Hi All,

I have espaliers so this may be easier for me but probably very doable for all here.

I am experimenting with combining summer pruning with aphid control. If I am correct it will also control all other issues of insects that target new growth branch tips.

By now most of our trees have put on all the vegetative growth we want as evidenced by the extensive summer pruning that people here have started . So, instead of spraying anything I will be pruning off all of the new growth on all the tips. I would be doing this anyway to keep the espalier’s shape. But this is easily done for the non espaliers as well.

For most of us backyarders pruning out the target sites of the pests should take less time that mixing and spraying.

Does anyone see any pitfalls I missed?.


All we need is someone to run the test. You might be on to a good idea especially when the tree size is as big as you want it. I’m still getting most of the ones I have up to my desired size so I mostly take off the new tender sections to enhance the tree/limbs to grow where I want them. Good luck and let us know how well it works out. Bill

Ed Fackler used to say that once apple trees are established he considered aphids an ally by reducing rank growth and keeping trees more open. I only wonder if they don’t reduce brix in fruit as they do in vegetables. Of course in vegies they suck on the parts you eat.

As far as pruning them out, that is actually one suggested method of helping to control pear psyla (on pears, of course).

For non espaliers I wouldn’t mess with the pencils, only the larger water sprouts off of big wood. The pencils bring sugar to nearby fruit and form your replacement spurs on free standing trees. However, maybe you can develop your own technique of treating free standing trees like espaliers.

In a low spray program, lady beetles often control aphids if the ants don’t get into the picture.

The experiment starts today!

I was talking about just snipping off the new young tender leaves that are the pest targets as they come up, not the whole vertical shoot. If it needed further trimming for spur formation or removed entirely that could be done at dormant.

If a pencil was 12 -15 inches tall and we trim off the very top leaves it wouldn’t it still have the remaining leaves to feed?

All the aphid soaps say that they have to be re-applied in 5-7 days. If I have to be in the orchard every week I might as well just cut out the problem…cheaper too.

As to lady bugs with espaliers there are so many “highways” for the ants as each tree is connected by the trellis wire and the trellis posts in the ground and the support wires. it would take a huge effort to block each access the ants have.

Anyone have an anteater for sale?


I just noticed aphids today for the first time. They were only on the very tips of the newest growth on my 4x1. They were only on the tallest part of the tree on akane growth. I planned to do a bit of summer pruning anyway so I clipped the tips that had the aphids. I smashed them with my finger and it turned my thumb yellow/green


One way to be able to say that you have a green thumb.



What makes them so destructive is that they aren’t mining for carbos- it is protein the are going for and the sugar passes right through them onto the leaves, feeding fungus and sometimes wasps. Imagine how much energy they remove from a plant just to get some protein.

Mike, I used to do tip pruning on my plums, pruning off all the aphid infestations. I thought I won but when the new shoots came several weeks later they would attack them with a vengeance. Apples will be different, but on plums the best method I found was to just squish when there were too many, and let the ladybugs do the rest. On apples I nearly always get too little damage to matter, once the ladybugs and other predators kick in it all equalizes. But occasionally its a big problem on a few varieties.

How do the aphids actually get on the leaves? I have all my trees wrapped in tanglefoot and it’s done great keeping the ants off. Do aphids fly? Surely they can’t walk through tanglefoot.

There are winged forms that fly.


I know what you mean. Both the plums and apricots grow like weeds. Last year I had 15-20 inches of growth on the apricots AFTER a crew-cut in mid September and I am in zone 5b.

But remember, I have espaliers so I always have my pruners with me when I am in the orchard.

With the " open " architecture of the espalier trees it takes seconds to spot and snip new growth that needs to be trimmed. Sometimes I just pinch it of as it is so tender.

After a while it is almost done subconsciously as I walk past a tree checking it out.

Its like weeding… If you don’t let it get out of hand.



As I was reviewing my notes,I just realized that I never reported on my results with using pruning as an aphid control.

Last summer I wound up NOT having to spray for aphids at all. I just kept pinching off new growth as I was doing my walkabout in the orchard. I was doing it almost without thinking like an automatic reflex .

The only places that had any aphids were those few that I missed and those were easily dealt with using the squish method by just pressing and rubbing the few leaves between thumb and forefinger before snipping the shoot off. Green thumb with a new perspective.

NOTE… As I said earlier in the post, this is easier to do with an espalier planting because all the new growth is easily spotted and is in the open.

Sorry for the delayed report.


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Aphids are just a nuisance here for fruit trees. Once it climbs into the 90s they pretty much are gone!

Aphids bite if they drop onto you

Mike, thanks for the report. I used to do something similar with the plum aphids. It worked but the one tree that was getting them worst was getting really stunted from too much pruning and I had to stop. The plum aphids are crazy fast expanding so I don’t think its a good technique for them. I always use that on lower-down branches with rosy apple aphids, but other than that I just let them go and eventually there are enough ladybugs. My orchard is teeming with masses of ladybugs this spring, I have never seen so many.



Yup, but thankfully (for me at least) stunting is not an issue with espaliers. Once the scaffold arms are set stunting is not an issue.


Usually if I don’t spray them, the aphids and the hardening process brings control- but with nursery trees it means losing some valuable growth. With established trees I’m coming to the conclusion is it only a problem with some varieties of E. plums in that it takes enough vigor from trees that they fail to produce fruit reliably- but this is only an anecdotal observation. It is about controlling both aphids and leaf hoppers.

I get rid of the aphids as fast as possible now because they are stunting some of my young trees. Nice to know Scott that I can let up and let the LB take over at least as these trees get bigger. Bill