Let's face it, there's no hiding from the fact that insects really like fruit trees. Thing is, many insects that visit fruit trees will not cause serious damage or problems. Much of the problems with insects can be kept at a minimum by following some basic guidelines for prevention.
Preventing Insect Pests and Disease In The Orchard
Here's some basic tips for controlling pest's and diseases on fruit trees:
1) Start by purchasing healthy, pest and disease-free fruit trees. Some fruit tree cultivars are resistant or partly resistant to diseases. This resistance is a result of plant breeding. If you have the choice, investigate before planting which cultivars are available in your area.
2) Ensure good sanitation. Remove diseases plant debris and fruits from the plot. Many insects and fungus diseases breed in the ripe and fallen fruits. Removing old fruits from the field and keeping the area clean helps to keep the insect pests and diseases away.
3) Prune out diseased plant parts. Disease agents, especially fungi, remain in the bark of affected trees. By pruning and destroying these affected branches you avoid spreading fungus germs.
4) When using manures as fertilizer, make sure they are composted and well-rotted. Fresh manures attract insects and can carry diisease.
5) Plant certain annual and perennial plants to attract beneficial insects that will ward off or eat the bad insects. Sweet Allysum, Basil, Mint plants, and Yarrow are among a few that attract beneficial insects. Too, insects do not like the smell of marigolds and other plants containing pyrethrin. Hot chillies and garlic also have good insect repellent qualities. Bog Salvia is an excellent plant for repelling deer.
6) Watering and improving soil fertility increase the yield and reduce infestation by pests and diseases.
7) Hang pie tins to scare birds away. Nets are available for smaller trees and fruiting bushes such as blueberries.
8) Lime sulfur, available at nurseries and garden centers, can be sprayed on the trunk and branches of dormant fruit trees. This concoction will suffocate insect egg cases. Because the oily spray is heavy compared to the other water-based sprays, you'll need a pump sprayer. These are fairly inexpensive, and are available to rent from some nurseries. Only use this method while the tree is dormant, however, or it can kill the tree.
Scale insects are often a serious pest of fruit trees. Use of a dormant oil such as Volck at the rate of 5 tablespoons per gallon of water (8 fl. oz. per 10 gallons) just before green tissue appears is most effective against scale insects. Oil also helps in the control of mites and aphids. On peaches and nectarines, the application of a copper-containing fungicide before the buds swell in late winter prevents leaf curl disease. Some cultivars of peaches and nectarines are less susceptible to leaf curl than are other cultivars.
To learn more about natural and organic insect control in the landscape and garden, and to find homemade remedies, click on one of the links below.