Spray for peach trees

such tender and beautiful buds!

This post was updated just for you, Gentle, fruit-growing Reader, in August 2019. *curtsy*

We planted a small orchard on our place about ten years ago and were delighted when it started to produce fruit a few years ago. Our delight quickly turned to dismay, however, when–after a year or two–we discovered that much of the fruit was wormy! We found that most of the damage was the work of the common and infamous codling moth, admittedly a rather attractive moth but not one that you want to hang around your place.

Or befoul and completely ruin your hard-won orchard apples.

This is what we want to avoid!

Here it is: the infamous Cydia pomonella.

The codling moth (Cydia Pomonella) is a pest that is common all over the world, though it was native to Europe originally. The larva of the moth is the common apple worm or maggot, shown in the picture above. The little bugger will also attack pears, walnuts, and other tree fruits.

Spraying fruit trees with a chemical spray several times throughout the growing season is generally believed to be the only way to repel the insects that do so much damage to the fruit in our area. I actually bought some spray a few years ago, but I never could bring myself to use it. I try to stay away from chemical sprays whenever possible, and just reading the warnings on the back of the bottle scared me away from using it.

“HAZARDS TO HUMANS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS! Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Causes skin irritation. Harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothing. . . BEE CAUTION: MAY KILL HONEYBEES OR OTHER BEES. This product is very toxic to honeybees!”

Yikes! That’s not all. The warnings go on for some time, but that was enough for me to put the bottle of spray aside and think hard about whether I wanted to risk it or not. I never did pick it up again. (I love our honeybees!)

This is what you want! Beautiful, insect-damage-free fruit!

We spend quite a bit of time and energy trying to keep our honeybees healthy and to attract songbirds to our place: I wouldn’t want to do anything that would harm them or drive them away. And of course my beautiful chickens have the run of our place most of the time.

I have oodles of good reasons to avoid using chemical insect controls on our place. Oodles!!

However, it’s not much fun to eat wormy fruit. Happily–amazingly!!–a couple of years ago, I discovered a natural way to keep the nasty bugs away from my fruit that is very easy to do.

It’s very simple; it doesn’t cost much; it won’t hurt your songbirds, your children, your dog or your honeybees; and it has been very effective in my own orchard, even last year which was unusually hot and dry and buggy.

If you have fruit trees and are put off by the chemical spray route, and if the codling moth or other insects have made your fruit nearly impossible to enjoy, you may want to try this, too.

Here are the things you’ll need, for each tree you have:

  1. Gallon-size plastic jug (milk jugs are good, vinegar jugs–which are tougher–are even better)
  2. Sturdy twine or rope
  3. a sharp knife or sturdy pair of scissors
  4. 1 cup white vinegar
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 3/4 cup water
  7. 2 banana peels, cut in strips (I’ve substituted other fruit peels when we didn’t have bananas in the house, and they seemed to work just as well)

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Slice off a third of the top of the gallon jug (leave the handle intact) and punch a few holes along the top edge. Thread a 2′(ish) length of twine through handle and holes.
  2. Mix together the sugar and vinegar, and put into the jug. Add the banana strips.
  3. Add the water to the solution and stir vigorously.
  4. Hang the jug in your fruit tree.
  5. Check the jug every day or two for moths and replace with new solution when necessary. If you have codling moths in your area (and you probably do) when they are most active your solution will be positively full of dead moths. It’s pretty thrilling, really. If the jugs fill up with moths too quickly, I’ll double the recipe so I don’t have to change the solution so often. I have other things going on too, after all. 🙂

Three years ago when I hung these jugs in my orchard for the first time, I must have hit the timing just right, because the next day when I went out to check on the jugs, every single one was so full of dead moths that I couldn’t even see the solution. I delightedly dumped them all into the compost pile and refilled them with new solution. I had to do this a few times during the first week or two, but my apples that year were nearly free of moth damage and worms.

It took just a little bit of time and attention, but the rewards were huge!

The gallon jugs don’t show up that much, nestled into the fruit trees like this. Look at all the pretty blossoms on this apple tree! Hooray!

Having all those lovely apples was even more thrilling than finding all the dead moths in the traps!

How lucky we are that the Cydia Pomonella doesn’t know the back stroke.

