What's the minimal spray program for Apple?

My neighbor’s Apple tree has not been pruned or sprayed for ages. But I made delicious hard cide with the apple. The fruits were disfigured and covered with black fungus, I suspect it is sooty blotch. The tree is at between the house and other trees, so the ventilation is not very good.

It takes a lot of scrubbing in dish soap water to get rid of black fungus, the soapy water turned black.

My question is what is the minimum spray I can do to control the sooty Bloch? I don’t know anything about Apple tree, just want to do enough to control the black fungus. I can live with the disfigured apple fruits. My neighbor, of course, doesn’t mind me spraying at all.

By the way, I discovered that the hard cide I made tastes just like the Angry Orchard crisp apple hard cider. It’s a shame that most of apples just go wasted.

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Since both are fungal diseases so you need fungicide. I guess something like Immunox or Captan would work. Timing is important. Check out this Cornell fact sheet. Your neighbor may allow you to prune the tree to increase air circulation and probably result in fewer spray.

By the way, aren’t you afraid of there are worms in those apples? (my fear). Maybe, it’s your secret ingredient of your hard cider :slight_smile:

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Mamuang, thanks for the reply! I will look up the link you gave here.

Sure, my neighbor wouldn’t mind I prune it, or tell her how and she would have someone to prune it. But the tree is very tall already and have many branches, I would imagine it will take a lot of effort to prune it.

Believe it or not, there was no worm in the apples, not a single one! I don’t know what caused the scars and disfiguration, they looked pretty bad, but most of scars are superficial, I just cut them out. That’s why I can live with it:smile:

It’s scrubbing the fungus that was killing me. But the juice tasted really good. My 9 year old nephew had a glass and said “it has lots of favors, I am not used to it.”:laughing:

That’s part of the adventure!

So, no extra protein?!!

Disfiguration could be caused by a few things including catfacing insects and bitter pit condition.

When I have the right apples for hard cider, I’ll ask you for the recipe.

Sooty blotch pressure goes on for an extended period. If you make four or five Captan apps bi-weekly starting in July it may control it. I use different materials (expensive in commercial quantity) and have had good results while ignoring Cornell’s insistence that it has to be controlled from June until just before harvest.

However, the location of the tree might make it inadequate. At least it should be summer pruned to improve ventilation.

Mamuang, no extra protein needed😊
my brewing method was very simple: get the juice first, kill the wild yeast with campden tablet, add pectin enzyme, then use beer yeast to ferment in low temperature (50s). The flavor is all due to the apple, I think. I will be more than happy to give you the details when you need it.

Alan, thanks for your recommendation. Captan every 2 weeks from July to harvest is a lot of straying, and this may not be enough!? Are there other more potent fungicide available to home growers?

By the way, I’ve heard baking soda is helpful when scrubbing sooty blotch from apples.

Thanks, Alan! I will definitely try the baking soda this year.

Sara, it would be a lot easier on you to avoid it in the first place. Sulfur will, if applied regularly and maintained, stop sooty blotch, but as Alan said, it also may prove inadequate in areas of poor ventilation. Sulfur is not really recommended for SB or FS in efficacy charts, though lime-sulfur sometimes is.
Captan, no doubt would be a better choice and would have many other benefits as well. Both are widely considered to be very safe and eco-friendly, comparatively speaking of course.

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Some reading on the subject :

Because both diseases are so dependent on long periods of extreme humidity around the fruit, annual pruning to open tree canopies and promote air circulation will minimize the periods favorable for their development. Supplemental summer pruning in dense-canopied trees can provide significant additional benfits in some years. Proper fruit thinning is also important for reducing the development of high-humidity microclimates around clustered fruit; like good pruning, thinning will furthermore improve the spray coverage for any fungicides that may be applied. Mowing of grass middles and good within-row weed control will provide additional help in reducing overall humidity levels within orchards during the summer.

Appleseed, thank you for your advice! I will definitely spray to try to prevent the fungus. It’s daunting just to think about spraying a tall Apple tree every two weeks for several month in a row even With a electrical sprayer.

But, the thought of making gallons and gallons of hard cider without having to scrub 100LB of apples should give me enough motivation to make hubby spray the tree for me😛

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Why would you need to scrub cider apples?

The apples were covered by sooty Bloch, the fungus does not come off by regular wash. I had to use a brush to scrub the apple in dish soap water. The water would turn pitch black.

I wouldn’t dare to make cider with that much black fungus on, imagine the the color of the cidet😃

That’s why I want to spray and control the sooty blotch, so I don’t have to scrub.

