May 29, 2019

Our First Major Insect of the Growing Season

plum curculio ovipositing egg
Plum Curculio Ovipositing Egg
With apple scab season in our midst, and petal fall ending, it is time to turn our attention to several insect pests.  I have had the first sighting of plum curculio activity in the orchard today.   Plum curculio (PC) is one of the most difficult insect pests to contain.  They enter the orchard from the perimeter after the adults pass the winter hidden under leaves, along fence rows, in brush piles, rock walls and in other protected places. In spring when the weather warms up (mean temperature 60°F. or maximum temperature above 75°F.), about the same time apples are blooming, the adults become active. The adult plum curculio beetles, pictured to the left, emerge right around or just after petal fall, to feed on apple buds, flowers, leaves and young fruit.  The duration of full bloom to petal fall is usually about 5 to 10 days.  From petal fall to fruit set is generally another 5 to 10 days, depending on temperatures.  Once the fruit sets, female beetles cut holes in the young fruit and deposit one egg in each cavity. 
 

 
These sites, called oviposition stings, are easily identified by their crescent shaped cuts. Unlike codling moth, the larvae of plum curculio rarely cause damage to the fruit. The fruit is primarily damaged superficially by the egg-laying and feeding by the adults. These "stings" will cork over and cause an indentation in the fruit as it matures making it look deformed and unsightly.
The question then becomes, how do we control them??  Pesticide application at this time is very important for plum curculio control. To prevent fruit drop, and due to toxicity to bees if there are still blooms on the trees, do not use carbaryl (Sevin®) or any pyrethrin based spray as these are highly toxic to honey bees and other pollinators as well as any beneficial insects. For home growers, an acetamiprid spray such as Ortho® Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer Ready-Spray is a deterrent.  If no blooms are present  on any trees, a pyrethrin based spray can be used as a deterrent, even though there may be no fruit.  Picking up and disposing of any fallen fruit will reduce problems with plum curculio, other insects, and many plant diseases. For conventional growers, Avaunt or Assail are two choices you might use, based on your codling moth protocol and your apple maggot protocol.

For a pure organic spray, the two most frequently used insecticides are Surround® and Pyganic®, both certified organic. The organic products may need to be sprayed multiple times for complete control at 7 to 10 day intervals or after any rain. And, as always, follow all label directions on any spray product. 

For a complete Fact Sheet on Plum Curculio, consult the Cornell University Plum Curculio Fact Sheet and for an in depth look at 

 Reference in this publication to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use
of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for general informational purposes only and does not
constitute an endorsement or certification of any kind by Royal Oak Farm.

People using spray products assume responsibility for their use
in accordance with current label directions of the manufacturer.

May 8, 2019

Main Pests, Tree Growth Stages and Spray Guide

If you have a Home Orchard or just a few apple trees in your back yard, if you have not thought about how to handle those pest problems you had last season yet, now is the time to actively examine a spray protocol  for your fruit trees! And start right away, before it is too late and the pests have a chance to establish themselves in your 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,  southern Wisconsin, and in most of the states east of the Rocky Mountains. 

 The Four Main Pests

 Meet_Enemy



The four main pests that we face in apple orchards here in our climate zone of 5/5A are , , and , in that order. For more information on these and other potential apple tree pests, visit our web site Growing Guide page.  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.  

Tree Growth Stages (Phenology)

 

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 web site or our 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.  For recommendations on spray products for the Home Orchard visit our spray product recommendations.



Reference in this publication to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use
of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for general informational purposes only and does not
constitute an endorsement or certification of any kind by Royal Oak Farm.

People using spray products assume responsibility for their use
in accordance with current label directions of the manufacturer.

Follow by Email