Home fruit tree spray schedules and lawn tips

By John Fulton

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[March 27, 2014]  When it comes to home fruit tree spray programs, be consistent and be persistent. Quality fruit these days takes those two things, and time. It seems like quality fruit must be sprayed at the recommended intervals.

Starting with dormant oils, these 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 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 a half-inch out of the bud. The spray used by homeowners usually consists of a multipurpose fruit spray and sulfur if needed for powdery mildew. Multipurpose fruit spray has been reformulated to include malathion, captan and carbaryl (methoxychlor was eliminated from the old 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.

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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Lawn tips

As expected, things are really bunching up due to the cold weather during most of March. Spring seeding should be done between March 15 and April 1 for the best chance of success. The reasons for the early date are the heat and the long germination time for Kentucky bluegrass. It can take up to a month for bluegrass seed to germinate. This means an April 1 seeding might germinate May 1. Then add six to eight weeks for it to become established. This could then be close to July 1. Usually we tend to get hot weather by then.

Let's start with the basics. The normal seedings are a blend of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue. The fine fescue is much better in shade, and the perennial ryegrass will provide quicker cover. The seeding rate is generally 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet in bare dirt seedings. Use 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet in overseeding thin lawns.

Of course this can run into some real money when doing very large areas. Many rural seedings are done more on the basis of a pound per 1,000 square feet. There are almost 44,000 square feet in an acre, so you can do the math on this one.

If you seed grass seed, you can't use a crabgrass preventer.

If you do plan to use a crabgrass preventer, time it so it is on about the time the forsythia blooms. This would be the approximate soil and air temperature needed for the crabgrass to germinate. April 1 is a good guess, but this date can vary widely with the weather. Many crabgrass preventers last for only four to eight weeks, so plan on repeating the application in June anyway.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension]

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