End of winter treatment for old established fruit trees. What to do?

The house that we moved into last year had two older apples trees, a plum tree and two peach trees.

The apples seemed to have all kinds of issues, which I am still trying to get a handle on.

The plum and peaches I believe have Oriental Fruit Moth or Plum Curculio. I didn’t know what it was, but you all on this fruit forum helped me to figure that out. Thank you!

I would like to see if I can get on top of these issues for two reasons. I would like to get some decent fruit out of them this year, and I also very much want to stop the same issues from occuring in the young fruit trees I planted and plan to plant.

It is now the end of February, my question is this. Is there any spraying or things I should be doing now prior to spring buds and flowers opening?

I live in central Kentucky. I know I haven’t given you much information about the apple trees, but just imagine all the usuals for apple trees in the midwest.

Thank you in advance for your help!

John in Lancaster, KY

Now is the time to prune the trees, apply dormant oil, apply copper sprays, and then fertilize them.


Pay close attention to all of page 46 Seasonal “at a glance” disease control schedule options for stone fruit

Be sure to read the footnotes. In my experience Sulfur sprays are the best way to control powdery mildew (white spots on peaches).

If you want to keep things simple figure out how prune the trees then get some dormant oil or Neem oil and fruit tree spray with Captan, Malathion and Carbaryl. Apply the products per the label. since apples bloom later than peaches, be sure not to kill the pollinators on the apple trees while you are protecting the peaches.

Before bud break, it is important to do diseases prevention spray. Such as lime sulphur, copper, dormant oil spray… after petals fall, when bees aren’t interested in the flowers, then spray the pesticides. Careful not dripping pesticide on other flowers that bees might collect nectar.

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East of the Rockies. We don’t need more lime out west.

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Thank you for your quick responses! Any reccomendations on brands of dormant oil, and copper? Do these products last for years? In other words, should I buy in bulk? Is Horticultural oil the same as Neem Oil? Do I put the oil and copper on apples, peaches, pears and plums? Or just some of these types of fruit trees?

Thank you for your support!
John in Lancaster, KY

Kocide 3000 is water-soluble copper hydroxide powder. IF you double bag it (the Kocide bag, in a larger ziplock, both in another large ziplock) it will last a decade in my experience and probably much longer. The reason for the double bagging is to keep the powder from getting into everything else – and of course keeping water out. You will need personal protective garments for it – goggles, gloves, long sleeve button-up, pants and boots.

Nota bene: This advice is for apples.

Well, if you have no experience with these trees, you can’t go wrong with a dormant oil spray.

I’ve never noticed horticultural oil separating in storage. My mentor says, “Apply dormant oil for aphids, scale, and mites as needed above 40° before silver tip.” Dormant oil smothers insects that are coming out of hibernation, hence the instruction to wait for “warmer” temperatures. Follow label directions and avoid applying when too warm. It may, then, evaporate too quickly without doing any good.

You may wish to lay in a supply of captan, too.

The dry stuff (wettable powder, WP) should have an indefinite shelf life. Captan is a fungicide that prevents spotting of the leaves and fruit. It is time tested, so you need to watch out for fungal resistance to it in your area. My mentor says, “Apply fungal spray Captan at silver tip.” Later cover-spray applications may include it (up to three times per season). Things will look a lot better than without it. Just don’t tank mix sulfur compounds (like captan) with dormant oil sprays.

Thank you everyone for your input. Wow, so much to think about.

Today I noticed that a couple of my peach buds are getting close to opening, so I stopped at a Tractor Supply store, and was able to get Copper Fungicide and Neem Oil. They didn’t have “Horticultural Oil”

Will this work ok, or should I hold off and try to get Horticutural oil??? Are the two oils one and the same?

I also ordered myself a new garden sprayer, so I would like to start tomorrow to get this done.

Can I mix the copper with the oil, and spray them on at the same time??

Thank you as always!

John in Kentucky

You don’t need to buy “horticutural oil”, just mix 2 tablespoons of cheapest soybean oil, one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of dish soap per one gallon of water. Mix well. That’s your dormant oil.

Yes, this is the standard approach, copper plus dormant oil.


You might find this useful:


It’s from the forum’s reference section (which I need to remember to use more!)


Here is a list of everything in my garden, and those soon to arrive in the mail.

I am in central KY, Zone 6B. Somewhat hot and humid summers.

Should I use the Horticulture Oil & Copper Fungiside mix on everthing, or should is it bad and to be avoided on some of these?

Asian Pears
Lilac (my lilacs got covered with some white powerd last year, my first year in this new property.
Asian Persimon
Japanese Flowering Apricot/Plum/ Ume/Mume

I tried two supermarkets but couln’t find soybean oil. Can I use some other oil in this Horticuluture Oil recipe?

I do have some Neem Oil also.


Any refined vegetable oil should work for dormant. I said soybean because it’s usually the cheapest one. Neem oil is good but expensive. It can be used during the growing season as well, so I would keep it for these applications and use something cheap for dormant.

So, I can just use whatever oil we have in the kitchen then? Corn oil, olive, Vegetable, etc?

Can you please give me amounts per gallon on the copper? My copper fungicde directions say .5 ounces to 2.0 ounces per gallon. That is a big difference to me.

I follow Alan’s spray schedule. I do not spray anything until spring when leaf buds start to open.

Yes, any refined vegetable oil should work. Olive oil is usually unrefined (not sure which one you have) so I wouldn’t use that.

Different copper products have different concentrations of metallic copper, so I can’t give you an amount. You should do what the label says. If a label has a range, use a middle value.

Thank you Stan and everyone for your support! Today I saw that the flowers on one of my plums are already opening! So, I know I am getting a late start, and otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do this right this year, and I really wanted to get off to a good start for once. So thank all of you for helping me.

John in Lancaster, KY

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A few years ago,when making some dormant oil for the first time,I went to a number of different stores,looking for Soybean oil,without finding any.Then,for some reason,upon checking a common vegetable oil bottle’s ingredients,there it was,Soybean oil.
I was probably too interested in seeing the name on the front label and may have skipped over it a number of times.
Like Stan wrote though,just about any vegetable oil should do the job.One of my concoctions probably used Canola.
Mine is for Curly Leaf Plum Aphids,which overwinter in the bark crevices.


Thanks Brady and Stan for your response. I went to Wallmart and Kroger looking for Soybean Oil, and looked through all the shelves at about 20 different kinds of oils, none of which was Soybean Oil.

So, corn, canola, vegetable oil, any of these will do??

John in KY

Lots of supermarket oil is soybean, sold as “vegetable”. May also be cottonseed or a blend.