Alan Haigh- The Home Orchard and Nursery Co.
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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, mostly with pears, peaches and nectarines, 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.
If scab or cedar apple rust were not controlled the previous season this first spray can also be important, but can be applied even to open flowers if the oil is not included in the mix.
Psyla and pear blister mites can also be at least partially controlled with oil, but the mites have to be oiled before first growth of pears. For psyla, 2 oil sprays during pre-bloom may be employed using 3% oil at first growth and 2% at tight cluster, just as blooms first show any white.
Don’t spray again until petal fall when petals have mostly gone from latest flowering varieties and bees have lost interest. Then spray Triazicide (Spectracide Once and Done) + Immunox mixed together at highest legal rates. Repeat once in 10 to 14 days.
Triazicide at the highest rate should be effective against all major insect apple and other fruit pests if it is fresh enough. It rapidly begins losing potency and by the second year out of the factory this may become a problem- especially because it comes with no freshness code. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options for the small home grower. If you tighten the schedule to every seven days Sevin can work but may thin apples more than desired if there is not a heavy set.
Avaunt and Imidan (in states where it’s not restricted) can be purchased on-line and are both reliably effective against most common fruit pests. However, they are packaged in very large quantities, even considering that they probably remain effective for at least a decade if stored in a cool dry place. Imidan is difficult to mix and use as it is a fine powder packaged in water soluble bags meant to mix with 100 gallons at a time and thrown directly into the tank. Legally Avaunt can only be applied to commercial crops, so you have to plan to sell at least some of your fruit to legally use it.
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 and other pests seem to time their 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. (When I wrote this, peach scale had not yet appeared in some of the orchards I manage but is now sometimes a terrible pest on peaches, nects and plums. Cottony growths on the bark should be compared to photos of this pest. Oil helps (2% at first signs of growth) but a synthetic intervention may also be necessary as this scale can be fatal. Centaur works well but comes in pretty big packaging at high expense, not sure about home packaged products- scale can be tricky).
All this is based on plum curculio being your primary insect problem which is the case most areas east of the Mis. River. Further south there may be additional generations requiring another spray or two.
These sprays will also absolutely control scab, CAR and Mildew most seasons (at least the 3 spray version) 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. Oriental Fruit moth is a common pest that can also increase the number of required sprays as it appears throughout much of summer.
Coddling moth also may strike later but for most fruit the damage will likely be tolerable. Some small orchardists use mating disruption to get adequate control although common guidelines suggest it is only affective for large areas. I accept the damage because they tend to focus on just a few varieties, such as russet apples and Asian pears.
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. email@example.com