What does a year look like?

Winter is here. Time to plan for next year!

I’m curious what your orchard (especially at the backyard scale) maintenance schedule looks like, since this will be my first full year. When do you plant/fertilize/spray/prune, etc?

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Great post. I would also like to know what your spray schedules are. Thanks, Bill

For me all winter is orchard clean-up. Things get pretty beat up over the summer. I take down any lures or traps I put up, prune and train all trees, remove any plants I have decided is no good, relocate any trees I found a better spot for, stake up leaning trees, chop down raspberries, inspect plums carefully for black knots, remove any rotted fruits still hanging, dig up any seedling tree sprouts, make sure all fireblight removed, etc.

I am in zone 7 and can prune everything but the vines and persimmons at any point. For vines and persimmons there is winter dieback and I prefer to wait until March or so for them.

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This will be my first winter with fruit trees as well. I’m a bit overwhelmed and flustered about when I’m supposed to spray certain things. Even fertilize for that matter. I know I should spray dormant oil as some point this winter and again before bud break in spring. I’ve also read that I should add fertilizer as some point during the dormant period but there seems to be some conflicting info as to when this should occur. Even my planned pruning gives me anxiety. lol. I’ve read pages after pages of pruning advice for individual species and then I look at my trees and say to myself WTF? I have several young multi grafts and because of that I have to think twice before I clip something. I have a Combo cherry thats very lopsided with one side being super vigorous and the other not so much. I feel like I should’ve summer pruned some of my trees but I let them grow since they were young.

If your in an area that is dormant keep in mind fireblight is not active unless the tree is growing. So like Scott suggested now is a great time to prune off FB prior to spring. Paint trunks, fence them, wrap them etc and get ready for rodents. Make sure before spring you have your fungicide and insecticide organic or chemical ready to spray pre- bloom

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What about spraying copper?

Winter? It’s only Fall. Leaves are just now starting to change color and drop. The Fall garden goes in now. ‘Spanish Roja’ garlic is just now starting to sprout:

Here are some orchard maintenance and spray schedules I’ve saved from GW by Scott and Alan, hope they don’t mind me reposting them. I found them useful and saved them.

Scott’s Orchard Schedule: Orchard Schedule by scottfsmith on GW - Google Docs

Scott’s Spray Schedule: Spray schedule by harvestman on GW - Google Docs

Alan’s Home Spray Schedule: Low Spray Schedule by Alan Haigh - Google Docs


Amp, I don’t mind but should qualify that the orchard schedule there is only roughly what I do today. Also both spray schedules look like Alan’s. I don’t know if I ever posted a full spray schedule but I should at some point since its different than Alans without bug killers.

@mrsg47, I was only posting winter things and I view copper as the end of fall and the start of spring. I am only using spring copper these days, my bacterial spot is not particularly bad anywhere.


The hard part is when asked what to do it seems every tree makes me do something different. I realize if we spray fungicide maybe it got rid of scab but at that point do people understand the spray schedule, disease characteristics etc… There are general things to do like spray fungicide in the rainy season is a good idea. It does not account for those rainy springs when I don’t use captan because I need to respray in 7-10 days so I use something with a higher residual and is more like 2 weeks as a fungicide like immunox by spectricide. I should mention fungus needs moisture so what I just said does not apply to people in areas where it does not rain. Here is Kansas when it’s hot and dry I don’t spray fungicide in the droughts. We do Spray insecticide during coddling moth and fruit fly season. Let’s say at this point we are talking just about apples theoretically and maybe including pears and ignoring cherries, plums, peaches , apricots etc because their bacterial diseases are active in winter. The Fireblight bacterial disease in apples and pears is only active in the growing season. I was spraying antibiotics during bloom only since Fireblight is a bacteria but have decided for now to use copper pre growth in spring also. Keep in mind I left out in my spray schedule of apples and pears any type of dormant oils whereas someone else would have included those. In stone fruits I don’t have borers but many people do so they need to use extra spray. For coddling moth lets say I use something like once and done that works fine for me whereas Alan would use something commercial. More important when it comes to spray is the sprays don’t do any good unless the cultural orchard maintenance is done such as trimming off FB strikes 8" or so below the strike. If a person has black rot in grapes spraying fungicide only helps if you trim the canes , removed mummified berries, take up leaves, burn old branches, leaves , mummified berries. With our pears and apples we burn old Fireblight branches. So when I say spray insecticide and fungicide what I’m really thinking is that covers a lot of ground. Books such as the backyard orchardist by Stella Otto should be read in addition so if something like scab occurs we know why we are spraying fungicide. I think that book has been brought up a couple of times on this forum . It helps to know what to look for in case typical spray schedule needs to be modified slightly. I also would mention many people talk about spraying sulphur as an alternative spray so an organic grower will have a completely different approach.

For me I use it because I have strawberries that get gray mold, and it’s the only thing that works, so the trees get it too.

Not all, most powdery mildew likes dry conditions, why a wet oil works.

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Those are great points, I have never got powdery mildew here so i’m glad you brought that up. In Kansas this spring due to el nino we got to much rain at once so it was more monsoon than spring rain. Captan was ineffective here because it rained longer than the spray window of 7-10 days. We couldn’t spray in the rain or wet foliage. I definitely like captan as a spray and it’s a necessary part of my spray program since immunox cannot be sprayed all the time so I rotate my fungicides (immunox, captan , immunox, captan , immunox, captan). Some years my fungicide program is more like immunox, immunox, captan, captan, captan, immunox. Nice thing about captan as far as I know nothing builds a resistance.