Sunburn on apples in plastic ziplock sandwich bags

I started using modified plastic ziplock sandwich bags as a means of pest control on apples after reading a thread here. Although sunburn was mentioned there was not a lot of comment about it and it seemed to me that it was not regarded as an issue in areas where it is used.
However I am seeing evidence of it here in my subtropical climate. Being in the Southern Hemisphere my seasons are reversed from those in the US and we have just entered the last month of summer. I am not aware of what your weather Is like in your subtropics or in your apple belt during the winter last month of your summer but I am thinking that it may not be as scorching hot as you approach harvest.
Where sunburn is an issue are there other protective measures being used apart from pesticides or are there modifications in the use of the sandwich bags?
Any advice will be appreciated


Some folks, including myself, have used nylon socks. These are what I purchased.

They seem to work pretty good. I only lost one or two apples that I bagged to earwigs later in the summer. I did also spray surround and spinosad as a backup before I could get all my crop covered.

Nylon socks with Surround sprayed on them has reduced sunburn a lot for me. Just Surround by itself might do the same. Shade cloth is another option. Sunburn can be pretty bad here some yrs.

Can also use organza bags. Cheap and at the end of 1st season still look like new.

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@Levers101 I am able to get hold of “mini” socks as used under joggers. They are very thin and I am using them on my citrus. They don’t seem as large as yours. I have tried them on young apples about 1/2" dia but the bugs still get in through the neck… Shall have to see if I can do it better
@hungryfrozencanuck4b Is that codling moth? Doesn’t it make a mess of the fruit!
@fruitnut I am unfamiliar with Surround. Does it provide a physical barrier? Are you talking about the whole tree with shade cloth, shading the bags or localising the shade somehow? I have thought of applying a coat of white paint to the top of the bag but I don’t think it would last on plastic.

Won’t going to these extents to protect fruit and trees from sunburn cut down on what many people strive for in terms of opening up their tree to increase ventilation and allow the sun to color up the fruit? I often read that unpruned trees do not allow enough light in to ripen and blush the fruit. Many growers go to the extent of putting reflective film on the ground below their trees in order to get sunlight onto the bottom fruits.

It’s a white clay material that’s sprayed on the leaves and fruit mainly to reduce insect damage. But it also reflects light and heat from the fruit.

I’d be talking about putting shade cloth over the entire tree supported by by wires/poles. It’s a practice in some Australian orchards for hail protection, bird control, and other benefits.

In humid mild climates like WV you want more light into the canopy and on the fruit. In hot dry desert climates with intense sun all day all summer, shade cloth or a more dense canopy of leaves may be the best option. Apples aren’t native to those climates.

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Its a whole different world down here. You really have to see it to believe it. They effects of the sun are wicked at times. When I would over prune even my peaches in summer in Austin I would get sun burn on the wood! I think I remember Eric had similar experiences. Some of the apples I tried like Braeburn turn to mush in the Texas heat. Grape growers position shoots to provide some afternoon shade. You sort of have to throw out the playbook down here.


I’m not sure what you are asking. The Apple on the left is unprotected and obviously attacked by bugs. The Apple in the middle was protected by organza bag and thus has just some superficial cosmetic damage. The apples on the right were protected by Ziploc’s and in perfect condition. If you are having problems with the Ziploc’s acting like green houses then the organza bag could be an option. I believe my cost was less than $.10 per bag and as I said at the end of the season they still looked new so I will be using them again next year. You can read my original post where that photo came from for more details.

Just horning in a little here–The problem I would have with organza or ziploc is that they’re made out of synthetic materials (traditional organza is made from silk, modern cheap kinds are synthetic stuff). I’m kinda iffy on that because I know a lot of the chemicals leech a lot more in the sun and when it’s hot.

Any more “natural” alternatives for bagging? I’m thinking you could do something with thin white linen, but boy, making those bags would be a pain.

I have used nylon little socks for years, soaked and dried in Surround (T) and found it effective against coddling moth and sunburn. I live near desert, so the sun can be a problem. I buy online from the Home Orchard Society.
Last year I tried sandwich size ziplocks, because someone said it was inexpensive and easy. Sunburn, rain caught inside and pulled fruit off tree, earwigs camped within and chewing big excavations in fruit, difficulty in stapling bags tightly in order to stay in place, were all reasons I decided it was no cost savings by comparison.
Nylon socks are so effective against sunburn I remove them a couple weeks before fully ripe in order to gain more color!

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You have to snip the corners of the bags so the rain will run out. I punch the center of the zipper with a paper punch where the apple stem goes. I don’t use any staples. The ones that fall usually have an applet in them, so it wasn’t due to not being stapled. Probably a PC in it or June drop.


Agreed. I used them very successfully here in Northern VA. Bagged 900 and only lost about 30 or so to early dropping or deer trying to get at them. I ate two today from the fridge that I stored still in the ziplocs–one Jonathan and one Golden Delicious–and they were perfect. Who knew that a Golden Delicious could be stored for 4-5 months and come out superb, infinitely better than the pseudo Golden Delicious apples sold at the grocery stores?

Back to OP, I suspect climate zone plays a large role.

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@speedster1 I have used the principle of opening up the centre of my stone fruit trees for many years as sunburn isn’t a problem when they ripen late spring, early summer. It is with fruit maturing late summer after some months of searing heat and high humidity that sunburn becomes a real issue. This at a time of high pest I pressure meaning it’s a double whammy. So what you do has to cover for thetwo situations, pest control and the sun in the single operation. The plastic bags did seem to be the answer but I think I will go back to the socks and pay more attention to their application.
@hungryfrozencanuck4b I understand your point is the comparison of protection given by the three media. What I was commenting on was the damage on the left apple, was it codling moth? Our fruit fly seem able to pierce the organza fabric when they lay and the maggots destroy the fruit.
Thanks for the other responses. They all helped to get my mind focused.


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Northwoodswis4: This compels me to ask: Do you find the application of sandwich bags, with a hole punched in the closure and snipped at a corner, still effective against codling moth? I have no PC here and sawfly is rare.

They work well for codling moth. The PC is my main issue, since they come before I can bag, so I spray Surround at petal fall, but it is only partly effective, especially in rainy weather.

I didn’t have any issues with sunburn using bags for the first time last year, but I did find that the moisture inside the bag attracted earwigs which I think were the cause of some defacing/cracking on some of the apples. I found the little scamps in the bag with the affected apple. . .

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I found plenty of earwigs tunnelling into apples as I picked, and removed plastic bags. The incidence of this sort of thing with nylon sockets over the course of six years was a tithe of what was found last year, I’ll be contacting Home Orchard Society for sockets again.

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VSOP: Some people (maybe many) staple paper bags around their apples, either brown or white. They seem to hang on through a season. Here we get so much wind in spring I expect they would pull applets off the tree. Wind pulled about 1/5 the fruit off this last spring when I tried sandwich bags.

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Can peaches and nectarine be bagged? Only they are very close to the branches, hardly any stems. I am afraid if I bag them the fruits would fall off. thx!

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