If you want to try this for yourself, it’s important to get those jugs full of solution into your fruit trees before they bloom, or at least as the blooms are opening, as that’s when the codling moth seems to begin laying eggs. What happens is that the moth is attracted to the vinegar-sugar solution with the fruit peels, and then drowns in it, thus not laying its eggs on the leaves and blossoms of the fruit tree.

By the way. I just bought this book and am currently–wide-eyed–working my way through it. I highly, highly recommend it to you if you are growing an orchard and care about doing it right. It’s an awesome book.

We installed the jugs in our orchard trees this week, and I’m checking them every day or two for moths. My trees are blossoming beautifully this spring, so I’m looking forward to lots of delicious, chemical-free fruit this summer!

So now, Gentle Reader, if you have fruit trees and have been perplexed by the damage of coddling moths or other baffling insects in the past . . . well. . . . now you know what to do!

And if you’d do me and your friends the favor of sharing this post with them, we’d all be in debt to you–because–who doesn’t want better fruit from their fruit trees? (And thank you!)

*hugs*

Peach Insect Pests

Numerous insects are pests on peach trees in South Carolina. They cause damage to the peach flowers, fruit, twigs, limbs and trunk. Some of the most common of these are plum curculio, Oriental fruit moth, peachtree borer, lesser peachtree borer, shothole borer, catfacing insects, scale, Japanese beetle and the green June beetle.

As a result of the need to control some serious insect pests as well as disease organisms, individuals who grow peaches in their backyard for home use often discover that obtaining acceptable quality fruit requires more specialized care than they can give. It should be noted that without the application of well-timed pesticides, it is common for insect pests and disease to ruin the entire crop as well as damage the tree(s).

Several all-purpose fruit sprays are on the market for homeowner use. These materials contain insecticides and a fungicide, which will control most insects and diseases seen in a home orchard fruit tree situation. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. As with any pesticide, read and follow all label directions and precautions.

Aside from pesticides, homeowners can follow such cultural practices as proper sanitation to reduce insect pests significantly. Sanitation includes quickly removing and destroying dead, diseased and damaged wood and fruit. The leaves, wood and fruit often provide pests with places to complete their development or to survive the winter.

Although adequate insect control on peaches usually requires spraying trees, these sprays need to be timed accurately to be effective. Knowledge of the insect pests and their life cycles aids in identification as well as the early diagnosis of a developing pest problem.

Plum Curculio

The adult plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar) beetle is a mottled brown with a rough and warty body surface. It is about ¼-inch long and has a long, curved snout. Its immature stage is a grub (larva). A fully mature grub is legless, smooth-bodied and up to ½ inch in length. It is yellowish to grayish in color and slightly curved with a brown head.

Both adults and grubs cause damage to peaches, as well as plums and other stone fruits, apples and occasionally pears. The primary injury is caused by the adult female when she makes a crescent-shaped cut in the skin of the fruit to lay her eggs. This results in D-shaped scars on the fruit surface. Grubs that hatch from the eggs feed in the fruit making it worthless. Later in the season both males and females damage the fruit by making round feeding punctures.

Plum curculio adults overwinter (survive the winter) under leaves, brush and in other protected places near the orchard. Wild plum thickets within ¼ mile of an orchard can provide a source of adults. The adults become active when average temperatures reach 50-60 ºF for three to four days, or when the maximum temperature reaches 75 ºF for two or more days. This is usually about the time peach trees bloom. The first activity will be noticed on outside rows.

They feed on developing fruit and leaves and lay their eggs in the young fruit. Carefully inspect fruit on these outside rows for egg-laying and feeding scars. Fruit infested shortly after bloom by the first generation drop to the ground. The larvae hatch and feed in the fruit. They leave the fruit, burrow into the ground and pupate (transform into the non-feeding stage where the larva changes into an adult). From mid-June through July the first generation adults emerge, move into the trees, and begin laying eggs. Fruit infected by the second generation remain on the tree until harvest. Again, the larvae feed for a while, drop to the ground and pupate. The second generation adults emerge in the fall, move to the hibernation areas and overwinter.

When disturbed, the adult plum curculio tends to fold its legs against its body and fall to the ground where it remains motionless for several minutes. This behavior can be used when trying to detect its presence. Place a light colored drop cloth on the ground under the tree and shake some branches. If present, the plum curculio will drop to the ground and be readily visible.

