May 9, 2014

Spraying Guide and Spray Timing

It's time to actively examine a spray protocol  for your fruit trees! The question everyone needs to ask before spraying is “Do I want to spray or not?”   Well, unfortunately, in northern Illinois we have four main pests that we will almost always have to spray for.  The decision to spray or not depends on how much fruit loss you are willing to take. That is your threshold.  If you can accept some fruit loss, then the need to spray diminishes greatly.  But if you only have a few trees and some fruit damage may mean losing half your fruit, then spraying becomes more important.  Let’s meet our top four pests in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.Meet_Enemy

The four main pests that we face here in our climate zone are , , and , in that order. But how do we know when to spray for them if it is a last resort to protecting our fruit?  

All tree fruit have several distinct growth stages as the fruit matures.  Knowing and identifying those growth stages is  very important for the home grower because recommendations and spray timing for spray applications are linked to these specific growth stages.  The chart below shows the common growth stages for apple trees.  

apple_growth_stages

Since the average home grower does not have access to their own weather stations or degree day calculators, the fruit tree development stages play an ever greater  role in pest management for the average grower.  Most spray schedules (protocol) follow the tree development stages to aid in the timing of sprays so they are most effective.  It is important to note that many diseases and some insects can only be controlled by spraying before they can be seen like apple scab.  Spraying less frequently or at the wrong time will typically result in poor results.  And, spraying more frequently will not necessarily give greater control. 

The tree developmental stages or tree phenology gives us a guide as to when to spray, but what do we spray if we have to spray?  If we consult some of the various spray guides available to the home grower, we will find that most of the spray guides provide us with the tree’s development stages (phenology) and the insects or diseases that frequently  occur during each of theses stages.  So the tree phenology serves as timing guide when the application of a particular spray is recommended in order to control specific insects or diseases at the right time.   The following spray guide for apple trees will give us the time to spray based on tree phenology, the pest to spray for and the product recommendation for that pest(s).

apple_spray_guide

This particular spray guide is included in “” from the Purdue University Extensions Publication as a free download.  It goes into detail as to the various products available for spraying that include both conventional and organic alternatives.  The publication includes apples,  pears, peach, cherry, grape, strawberry and raspberry guides as well as the phenology charts for each fruit type.

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