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Home fruit tree spray schedules

By John Fulton          Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 23, 2006]  What a way to usher spring in! At least temperatures have been mostly mild this winter. Many trees and shrubs are showing those effects with plump buds on many of the early species.

When it comes to spray programs for apple and pear trees, the two rules are to be consistent and be persistent. Quality fruit these days takes these 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.

The first regular spray of the year is applied when the green tissue is one-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 the last year or two 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 the buds show color. After that, the persistence and consistence 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 nonbearing, young fruit trees where borers have attacked, you can spray the trunks every two weeks during June and July with a multipurpose fruit spray.

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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 spraying, also with captan, is 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.

New website launched

The Logan County Extension office has launched its new website at The site contains program information, subject matter, links to other university sites and fact sheets. More material is being added all the time, and this is a 24/7 link from our office to you.

Used tire collection

One of the best ways to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes is eliminating tires outside. There will be a tire collection April 1 at the Logan County Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Enter through the south gate. Agreement forms for the free disposal are available at the Extension office. Remember, you may participate in only one free tire collection, so prior participants are not eligible.

[John Fulton, unit leader, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County Unit]


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