Plum curculio larva (Conotrachelus nenuphar) feeding inside peach fruit.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

Adult plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar) feeding on immature peach fruit. The crescent-shaped injury is from egg laying.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

Control: Homeowners can achieve at least partial control by practicing good sanitation methods. These include picking up and destroying fruit on a weekly basis that drops early, as well as removing or cleaning up overwintering sites.

Clemson Fruit Bag developed for the home orchard and hobbyist fruit gardener.
Guido Schnabel, © 2015, Clemson University.

Chemical controls should be applied immediately after the flower petals fall to control the first generation. Three sprays, the first in mid-June and the second at the end of June and the third in early July will control the second generation adults. Homeowners can use malathion. This insecticide may be used individually, or can be found in premixed home orchard spray products. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. When using malathion, wait 3 or 7 days, respectively, between spray application and harvest. Permethrin, lambda, cyhalothrin, or cypermethrin may also be used to control plum curculio, but do not apply these products within 14 days of harvest. Repeated use of carbaryl, permethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin may increase problems later in the season with scale or spider mite outbreaks. A mixture of neem oil and pyrethrins is labeled for plum curculio control and may give some control. As with all pesticides, read and follow all label directions and precautions.

Though products are available at gardening stores for homeowners, many gardeners are not inclined to use pesticide applications for home fruit production. Instead, hobbyist gardeners may use bags to protect fruit from pests and diseases. Clemson University has tested and is promoting the use of specialty bags that, if used properly, allow for production of high quality fruit with very little pesticide input. The bags are recommended for use in a three step fashion: (i) properly take care of your trees to minimize tree stress; (ii) protect your fruit from pests and insects between bloom and the day of bagging; and (iii) enclose nail-sized, green fruit (typically 3 weeks after bloom) with a specialty bag to be removed at harvest. For purchase information and use instructions please see: Clemson Fruit Bags or simply google this page using the key words “Clemson Fruit Bags”.

Oriental Fruit Moth

The Oriental fruit moth (Grapholita molesta) is grayish-brown and has a wingspan of about ½ inch. It is active at night. When first hatched, its caterpillar (larva) is about 1/16-inch long and white with a black head. The mature caterpillar is about ½-inch long, has six distinct legs and is pinkish with a brown head. The caterpillar is a pest of peaches and other stone fruits as well as apples, pears, and some ornamentals in the rose family.

In South Carolina, there are six or more generations of Oriental fruit moth per year. This pest overwinters as mature larvae inside cocoons, which are located in protected areas on the tree or in debris near the base of the tree. In early spring, the larvae pupate (transform into the non-feeding stage where the larva changes into an adult) and adults begin to emerge at about the time of bloom. The adults lay eggs from which larvae hatch.

These first-generation caterpillars bore into new growth at the tips of peach tree branches. This activity causes the branch tips to wilt (also known as “flagging”) and die back. Later in the season, after the branch tips harden, caterpillars enter and feed in the fruit instead. While in the fruit and twigs, caterpillars are protected from insecticides. Good early season control of adult moths using insecticides will often provide control for the entire season.

Oriental fruit moth adult (Grapholita molesta) is a small, grayish-brown moth.
Eric LaGasa, Plant Protection Division, Washington State Department of Agriculture

Oriental fruit moth larva (Grapholita molesta) grows to ½- inch long.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

Control: The presence of moths can be detected with the use of traps containing pheromones (synthetic insect attractants). Permethrin, lambda cyhalothrin, or malathion sprays should be applied if an average of more than 10 moths per trap occurs. Do not apply products containing malathion within 7 days of harvest, or apply permethrin or lambda cyhalothrin within 14 days of harvest. Also, do not apply more than 8 applications of permethrin per season for all insect pests.

Peach Borers

Peachtree borer larva (Synanthedon exitiosa) bore into the base of peach trees.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

The peachtree borer (Synanthedon exitiosa), the lesser peachtree borer (Synanthedon pictipes), and the shothole borer (Scolytus rugulosus) are pests of peaches. Of these, the peachtree borer and lesser peachtree borer are the more serious pests. They are found on most cultivated and wild stone fruits, including some ornamental shrubs such as flowering peach, cherry, and plum. It is the larvae of these insects that damage peach trees.

