1 year old but am planning on doing it when they start to bear fruit. Has anyone else had good luck?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:54AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

It looks like the plastic bag method holds the most promise for me. They are currently the only apples without holes in them. So far it looks like I left enough room for most of the stems, only one casualty.
A red decoy with tanglefoot on it sounds interesting, I've heard of that one before, maybe I'll try that next year after I see how much I've caught in the jugs. Not much so far.
Cool thing about the plastic bag idea is that it sounds like you can write someone's name on the bag and it will appear on the apple.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 1:19PM
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andimia(5)

One thing that I was told to do (as I have only one apple tree) is to spray the flowers off of it with a jet from the hose. The idea is that bugs lay their eggs in the flower and then they hatch as worms while the fruit develops. If they can't find the flower, they can't lay the eggs and the fruit doesn't get worms (that's the theory anyway).

There was a rainstorm last year the day after the blooms opened and they were all blown and beaten off of the tree and I did see a decline in the amount of pest-ridden apples. My problem is that the tree itself is declining in health very rapidly. I've already lost some major branches in the past two years and I've been cutting off a lot of the fruit to push the energy back into the tree. My neighbor uses a large mesh wrap around the entire canopy of the tree and gets fairly few bugs depending on when in the spring it is put on.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:33PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Interesting. I would think timing is critical for that because some pollination needs to take place first.
I've heard that flower theory before, where the bugs lay eggs on the flowers. I think that is incorrect.

I put plastic bags on the apples when they were acorn size, didn't wait until they were walnut size and I'm glad I didn't. Within one week all of the apples had holes in them, except for the ones in the plastic bags. The apples are now walnut size and all of the ones in the plastic bags are unblemished.
I've had a few apples with plastic bags fall off, but several without plastic bags have as well, so I'm not going to say that the bag caused it. The stems are bigger and stronger now and I don't see any more scoring from the bag.
So far I am the most pleased with the plastic bag method. I intend to keep posting my results on this thread.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 1:23PM
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athenainwi

Thanks for the update. I didn't end up using the bags as I think my peach tree is dying (there is a big gap in the trunk where shelf fungus is starting to grow). There are only a couple of peaches on it, even less in reach of me, so I gave up on getting any. Some have holes in them now, but some of the fruit still looks okay to me. I think peaches will be harder to bag anyway because they don't have much of a stem. I'll see what I get without care this year, and I'll prune it later this summer. Then if the tree survives the winter I'll see if a dormant copper spray can help me get one more year out of it.

I planted a little Honeycrisp apple this spring and I'll try the bags on that when it gets older so let me know how it goes.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:08PM
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marcia7439

I found this thread, and I'm so happy I did.
Did the baggies work?
I too, live in Wis, and just came in from picking up another 50 apples from the ground.all wormy and half eaten. ?? squirrels? Chippies?
I sprayed last year, and had lousy results. Some lady I met, told me to hang jugs of honey in the trees to attract the worms and bugs. Will try that next year. Has anyone had luck with the vinegar and molassis?
I also want to cut them down a bit. They must be 35 feet tall! Can I do that now? early october? With the 3 good applkes I got and the hundreds hauled off to the dump......I don't care at this point if they die off.
Any help or suggestions is appreciated!
Thanks
Marcia

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 4:56PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Marcia, I took a few photos of the results I had this year using baggies. I'll post them when I get a chance in the next several days. The baggies were working good, until the earwigs found them. They crawled right along the stem, thru the slit in the top of the bag, and invaded most of them.
If I can do something about the earwigs, I'd say the baggie method had the most promise.

This year I'm going to try dormant oil spray, then anything that will kill earwigs but not poison the fruit, and maybe a few decoys with Tanglefoot on them.

2007 season summary:

Molasses and vinegar: didn't really work too well, caught a few bugs but most apples were still attacked.

Baggies: Half of the apples with baggies fell from the tree prematurely. Might be that the baggies were too tight on the stem, or added weight and wind caused stems to stress. Of the apples that survived, only one or two out of 10 survived ear wig invasion. I'll probably try this method again next year and get jiggy with it.

Actually, as it turns out, none of this mattered anyway. This weekend my 4 & 7 year old daughters took all the apples I picked and smashed them on the patio and had an apple stomping party. Is that not the perfect ending?!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 1:35PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

daddylonglegs- Egad, not those two adorable kids I saw at the plant swap! Surely it must have been someone else. Doppelgängers perhaps?

tj

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 7:52PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Must have been Doppelgängers, no other explanation for their ability to destroy the patio and their rooms simultaneously :)
Crushed apples sure do attract the yellow jackets.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 1:17PM
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elvis

Yup, yellow jackets sure like the downed apples. I work at the County Forestry Department up here in northern WI, and my boss the forester cautioned me to clean up every dropped apple and remove it from the tree area. He says that causes a lot of bug problems. So as the wind drops apples, I do a combo dog poopie patrol and apple pickup every day after work.

I've NEVER had a bug on my apples. Knock on wood, LOL. Oh, and I've never sprayed or bagged. Maybe because it's so cold up here in the winter?

Con

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 10:10AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Con, what variety do you have? Someone at work brought in Granny Smith, never had a bug problem on them. But he had plenty of bug problems on the red apple varieties.

Thanks for the tip on clean up, I usually just leave them lay there. I'll pick them up, maybe that will help some.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 1:26PM
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marcia7439

Just have to thank you all!
I have been mixing up a 1/2 gal of water/1/2 gal vinegar and a couple of ounces of molassis.....and putting it in milk jugs! Weekly they are crammed with bugs, flies and whatevers!
My husband wacked at the 3 trees this spring.......anything that grew up, he cut down! The horizontal branches are loaded! didn't kill the trees anyhow!
I have cut into a couple dozen or so walnut + sized apples and so far all are good.....
I'm so glad I found this thread last fall!
oh............but come fall...the work ahead...and all the pies! :-( But many thanks to all!
Marcia

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 9:22PM
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