Early-Spring and General Spray Questions for 4-yr old Maryland Orchard

Hi all,

I planted the following fruit trees in Spring 2012 in my Southern Maryland yard and although the pollination seems to be working great, I think I need to start spraying right away for what I think is Black Spot on pears, possibly Bacterial Spot or Coryneum Blight on the apricot (I think the leaves looked scraggly from shothole and that tree dropped its leaves before the other fruit trees - so bottom line I want to hit it with a good fungicide), and bugs (Castleton Euro plum gets aphids bad every year before the lady bug arvae demolish them and Japanese Beetles were awful in 2013):

  • Apricot - Tomcot (citation rootstock)

  • J. Plums - Methley, Satsuma, Shiro

  • E. Plum - Castleton (least vigorous of all my trees, even on Myro rootstock . . .)

  • Plumcot - Spring Satin

  • E. Pears - Potomac, Blake’s Pride, Seckel

  • A. Pears - 2, can’t recall the varieties but they are from Edible Landscaping

*I don’t grow any apples, cherries, or peaches.

I just looked at my trees yesterday night and although the buds are clearly visible, I didn’t see any green yet so I’m guessing they are in the pre-bud-break stage at the moment. And it is going to be pretty cold this week (lows in the teens and highs in the 20s) so I should have a little time until bud break.

From reading a bunch of old Gardenweb threads where Scott was a major contributor (e.g., http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/1449914/my-orchard-calendar?n=16), it seems that I should:

  • Apply dormant oil spray very soon for bug control.

  • Apply copper + nuFilm17 sticker solution (or can I just add the copper to the dormant oil??) to all stone fruits since it is more effective against Coryneum Blight and bacterial spot than lime-sulphur spray. [Please let me know if you would recommend a different approach based on updated knowledge . . . some of the threads I was reading were three or more yrs. old.]

Question #1: Would the copper + nuFilm17 sticker solution (or copper and dormant oil solution) be effective on the pears against black spot as well??

General Newbie Spray Questions:

Question #2: Does it matter what brand of copper spray I use?

Question #3: Anyone have a small sprayer they love they would recommend? I need to pick one up.

Thank you in advance for your input! I am making my own custom orcharding guide by printing out these threads . . . just read the threads here titled “Dormant Oil Question” on soybean oil usage and “First Time to Use Dormant Oil/Copper.” Trying to do my homework to cut down on newbie questions :).


Here’s something that won’t be a great guideline for you because we have a somewhat different pest complex in the SE NY area, but it should be of interest.

This is something we may want to archive along with Scott’s spray “schedule”


Low Spray Schedule for Home Orchards in the Northeast

Here’s my spray schedule for the scores of orchards I manage around SE NY adapted for home owners managing a few fruit trees. It has functioned well for me for over 2 decades, although J. Beetles and brown rot of stone fruit increases the number of sprays and necessary pesticides some years some sites. Stink bugs are also an increasing problem requiring more subsequent sprays when they appear. Time of spray is based on apple bloom as that is the predominant fruit here but I generally get away with spraying all trees at the time I spray apples.

Please note that pesticide labels must be read before their use and my recommendations do not override the rules on the label. The label is the law. This document only communicates what has worked for me and your results may vary depending on local pest pressure, which may require a different spray schedule.

Spray needs to be applied thoroughly throughout the trees and with a back pack or any human powered sprayer this is more easily accomplished in the morning before breezes usually pick up.

Dormant oil (this is optional if there were no mites or scale issues the previous season, which is usually the case in home orchards). Do oil spray from when emerging green shoots are 1/2" to just before the flower clusters begin to show a lot of pink. Mix Immunox (myclobutinol) at highest legal rate (listed on label for controlling scab and cedar apple rust on apple trees) with 1 to 2% oil( 1 to 2 quarts per 25 gallons of water). If it’s closer to pink use 1%. Never spray oil on open or almost open flowers.

Don’t spray again until petal fall when petals have mostly gone from latest flowering varieties and bees have lost interest. Then spray Triazide (Spectracide Once and Done) + Immunox mixed together at highest legal rates. Repeat once in 10 to 14 days.

Where I manage orchards, the space between earliest flowering Japanese plums and latest flowering apples is only 2 weeks or so which usually allows me to wait until the latest flowering trees are ready to begin spraying anything. Plum curculio seems to time its appearance conveniently to the rhythm of the last flowering apple varieties. This may not be true where you are.

If plums or peaches need oil they may need application before apples. I’ve only had mites on European plums here and never need oil for other stone fruit.

All this is based on plum curculio being your primary insect problem which is the case most areas east of the Mis. River. These sprays will also absolutely control scab, CAR and Mildew as well as most of the crop fatal insects. Apple fly maggot is an exception as it tends to emerge a couple of weeks after last spray looses effectiveness, but I haven’t had much of a problem with this pest in the orchards I manage. This pest can be controlled with a lot of fake apples smeared with tangle trap.