Peachtree Borer: The peachtree borer adults are clearwing moths, and are often mistaken for wasps due to their appearance and behavior. The adult female peachtree borer is a metallic blue-black color except for a red-orange band on the abdomen. The male is black with yellow stripes along the back at the base of each wing and narrow yellow stripes on the abdomen. The larva (immature stage) is about 1 to 1¼ inches long when fully grown. It is creamy white with a brown head.

The larva of the peachtree borer attacks the tree at the base and may be found feeding from the main roots to about 10 inches up onto the trunk. Masses of gum mixed with frass (a sawdust-like insect waste) are the primary symptoms of attack. Young trees can be killed by a very small number of larvae. Older trees can tolerate more larvae.

Peachtree borer (Synanthedon exitiosa) damage at the base of a young peach tree.
H C Ellis, Department of Entomology, University of Georgia

The peachtree borer overwinters (survives the winter) as larvae. It has one generation per year. Some adults begin emerging in late May although peak emergence is in mid- to late August. Wounds and rough bark are favorite sites for egg laying. About two weeks after the eggs are laid at the base of the tree, the small larvae hatch and burrow into the bark where they begin to feed. They stop feeding when cold weather comes and resume feeding the following spring.

Control: Since the peachtree borer causes its most severe damage to young trees, special care must be taken during planting to avoid damaging the bark. A pre-plant dip in an insecticide solution is strongly recommended. In light soils the wind may make the tree move enough to make a gap between the trunk and the soil or abrade the bark. This is an excellent entry site for the larvae. Annual trunk sprays during August will generally keep the peachtree borer under control. Be sure to apply sufficient spray from the scaffold limbs to ground level so the bark is saturated and a small puddle forms at the base of each tree.

Homeowners can use permethrin sprays at the base of the trees for peachtree borer control. Do not apply these products within 14 days of harvest. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. As with all pesticides, read and follow all label directions and precautions.

Lesser Peachtree Borer: The adults of the lesser peachtree borer are also clearwing moths. Both the male and female adult lesser peachtree borers resemble the male peachtree borer, except that they are somewhat smaller. The larva of the lesser peachtree borer is very similar to the larva of the peachtree borer, but smaller.

Lesser peachtree borer (Synanthedon pictipes) damage typically occurs on the trunk and scaffold limbs.
Carroll E. Younce, USDA- ARS

The lesser peachtree borer attacks the trunk and main limbs. Again, the symptoms are oozing gum that contains frass. Heavy infestations can kill individual limbs or an entire tree.

Like the peachtree borer, the lesser peachtree borer overwinters as larvae. It, however, has two generations per season and occasionally, a third. Emergence of adults peaks in late April to mid-May and late July to mid-August. Cytospora cankers (a fungal disease), wounds, and previously infested areas are favorite sites for egg laying.

Control: The best control for the lesser peachtree borer is to keep the trees in a vigorous, healthy growing condition and to prevent mechanical injury. Prune out split or broken limbs and limbs with signs of borer damage where feasible. Destroy pruned wood before adults emerge in April by shredding or burning. Avoid spreading bacterial canker while pruning by dipping the pruning tool after each cut into a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water.

As with the peachtree borer, annual trunk and limb sprays in August will help control the lesser peachtree borer. However, since there are two or more generations per year it is difficult to get good control with insecticides since the first generation emerges while there is fruit on the tree. Homeowners can use permethrin for lesser peachtree borer control (see limitations listed for peachtree borer control). Permethrin will last longer on trunks than most other insecticides. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. Do not apply these products within 14 days of harvest. As with all pesticides, read and follow all label directions and precautions.

The shothole borer (Scolytus rugulosus) attacks the trunk and main limbs. The entrance holes are small and round.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

Shothole Borer: Shothole borers are small, cylindrical beetles. They attack many fruit trees and ornamental trees and shrubs. Plants under stress are highly susceptible to shothole borer attack. Shothole borers attack the trunk and limbs. The entry holes look like the tree has been hit with fine bird shot. The adult beetle bores into the bark and then carves out chambers below the bark in which to lay eggs. The larvae feed on the bark. Occasionally, shothole borers may attempt to enter the twigs at the base of flower buds. This activity can destroy the buds.

