My biggest fruit losses the past two years:
1 Asian plums, birds got a lot of them. Maybe half, or more than half.
2. Peaches - leaf curl, birds. Birds got about half of the curl-free peaches. That tree is in the chicken yard, and I even saw a hen up in the tree eating one.
3. No bird losses for blueberries or cherries this year, I used scare tape. A lot of it. It worked very well.
4. Figs - last year, yellow jackets got them all. This year it was weather.
5. Apples - yellow jackets, then birds. Some were lost to sunburn. Also biennial bearing because of inadequate thinning on my part, and overbearing which caused small bad late fruits on two trees. There were some coddling moth worms, mainly on Jonagold for some reason.
I wish I could train the birds to eat yellow jackets.
Yellow jackets bite into the fruits then eat them from the inside out. It’s mostly apples and figs. Once they settle on a type of fruit, their destruction is like a plague.
So, I need to make some changes. The trees need to be short enough to prune, spray, thin, and / or bag but tall enough to protect from deer, or in deer fences / cages. Most are in cages right now, but those take a lot of effort to maintain. During the next few years, I’m changing to a fenced garden that I hope they can’t get in (7 feet tall- I cant go taller due to county regulations), with miniature or espalier trees. Then I can thin, spray if needed, bag fruits if needed. No ladders for me, I can’t any more. I also cant haul a big sprayer around but can probably do an oil spray for some trees and surfound for some.
In the past, my apples in ziplock bags were ruined, despite cutting off corners. They sunburned, got moldy or mildew, and some rotted in the bags. I assume the difference from some here is local conditions. I was really hoping that would work.
I don’t think curculio is an issue here. So, I was thinking organza or mesh bags, if they help with coddling moths, and maybe yellow jackets? I don’t see that mentioned here (might have missed - this topic is a wealth of knowledge, thanks!). Maybe for blue jays too? They only go after the red apples and red or blue plums.
The sooty blotch thing is a concern. I don’t want that, so if the organza causes that and I have to spray for that, would it be better not to bag, and use surround instead? I don’t use insecticides at all. Im open to neem if that helps.
I might add scare tape for apples and plums next year. It was the biggest help this year for bird protection.