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Home fruit spray schedules

By John Fulton

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[March 15, 2013]  It seems like quality fruit must be sprayed at the recommended intervals. For apples and pears, we start with dormant oils, which need to be applied before buds swell. Dormant oils are usually needed only every two or three years to provide control of scales and mites. Sure, the populations will build up in the off years, but they should remain relatively low if the three-year program is followed. Superior oils are lighter-grade oils that won’t cause as much burn damage during late spring or even for in-season use. Superior oils will also provide control of the mites and scales.

The first regular spray of the year is applied when the green tissue is one-half-inch out of the bud. The spray for use by homeowners usually consists of a multipurpose fruit spray (and sulfur if needed for powdery mildew). Multipurpose fruit spray has been reformulated the last year or two to include malathion, captan and carbaryl (methoxychlor has been eliminated from the mixture). This same mixture would be used when the fruit buds are in the pink stage -- when fruit buds show color. After that, persistence and consistency pay off as you spray with the same mixture about every 10 days until we get to within two weeks of harvest. In our area, we need to continue spraying this late because of apple maggot and sooty blotch.

This spray schedule will also control borers on apples and pears, if you also thoroughly spray the trunk and main limbs of the trees. On young, non-bearing fruit trees where borers have attacked, you can spray the trunks every two weeks during June and July with a multipurpose fruit spray.

The spray schedule for peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums varies a little bit. The dormant spray for them uses captan fungicide. This is the only spray that controls leaf curl and plum pockets. The next spray is with captan when fruit buds show color, followed by captan at bloom. When the husks begin to pull away from the base of the fruit, we would then spray with sulfur, captan and malathion. This mix would then be used every 10 days or so to within a week of harvest.

For borers on the peach group, you can spray or paint the trunk only with carbaryl (Sevin) on June 15, July 15 and Aug. 15. We walk a tightrope with the loss of some of the insecticides since carbaryl can cause fruit drop or thinning on the peach group and some apples.

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To-do list

  • Finish up pruning deciduous trees and shrubs. Buds are beginning to swell on early species. Evergreens should be done in June, flowering shrubs after they flower, and oaks and trees with high sap-flow rates (such as maples) in December.

  • Get prepared for the spring turf preparation season. The recommended dates for seeding, dethatching and aerating run from March 15 to about April 1.

  • Start your own transplants. The rule of thumb is to allow about six weeks before you want to set the plants outside. We are in zones 5b to 6a, with the division running through Springfield.

  • Look for spruce spider mites. They begin by mottling needles. They are a major cause of dead areas in spruce tree foliage. Treat with a miticide if needed.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension]

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