The shothole borer overwinters as larvae. It has several generations per year. The adults emerge from the infested trees in April and May and move to new trees, especially those under stress from drought, disease or other reasons.

Control: The best control for shothole borer is to keep the trees in a vigorous, healthy growing condition and to prevent mechanical injury. Prune out split or broken limbs and limbs with signs of borer damage where feasible. Destroy pruned wood before adults emerge in April by shredding or burning. Avoid spreading bacterial canker while pruning by dipping the pruning tool after each cut into a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water.

Permethrin sprays that are necessary for other borers provide adequate control of adults (see limitations listed for peach tree borer control). Do not apply these products within 14 days of harvest. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. As with all pesticides, read and follow all label directions and precautions. With more than one generation per year it is difficult to get good control with insecticides since the first generation emerges while there is fruit on the tree. There is no effective control for insects already in the tree.

Catfacing Insects

Catfacing insects include the tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) and various stink bugs. The tarnished plant bug is oval and has a white triangle on its back in the “shoulder” area. It is brown and about ¼-inch long.

Stinkbugs are shaped like a shield. They vary in color from green to brown and in size from ½ to ¾ inch in length.

The tarnished plant bug and the stink bugs have needlelike mouthparts that they use for piercing and sucking. They distort fruit by their feeding. The damage that they cause appears as deep dimples in the fruit. The damage is cosmetic and the fruit is still edible.

The catfacing insects overwinter as adults in protected areas in or near the orchard. Winter annual weeds that begin to bloom in late winter are a major attractant for these insects.

Control: Removing weeds and debris in the area will greatly enhance control of these insects. For chemical control, permethrin, lambda cyhalothrin or cypermethrin are available in homeowner size packaging. Do not apply these products within 14 days of harvest. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. As with all pesticides, read and follow all label directions and precautions.

Tarnished plant bug adult (Lygus lineolaris) and immatures feed on and distort peach fruit.
Lisa Ames, Department of Entomology, University of Georgia.

Green stinkbug (Acrosternum hilare) is one of several stink bugs that feed on and distort peach fruit.
Frank Peairs, Colorado State University

Scale

White peach scale (Pseudaulacaspis pentagona) covering a peach branch.
Eric R. Day, Entomology Department, VPI&SU

Various scale insects attack peaches. The most commonly seen are the white peach scale (Pseudaulacaspis pentagona) and the San Jose scale (Quadraspidiotus perniciosus). These immobile insects can rapidly decrease the vigor of peach trees, kill limbs and ultimately kill the trees.

Scales are unusual insects in appearance. The adults are small and immobile, with no visible legs. Scales vary in appearance depending on age, sex and species. The adult females typically produce a waxy covering that protects them from many insecticides. They feed on sap by piercing the leaf or stem with their mouthparts and sucking.

The adult female white peach scale is 1/16– to ⅛-inch in diameter. It is circular in shape and yellowish to grayish white with a yellow or reddish spot. It will infest the bark, fruit and leaves of peach trees. An infestation by white peach scale can result in stunting, leaf drop, death of branches and even entire trees.

The white peach scale survives the winter as an adult female. The adult male is mobile and lives about one day. After mating, the female starts laying eggs in early April. The eggs hatch into nymphs (immature stage that looks similar to adult only smaller). Nymphs, or crawlers, as they are also called, crawl around for a few days before settling and beginning to feed. There are three generations per year.

The San Jose scale survives the winter as partially developed male and female adults. Development continues when the sap flow begins in the spring, and they become fully developed about the time the peach trees are in bloom. This species does not lay eggs but gives birth to crawlers that immediately disperse over the tree. There are four to six generations per year.

San Jose scale on peach tree bark.
US National Collection of Scale Insects, USDA – ARS.

Control: The adult female scales are difficult to control with insecticides because of their hard, waxy covering. Horticultural oil can be applied before budbreak when the temperature is above 40 °F. The oil sprays work by smothering the overwintering adult females, and they offer the best control when applied during the dormant season. Spray the trunk and limbs with a 2 or 3% oil solution to the point of run-off. Two sprays are best at 3 weeks and 1 week before bud swell. To make a 2% horticultural oil spray, add 5 tablespoons of oil per gallon of water.

