The Q&A Archives: Apple Tree Spraying

Question: We have three beautiful healthy apple trees that bear a bumper crop in average moisture years. However, we wind up donating them to the neighbor who makes great apple cider because we do not know when and what to treat them with to prevent scabs, brown trails through the fruit, and deformed fruit, to mention just a few things, so we do not spray at all. We also don't know how to pick them. Do we get the ones on the ground, or off the tree or what? We need help!

Answer: You see to be dealing with a number of problems with your apple trees! It's a fact of nature that in order to grow tree fruits, you need to commit to the time and energy required to protect them. To avoid scab problems, your apple trees can be sprayed with Bordeaux (lime-sulfur). This fungicide must be applied early and thoroughly to protect new growth. Apply according to label directs; as the buds break until the leaves are fully expanded. Do this at prepink, pink, calyx, and first cover. Since the fungus overwinters in fallen leaves and fruit, be sure to thoroughly clean up and dispose of plant debris in the fall months. The brown trails through the fruit indicate apple maggot presence. There has been some success with with phermone (sex attractant) traps to catch the adult fly. You can also make sticky-traps to hang in your tree; use red balls or old plastic Christmas tree ornaments coated with petroleum jelly to trap the females. (They lay their eggs oi developing apple fruits and the eggs hatch into little worms burrow their way through the fruit. The brown trails are the tunnels where they've been.) Again, be sure to dispose of, or bury any fruit that has fallen on the ground. Because your apple tree problems are so extensive, I'd suggest visiting your local Cooperative Extension office for detailed control measures. You can tell when apples are ripe by waiting for a few to fall naturally from the tree. Cut these open. If the seeds inside are brown, the apples are ready to be picked. Hope the above information is helpful.

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