Any Massachusetts growers planning on doing dormant oil right now for apples?

I’ve been a bit out of the studying game for too long, trying to get back in once again has my head spinning with options.

Last year I had the best success yet with the sprays I used and I’m planning to mostly repeat them. However, I did have HUGE issues with mites (spider mites specifically).

I think my area in general must be lousy with them because I had them all over my basil as well, no matter where I bought the basil from. It may be something I can’t prevent with a spray and I’ll just have to counter it as it happens.

Anyway, last winter I mixed copper fungicide with neem oil for my “dormant” spray. I think maybe I didn’t get good enough coverage because I got mites all the same. This year I’m thinking of maybe JUST spraying with neem oil and holding the copper until early spring.

The next 2 days will be in the 40s with no rain, so if I wanted to mix again now might be the perfect time. Does anyone have advice?

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I’m a relative novice but I’ve had good success with dormant oil in the past. I don’t see any reason to rush it, and I prefer to apply the oil after I’m done pruning. I plan to prune over the next 3-4 weeks, so I’m thinking of spraying in mid-March.

Note that I do not use neem oil. I use a mild mineral oil from Bonide. The point is not to poison the bugs but to suffocate the eggs.

I do a separate spray of copper sulfate before bud break.

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Dormant sprays are most effective when they are closest to things waking up… the nasties are starting to wake up a bit, and are more vulnerable to sprays than when fully dormant for winter. Look up “delayed dormant”, that is the term for a late dormant spray. I do mine as late as I can always.

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Would it hurt to do it twice? Dormant now and then dormant plus either copper or sulfur before the bud break? Any disadvantages to that other than the added time and cost?


I feel like I’ve heard of people doing it twice. Though I think its usually November and then March, but again, unsure


Yes, I’m sure some growers use dormant oil repeatedly. Mild oils can be used even after petal drop, during the growing season.


What pests are you gunning for with oil? Both mites and scale are most vulnerable AFTER first growth. I used to know whether it was scale or mites that were most vulnerable at half inch green and which around tight cluster, but memory fails me now.

Usually oil is most affective at killing pests shortly after they are born, not when adults are hibernating. When applying pesticides it is important to know what you are gunning for and when they are most vulnerable- a lot of people apply oil just because they like the idea of it smothering rather than poisoning, but it is a killer of more than pests and should be applied based on pest pressure and not used as a kind of all purpose vitamin pill.

Thats what I meant, as late as possible. By waking up I meant fully awake, perhaps not the best choice of words.

I usually spray apples at tight cluster or thereabouts. For stone fruits I spray at pink.

I used to be afraid to spray at pink and it’s good of you to mention it as the literature doesn’t really cover it. You can even spray apples after they have started to show some color but aren’t open yet. Could be and advantage if you managed to kill a few of the flowers.

oil can help lime sulfur penetrate better. that’s all I use it for (booster for fungus control) because we don’t really have insect problems here

label for my lime sulfur, note on combo with oil is on page 30