Chartman, thank you for the link!

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Depending on the weather, you can likely get away with less frequent sprays I think, at least for SB & FS. The newer Captan like that sold at KPS has a sticker incorporated that, imo, is almost too good.
I had said earlier that sulfur wasn’t really recommended on many efficacy charts, but in re-reviewing that, I’m partly wrong. It is known as an effective fungicide for SBFS, but there are other and better alternatives. My suggestion would be to do as I do and combine the two. They have different modes of action, and combined, I think will rival nearly anything. Certainly those that are not cost prohibitive etc. Neither is expensive and both have good shelf lives…in fact, as far as I know, sulfur’s is indefinite, provided it is still sprayable and not contaminated.
Another thing…SBFS is manifested very early. It overwinters in the bark and twigs. Much research has indicated copper as a highly effective fungicide in this area. It is even being applied at low rates to green growing foliage. I doubt you need to go that far, but it highlights (at least to me) the importance of a dormant spray with copper. I actually spray a trifecta copper / Captan / sulfur spray to everything, but this isn’t a spray you want to apply to anything very late…like anything with any green or even periods close to that.

Yes, there are, but you better be ready to sign a big check. Alan, I know sprays Pristine, it shows clearly higher efficacy against SBFS, Flint is another that I know Olpea sprays (or has sprayed), and I think Alan has (or does) as well. I’ve looked at these synthetic sprays 6 ways from Sunday and none of them make any sense (save for myclobutanil) for the BYO. They make a lot of sense for commercial applicators, even in terms of cost, but even then, they are advised to sometimes apply in combination with Captan or some other “contact” fungicide. Captan is basically the biggest, best, and most suitable cannon the BYO has in terms of a broad spectrum fungicide…and it’s a pretty good one. Captan actually excels in a few areas where the better, pricier synthetics fall short. Keep in mind, your spraying will be certainly doing you good in areas outside of SBFS.
As Alan eluded to earlier, airflow and sunlight are the greatest weapons. If you’re in a fog pocket, covered with shade (even dappled), with inadequate airflow, then there simply is not an easy chemical to help you. I highly doubt that is the case.
It is my strong suggestion to try some Captan 80 WDG and some micronized WP Sulfur. I think your SBFS issues will soon be a distant memory. One of the great attributes of Captan is that it is listed for damn near anything you grow, or ever thought about growing. That versatility holds great value…at least for me.

Here is a link for a bit of reading…there are thousands though.


I’ve heard it doesn’t affect the cider- maybe you should try a batch. Actually more than heard. I have a client who has an annual cider picking party and we used to leave the summer fungus alone- the cider was great even though the apples were ugly.

We started spraying the apples for summer fungus so folks would take home bags of the fruit. It worked very well for that but now not so many people help in the apple pressing- they are too busy gathering fruit to take home.

The vast majority of my very rich customers opt for low spray ugly apples. Of course, they can pay to have them scrubbed if they want but the defects are a badge of honor.



Excellent article on SBFS. Its a big problem here and I read the article from Cornell several times then printed it and put it in my spray folder. I found it interesting that even with a cover spray program that started on July 11 in their research orchard, they had FS by mid September! The FS was a result of an infection that occurred before July 11. Apparently the major chemical fungicides can suppress an existing infection somewhat but not eradicate it. Unfortunately the infection is not visible for a long period of time after it occurs, so you don’t even know you have it.

Topsin M was mentioned in the article. Its pretty inexpensive and works against SBFS. Its normally combined with Captan to reduce resistance,

And yet I’ve had good success with a program that avoids a single spray in June and begins about the 7th of July in spite of what the scientists say about the fungus already establishing in June- and I’ve been doing this for at least 4 years on a couple hundred full sized apple trees at three separate sites.

I depend on Flint and Pristine much more than Captan and spray bi-weekly, stopping sprays by the end of Aug or the first week of Sept.

According to Cornell this just shouldn’t work.

People look at the apples with their eyes and not microscopes.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky- for sure it only works with well spaced trees in pretty good sun that I’ve summer pruned, but without the spray program the apples are dirty even with everything else.

If you are commercial you pretty much have to go by guidelines but if you don’t absolutely need perfectly pristine fruit you can tailor your program based on your own experiences.


The long tradition in cider making is to completely ignore those summer diseases. Here is a picture of apples at a traditional Devon (England) cider harvest:

I just did a Google image search on traditional cider apple harvest to find it. You don’t want rotten apples and bitter pit also makes bad cider, but skin diseases can be ignored.