The Q&A Archives: Diseased trees

Question: I have fruit trees in my yard, and every year the fruit turns purple/rotten before it matures. It has worms in the fruit (plums, and peaches. What can I do about that? Are the trees unhealthy?

Answer: If the pest is plum curculio, you'll see whitish to yellow-white, legless grubs with brown heads in the fruit. This small weevil eats a hole in developing fruit and deposits eggs inside. Once the worms hatch, they feed, and often the fruit ripens and drops early.

Another possible pest is the Oriental fruit moth. The larvae are pinkish, 1/2 -inch worms with legs. Symptoms include damaged growing tips.

Treatment timing for either pest is most important. You don't want to spray and kill insects that pollinate the blooms. So it's generally recommended applications be made when the petals fall.

Some gardeners build scaffolds over trees, then cover the structures with row cover right after blossoms fall.

To discourage future outbreaks, remove infested fruit. Check with your local cooperative extension office for a fruit tree spray schedule. The publication will include spray dates for your gardening region along with products registered for your local area.

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