The majority of backyard fruit trees need to be sprayed to avoid diseases and parasites. Adopting a regular spraying schedule for any mini-orchard is easy, requires only a small investment of money and time, and will result in healthy, delicious, unblemished fruit. However, one spray "does not fit all" types of trees.
Common diseases and parasites can be stopped with the regular application of a general-purpose spray. These work well for apples, pears, cherries, and more. They do not help with the notorious "peach tree curl" and "peach tree borers," nor will they stop black knot of plum or cedar apple rust. These general-purpose sprays can be found at most hardware stores and lawn and garden centres. They contain pesticides. When and how often the spray is used depends on the type of fruit tree. Read the label.
A variety of insects vex fruit growers because they can cut a tree's production. These include apple and blueberry maggots, the persistent Japanese beetles that resemble lady birds, caterpillars, and the gypsy moth. The sprays stop these pests from nibbling on leaves and young fruit. As an added benefit, the sprays serve as a repellent for deer and rabbits, which are turned away by the taste. Some spray oils work against aphids, mites and scales.
Peach Trees Require Extra Care
"Peach tree curl" is essentially a defoliator. The scientific name for the disease is taphirna deformans, and it results in the leaves of peach and nectarine trees curling, crinkling and becoming misshapen. Sometimes only part of a leaf, or part of a tree, is affected. Sometimes, the leaves will also change colour, becoming purple or red-tinged. It causes blossoms to drop in the spring, cutting the yield, and it can also attack the fruit itself. Despite its severity, peach tree curl is easy to prevent with one fungicide spraying in the fall after most of the leaves have dropped or early in the spring before the buds engorge. Specific sprays are available or can be mixed. The tree must be completely sprayed.
A Schedule for Apples
Spraying apple trees eight to 10 times a year might seem like a lot of work, but will yield great results. Spraying with oil once every three years in April will stop mites. Battling scabs requires a fungicide, and in early May when the buds in tight clusters, is optimum time. Sawflies and tent caterpillars attack in mid- to late-May, and need to be treated for. Toward the end of May, and again in the middle of June a fungicide will again keep scabs in check. Apple maggots strike in July and August, and should be sprayed roughly every two weeks.
Pear Trees Need Spray Too
Though not as "high maintenance" as an apple tree, pears nonetheless need to be sprayed regularly to stop scabs, aphids, leaf spot and codling moths. The first session should be in mid- to late-April, followed by subsequent sprayings in early May, mid-May to early June, mid- to late June, and specifically for codling moths in mid-July and mid-August.
Plum Trees Face Brown Rot
Brown rot is one of the most notorious enemies of plum trees. It strikes during a tree's blossoming stage, and the damage can be extensive. It can also be a problem right before harvesting. The disease appears as a lesion, and as it progresses, grey fungi spores appear. It can also harm other fruit trees. Fruit with brown rot should be discarded immediately. Plum trees also fall victim to leaf spot and mites. A spraying schedule runs from ever four to six weeks from mid-May to early-July, with additional treatments in mid-August to early-September when the fruit is ripening.
Read the Labels
As growing times vary based on the regions the trees are planted in, it is important to read the labels of any sprays. Wind conditions are also important. Do not spray on blustery days, as the wind will carry the pesticides elsewhere. Calm days will keep the spray pesticides on the tree where they belong.