Need Help on spraying fruit trees

Hi everybody I am new here and just recently getting an orchard started. I have never spayed any of my apple trees I always wanted to keep things organic but I am going to have to start. I am clueless about what to use. I want to use the least harmful stuff out there.

We need more info. Different regions have different pests and levels of pest pressure. Also useful to know varieties you are growing if we are only talking about apples.

Thanks for the reply I am growing several different types of apples, and some peaches, nectarines, and plums and am in N.C…

Scott is close enough to you to provide guidance on least toxic production. Rayrose as well.


Scott and Rayrose are indeed closest to you and perhaps the most qualified to answer your questions, but as your questions have gone unanswered so far, I’ll take a stab.

Assuming you are talking about a home orchard, your choices are going to be somewhat more limited.

Triazicide Once and Done liquid spray is probably your best bet for an insecticide. It’s fairly safe for people and pets. It breaks down fairly rapidly on the fruit. It is no longer toxic to pests after about 2 weeks and insect pests are much more sensitive to the active ingredient than a mammal, by many powers of ten (i.e. some compounds would be lethal to humans at 1000 times the lethal dose to the target insect-as a percentage of body weight, others would take 1,000,000 times the lethal dose to an insect, before being lethal to a human).

There was an experienced home grower who had some notoriety on fruit forums (named Jellyman) who used to (front load) his spray program with a compound in the same class as the one I just mentioned. By this, he could spray more heavily earlier in the season and insure there was ample time for the insecticide to break down so that virtually no residue remained on the fruit by the time of harvest. He indicated he got reasonable control with this program. I think this would be generally true for most climates.

If you used Triazicide through the plum curculio season, you could probably get by with maybe a couple more early sprays to take care of oriental fruit moth. You might even be able to skip the oriental fruit moth sprays if your local pest pressure isn’t too high.

Of course there are other alternatives like bagging fruit and perhaps mating disruption, again depending on your local pest pressure. Those may be an option for you depending on your goals.

Olpea - you are so kind. I am still learning about spraying program that will work best for different varieties of my trees.

Just want Orchardman to know that Scott Smith answered a similar question on this forum posted by Lindsgaren under the thread called Early Spring General Spray Questions…

Check it out esp. if you want to go an organic route. Scott is known for that.

That was a good call Mamuang. I should have included that in my post.

I thought I had posted this. It is not ideal for as far south as you are but it does contain some relavent info.


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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Thanks Olpea, Mamuang, and Alan. The region where I live has a lot of rainfall so fireblight is a huge problem here, so is cedar apple rust and japenese bettles and borers.


You’ve presented a wide range of problems with a wide range of remedies.

  1. Fireblight is spread by wet weather such as we’re having right now and the application of high nitrogen fertilizer, which encourages vegetative growth. First of all stay away from FB prone varieties and high nitrogen fertilizer, and that will go a long way toward solving your problem

  1. Your peaches, nectarines and plums, can all be sprayed with Triazicide as Olpea suggested. I prefer to use
    Ortho fruit and vegetable spray because of it’s kick back power. That means it can kill the small larva that are
    already in the fruit. I prefer to use Triazicide, when I spray for borers. I spray all 3 of these fruits once in August, which is the heighth
    of adult borer moth mating activity. It may vary in NC, so check with your extension agent, probably at NC State, as to when
    this happens in NC. I spray all 3 for PC just after shuck split(blooms start to fall) and once again after the fruit has formed.
    I’m a firm believer in maintaining orchard hygiene and less spraying. PC can go through 4-5 generations during the season,
    and if you’'ll keep fallen fruit off the ground, you can disrupt the generational cycle. The fallen fruit is usually infested with the PC
    larvae, which will bury itself in the ground and become adults. By picking up the fallen fruit on a daily basis, you won’t have
    a second or third or fourth generation to have to spray for. I don’t spray for OFM for apples, which bloom later than the other 3,
    because the spray application for PC also kills OFM. I also dormant spray all of my trees in January for any scale insects that
    might over winter in the trees.
    I know this is a lot to digest, but there is a method to the madness, and over time, you will devise the method that works for you.


Sorry for of the spacing, but it’s difficult to type, because the SAVE EDIT button hides what you’re typing. I hope this gets fixed soon.

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I forgot about cedar apple rust, which is caused by galls that grow on nearby cedar trees. If you’ll
dispose of all cedar trees that are near you, you can prevent cedar apple rust. I don’t have any cedar
trees near me, so I’ve never had it.

Thanks Ray I am a little overwhelmed right now I will have to learn slowly.

Don’t be.

It sounds alot worse than it sounds like.

Take a deep breath… hurry up and relax… its like the first time you … . and now its nothing.

A $19.00 pump sprayer, an $8.00 bottle of Immunox, a $9.00 bottle of Triazide (Spectracide Once and Done) and you will have fruit.

Just see the " Early-Spring and General Spray Question" ( 2 days ago) thread here and you will be set.

All the other stuff will fall into place.


Thanks Mike