If the scale problem is serious, fall applications applied during the first cool spell after full leaf drop should be considered. These oil sprays applied during the dormant season will also help control spider mite infestations, as they survive the winter on the bark.

Chemical control of only the crawlers only can be achieved with malathion, permethrin, lambda cyhalothrin, or cypermethrin which are available in homeowner size packaging. If spider mites become a problem, a ½% horticultural oil spray will suppress them. Do not apply a horticultural oil spray within 2 weeks of a captan (fungicide) spray). See limitations and pesticide comments listed for peach tree borer control. Table 1 has examples of insecticide brands and products.

Additionally, sprays for controlling scale should be applied about April 9, June 25, August 25, and October 8 in the Savannah Valley and Pee Dee regions, and about May 1, July 1, and September 1 in the Piedmont. Do not spray insecticides during bloom. Do not apply malathion within 7 days of harvest, carbaryl within 3 days of harvest, and permethrin or lambda cyhalothrin within 14 days of harvest. As with all pesticides, read and follow all label directions and precautions.

Table 1. Insecticides for Peach Insect Pests.

Pesticide Active Ingredient Examples of Brands & Products
Horticultural Oil Bonide All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil Concentrate; & RTU
Ferti-lome Horticultural Oil Spray Concentrate; & RTS
Monterey Horticultural Oil Concentrate OMRI
Southern Ag Parafine Horticultural Oil
Summit Year Round Horticultural Oil Concentrate; & RTU
Lambda Cyhalothrin Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate; & RTS
Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard (also w/ Boscalid & Pyraclostrobin – which are fungicides)
Cypermethrin Gardentech Sevin Insect Killer Concentrate; & RTS
Malathion Bonide Malathion Insect Control Concentrate
Hi-Yield 55% Malathion Insect Spray
Ortho Max Malathion Insect Spray Concentrate
Spectracide Malathion Insect Spray Concentrate 50%
Southern Ag Malathion 50% EC
Neem Oil & Pyrethrins Ferti-lome Fruit Tree Spray with Neem Py Concentrate
Ferti-lome Triple Action Insecticide, Fungicide, & Miticide Conc.; RTS; & RTU
Ortho Tree & Shrub Fruit Tree Spray Concentrate
Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus RTS
Permethrin Bonide Eight Insect Control Vegetable Fruit & Flower Concentrate
Bonide Eight Insect Control Yard & Garden RTS
Hi-Yield Indoor/Outdoor Broad Use Insecticide Concentrate
Combination Fruit Tree Sprays
Malathion, Carbaryl & Captan Gordon’s Liquid Fruit Tree Spray Concentrate
Tiger Brand Fruit Tree Spray Concentrate
Martin’s Rescue One Spray Protection Concentrate
Bonide/Complete Fruit Trees Spray Concentrate
RTS = Ready to Spray (a hose-end spray bottle)
RTU = Ready to Use (a small pre-mixed spray bottle)
Notes: Captan is a general purpose fruit tree fungicide. The Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard can only be applied twice per growing season because of the specific fungicides in the product.
To protect pollinating insects, do NOT spray any insecticides during bloom.For a general fruit tree spray schedule, please see IC 119 Insect & Disease Management for Home Grown Fruits & Nuts. For more information on peach diseases and control, please see HGIC 2209, Peach Diseases.

Spraying Peach Trees: What To Spray On Peach Trees

Peach trees are relatively easy to grow for home orchardists, but the trees need regular attention, including frequent peach tree spraying, to remain healthy and produce the highest possible yield. Read on for a typical schedule for spraying peach trees.

When and What to Spray on Peach Trees

Before bud swell: Apply horticultural dormant oil or a bordeaux mixture (a mixture of water, copper sulfate and lime) in February or March, or just before buds swell and daytime temperatures have reaches 40 to 45 F. (4-7 C.). Spraying peach trees at this time is critical in order to get the jump on fungal diseases and overwintering pests such as aphids, scale, mites or mealybugs.

Pre-bloom stage: Spray peach trees with a fungicide when buds are in tight clusters and color is barely visible. You may need to spray fungicide a second time, 10 to 14 days later.

You can also apply insecticidal soap spray to control pests that feed at this stage, such as stinkbugs, aphids and scale. Apply Spinosad, a natural bacterial insecticide, if caterpillars or peach twig borers are a problem.