If you don’t want to use synthetic chemicals try 4 applications of Surround about a week apart starting at petal fall. You may need to start on earlier flowering varieties as soon as they drop petals because Surround is a repellent and can’t kill eggs after they’ve been inserted into the fruit. When temperatures permit it is good to mix horticultural oil with 2 or those applications as Surround makes a nice home for mites and scale.

Stone fruit may require the addition of an application or 2 of Indar (Monterey Fungus Fighter is closest available chemical for home growers) starting 4 weeks before first peaches ripen. Apricots must be sprayed sooner if they are scab susceptible with same compound. On some sites that single spray will also prevent serious rot on later ripening varieties on seasons not particularly wet. If it is wet spray the later varieties again two weeks later.

Because I manage so many orchards so far apart I have to resort to a spray schedule that is based on expectations rather than actual monitoring. You may be able to reduce insecticide sprays with monitoring but PC can enter an orchard overnight and if your insecticide lacks kick-back (as is the case with Triazide), do a lot of damage in a couple of days.

Other problems may occur later in the season and you will in time learn to monitor and react to the pitfalls.

Good luck, Alan Haigh- The Home Orchard and Nursery Co.

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Welcome aboard!

Nearly all the black spotting I have found on my pears is from pear psylla, a very common pest. The spots start out pink but turn black later. The second most common is pear scab. I would spend some time looking at pictures online of these and other pear leaf issues to see if you can corner what your problem is to get it the right treatment.

Note you can spray copper and oil together, that is my standard dormant spray. I would wait until the buds start to swell, the later you do it the more baddies you will kill. Just don’t wait until leaves are coming out!

Not much. I prefer Kocide 3000 because it needs less copper for the same effectiveness due to how it is formulated.

If you have the money I would get a backpack sprayer from a good brand such as Solo. Even if you are only spraying a couple gallons they are much easier to use.


How often can I spray the Triazide and Immunox or is it every 10 to 14 days?

There is no universal recipe for pest control, but there is help in knowing what your are dealing with regionally. Immunox applications generally are not needed beyond a couple weeks after petal fall because scab and cedar apple rust pressure should be over by the time the first cover spray (10-14 days after petal fall) loses its power.

The triazide sprays may or may not be needed after this time depending on where you are and what your pests are.

I have over $1,000 invested in various back pack sprayers that sit in my basement- Birchmeyer, Solo and others, and they all pretty much suck IMO. The pump designs are not very efficient and pressure insufficient. The pump handles are always getting in the way and carrying them on ones back is awkward.

I recently bought an SP Systems “Industrial Construction 20C” sprayer. It is just a simple 2 gallon sprayer that holds the pressure in the tank but is a strong, powerful and relatively pricey version of this design. I really get trees covered more quickly with it than any back pack sprayer and with more comfort just carrying it with my hand.

Although there has been quite a bit of discussion about backpack sprayers on the old forum, there hasn’t been much discussion about hand held sprayers, so I thought Alan’s comment interesting.

I’ve got a couple backpack sprayers (SP and Solo) but have owned a few more hand held sprayers. To me, the main disadvantage of hand held is they don’t hold as much as a backpack, and I hate refilling. It takes a lot of time to go back to the water source and remeasure everything out. Sometimes I mix a lot of things in the tank (citric acid, spreader sticker, insecticide, fungicide) and it can take a while to measure it. Still, for small treatments, a hand held pump up is very convenient and useful for me.

I’ve not used the hand sprayer Alan mentioned, but I’m not surprised it’s a good quality sprayer. The quality of my SP backpack is very good.

One thing I don’t like about their hand held design is that the top is “funneled” and the actual pump fits down inside the funnel. This funnel design makes it easy to pour things into it, but the drawback is that when you remove the pump, any trash trapped by the funnel falls into the tank. Of course one can rinse the tank out, but I don’t like to have to do that if I’m spraying the same thing the next time. Another disadvantage of the funnel design is that I sometimes unscrew the pump without releasing the pressure in the tank. With the funnel design, it sprays a pesticide fog in your face. I much prefer a hand pump design where the pump screws over the tank top, not inside a funnel. Something like this:


I’ve only owned the cheap hand held pump up sprayers, but the pumps on those are all based off the same design. Simple plunger with a cheap rubber check valve (i.e. rubber flapper) at the end of the pump.

The pumps on all these hand held sprayers do occasionally get seeds and debris down inside them because the debris falls down inside the pump from the top (where the handle is). The debris goes down through the hole where the pump plunger rod goes. It makes its way past the plunger seals and ends up on top of the rubber check valve at the bottom of the pump. From this point, it either gets caught in the check valve, which causes liquid to come back up into the pump cavity (or perhaps even out the top where the pump handle is) or gets forced past the check valve into the bottom of the tank. If the debris ends up caught in the rubber check valve of the pump, it’s easy to remove the trash by popping the check valve/flapper off, pulling the pump plunger out and rinsing the whole thing out.

