Fertilizer and pest control

Hi all. I am a newbie here. I just planted my bare root apple and peach trees purchases from Stark Bros. I am an avid gardener but know nothing about fruit trees. When do I fertilize and spray and what fertilizers and sprays do I use. Thanks.

Well in the beginning you probably want to stay away from fertilizer the first year as the tree get used to the native soil they are planted in. Then only after you have your soil tested to see what it is lacking. Or you can take a more organic approach and just use compost and mulch to keep the trees happy. As far as pest control that is something you will need to see what pests show up after a season. First year just make the tree comfortable and as stress free as possible, which means keep it watered during dry weather.


Since you purchased from StarkBros they have a pretty good “getting started” guide for apples:

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Thank you John_T. I am aiming for organic. I have composting worms. Will worm castings be to strong at this point?

Thank you. I will check that out.

Non-fruiting apples (juvenile trees) probably need a little 10-10-10 fertilizer. Sorry if that’s not organic. A double handful scattered around each as a top dressing before they break dormancy ought to do the trick. They don’t need a lot.

Consider top dressing with gypsum, too. It’s a little hard to find. This treatment has an extremely long-release time (approaching a decade). Apples need calcium (Ca) for fruit quality, and its difficult for them to get it from most soil types.

You may wish to apply fungicides (after warm rains) even to non-fruiting trees to avoid the build-up of spores around them. IMNSHO this is practically necessary for fruiting trees to achieve a crop. The main threat is scab. Others will chime in about organic approaches, but good old Captan still works for me. I switch to Immunox (Myclobutanil) in late season to avoid building tolerance for Captan.

Starting second year, I recommend dormant oil on the last warm day before the trees break dormancy. This is a lightweight horticultural petroleum-in-water suspension that acts by smothering insects when they are first becoming active. The trick is that the day has to be warm enough but not too warm (between 50°F and 70°F) so that the oil lasts a couple of hours before it evaporates.

Fruiting trees don’t need much fertilizer at all, but I put a little water-soluable household plant food in the tank mix with my cover sprays, anyway. I do have some split fruit, however, from time to time, so I may be overdoing it.

On the first warm night after petal fall, I nuke the plum curculios with a little PyGanic (Pyrethrin), which curiously IS organic. It doesn’t last, but it doesn’t have to.

I hang a red Christmas ornament doped with Tanglefoot (an insect adhesive) in every other tree. For me this seems to trap out the apple maggots.

About all that is left to do is worry about codling moths. This is my obsession. Whatever I do to the codling moths seems to take card of other insect pests, too.

Other things I put in the tank mix with cover sprays for codling moths include: foliar calcium, sticker spreaders, and Surround (kaolin clay), which is an insect repellant.

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You’re going to get many opinions, so best do your own research. As far as pests and staying organic, that will be your challenge. Look into Kaolin clay spray products.
Here is some info. I can’t help much as I don’t grow organic, it’s too hard to do here. I don’t have the time. It would be useful to know where you are. Helps if you put that info in your profile. It helps us see what problems you may face in your area. Bugs are a huge problem, fungi even more so. Well unless in CA where some fungi do not thrive, and insect pressure is a lot different.