If the debris finds itself in the bottom of the tank, it’s important to rinse the tank out when it’s empty rather than let the debris find it’s way to the end of the spray nozzle where it will clog up the tip (we all know what fun it is to try to clean out the tips of wand sprayers in the middle of the orchard.) Overall, its best to try to be careful to keep stuff from falling in the hole at the top of the pump.

Occasionally the plunger seals were wear out on these pumps. When that happens and they no longer pump air, I remove the plunger and coat the plunger seal with a small amount of silicone grease. I use silicone grease because occasionally regular automotive grease will eat some rubber seals. After applying a light coat of grease to the plunger seal, the pump will continue working for a long time before having to grease it again. This treatment also works for the rubber check valve if it gets old and no longer seals.

For me a 2 gal. hand held is the limit. I’ve got a 3 gal. and it’s just a little to heavy to lug around. I use my hand held sprayers mostly for spot spraying weeds, or to spray a few vegetables. Of course I don’t use the same sprayers for herbicides and insecticides/fungicides. I write their use on them with a black marker, that way they don’t get mixed up.

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Alan, how long do you go between pumps on that sprayer? All my small sprayers I need to pump after about 30 seconds of spraying. Thats the main reason why I almost never use them. Also you have to carry them with one hand; do you use a shoulder strap with that 2-gal?

So, make all the mix you need and store it 5 gallon buckets or old 2.5 gallon oil jugs.

Scott, I haven’t timed it, but I’d say at least 5 minutes between pumping. I pump it 3 times to spray 2 gallons.

Olpea, I’ve never had any problems of debris clogging any sprayer, beyond having to clean a filter. This one has a filter in the wand.

That is a good feature. Mine clog up the worst when I carry them in the field to spray thistles, seedling trees, etc. The seed/debris from tall grass falls in the top.

And here I was thinking a backpack sprayer would be the answer. Like Olpea…2 gal by hand is about it. It gets tiring lugging that around. I looked at the sprayer you mention and at $90 + $18.49 shipping that seems kinda steep. You get what appears to be a nicer hose, volume control, and a brass spray nozzle (which is a big deal I know), but outside of that it’s just another plastic sprayer.
The only problem I ever have is the plastic ears that lock in to allow you to lift the sprayer by the pump handle wear and break off. This leaves you now carrying the tank with an extended pump handle. It doesn’t appear as though this sprayer offers anything different in that department does it?

I think everything is sturdier than the cheaper versions and it can take more pressure. The pump produces more pressure in less time and holds more. But this is a comparison of sprayers purchased at least 10 years ago. Usually you get about what you pay for from these quality manufacturers. SP is a quality manufacturer. I think their backback sprayer is superior to Solo’s as well, but this is also based on long ago purchases.

My first backpack sprayer was an SP. At some point I “upgraded” to get 5 instead of 4 gals, but the Smiths and Solo 5-gal sprayers are not built as well as the SP. Last weekend I was epoxying together the wand extension on my Solo, I hit it once and the cheap threads got stripped and it leaked. The SP spray tip is also a big heavy piece of metal which lasts forever, compare that to the Solo tips made out of bendy plastic. Too bad SP doesn’t make a 5-gal (the Solo is in fact 5.5 gal).

My terrain is pretty rough. 4 gallons is all I want to carry on my back, but my use of manual sprayers is limited. 99% of my spraying is with a 4hp 300 PSI sprayer.

I also have a real crappy but expensive battery powered sprayer designed for greenhouses. A few weeks ago I was applying copper to peaches at a couple sites and it broke in a way not easily fixed. We used a Jacko backpack sprayer (nicely designed Brazilian tool) and the SP one I mentioned and the SP got things covered more quickly.

Is this the one you have H’man?

$147 incl. shipping from Amazon

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The SP backpack sprayer I have is 15 years old. If that’s the one that can get 150 PSI, yes.

Wallyworld has this one for less than half the price of the SP and with better reviews. The SP does appear to be slightly higher quality though.

$56 with free shipping Made in USA

It is 150 psi

I think I actually prefer the clear hose on the Chapin, but I doubt the material is as robust as the SP as in the photo it appears the SP hose is fiber reinforced. Vinyl hose is very cheap though and should be very easy to replace provided it’s not molded to the fittings.

Same Chapin sprayer on Ebay for $51.98 with free shipping

Anyone see any issue with this sprayer? I think I might give it a try. Reviews are very good everywhere I’ve looked that sells it.

The bottom link is actually as bonus pack that includes a dual boom sprayer attachment for spraying lawns I guess. Parts are available for this sprayer, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they cost as much as the sprayer itself.
I like that it’s made here and not in China.

You want to look at what pressure it can spray at. The SP ability to spray at 150 PSI is one feature that favors it. It also has a brass wand and nozzle. Another nice thing about them is the wide mouth for easy pouring in and out.

But if you are using a $1 pruning shear you better go with the Chapin. They actually make decent equipment in my experience. Buy at least a decent Felco knock-off for a pruning shear with the money you save and keep the change.