After most petals have dropped: (Also known as petal fall or shuck) Spray peach trees with a copper fungicide, or use a combination spray that controls both pests and diseases. Wait until at least 90 percent or more of the petals have dropped; spraying earlier may kill honeybees and other beneficial pollinators.

If you use a combination spray, repeat the process after about a week. Other alternatives during this period include insecticidal soap for stinkbugs or aphids; or Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) for caterpillars.

Summer: Continue regular pest control throughout the warm days of summer. Apply Spinosad if spotted winged drosphilia is a problem. Continue with insecticidal soap, Bt or Spinosad as described above, if necessary. Note: Apply peach tree spray in early morning or evening, when bees and pollinators are inactive. Also, stop spraying peach trees two weeks prior to harvest.

Autumn: A copper-based fungicide or bordeaux mixture applied in autumn prevents peach leaf curl, bacterial canker and shot hole (Coryneum blight).

Spraying Peach Trees

First and foremost, be sure to familiarize yourself with the existing or potential pest and diseases issues for peach trees in your area. Your local county Cooperative Extension is an excellent resource. Documents for identification and control, assembled by your local state universities, may even already exist online. Your local independent garden centers and local growers are also invaluable sources of pest and disease control in your area.

In high-density orchards, a proper and consistent spray schedule can be paramount to the survival of your peach tree. Many potential issues can be prevented with sprays before they become problematic. To get the most return on the investment of your money, time and energy, spraying peach trees should be done consistently and thoroughly, following the guidelines below.

NOTE: This is part 9 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow peach trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on the labels of the products. Do not combine any chemicals unless the labels on each chemical spray involved specifically state that you can safely do so.

A well-rounded home spray program for peach trees includes dormant-season as well as growing-season sprays for pests and diseases. Research your location and learn about any pests or diseases that frequently occur where you live. If you know peach tree diseases are common in your area, planting easy-care, disease-resistant peach trees may give you an advantage.

Note: Contact your local county Cooperative Extension for alternative suggestions and advice on cultural and chemical control methods if certain sprays offered by Stark Bro’s are not recommended for use in your area.

When to Spray Peach Trees

  • Dormant Season (late winter/early spring, before bud break)
  • Growing Season: Bud Break (emergence of new growth)
  • Growing Season: After Blossom (after petals drop*)

*gives bees and other beneficials a chance to safely pollinate the blossoms

It bears repeating: Always follow instructions printed on the label for more detailed information about timing and application methods.

Pest Control Sprays:

Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil

  • For: Overwintering eggs, larvae, and pests including European red spider mites, adelgids, scale insects, apple aphids, bud moth, leafrollers, light brown apple moth, red bug, codling moth larvae, psylla, blister mites, galls, whitefly larvae, and mealybugs.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when temperatures are between 40ºF and 90ºF.

Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust

  • For: Codling moth, leafminers, leafrollers, oriental fruit moth, tufted apple budmoth
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 10 days, up to 6 times per season (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 7 days before harvest.

Bonide® Insecticidal Soap

  • For: Adelgids (woolly aphids), aphids, lacebugs, mealybugs, mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, scale insects, plant bugs, sawfly larvae (pear and rose slugs), psyllids, tent caterpillars, thrips, spider mites, earwigs, and whitefly.
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, weekly or bi-weekly as needed.

Bonide® Thuricide® BT

  • For: Redbanded leafroller, tufted apple budmoth, variegated leafroller, tent caterpillar, fruit tree leafroller, gypsy moth
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break or After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when eggs or newly hatched larvae first appear.

GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

  • For: Apple aphid, apple maggot, apple mealybug, apple pandemic, apple rust mite, apple sucker, avocado leafroller, bagworms, black cherry aphid, black scale, leafrollers, lecanium scales, lesser appleworm, lesser peachtree borer, meadow spittlebug, omnivorous leaftier, strawberry fruitworm, orange tortrix
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. To avoid fruit drop, apply 30 days after full bloom. Apply as directed, every 7 days, up to 8 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 3 days before harvest.

Disease Control Sprays

Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental (wettable powder)

  • For: Primary scab, black rot (frogeye), botrytis blossom-end rot, Brooks fruit spot, sooty blotch, fly speck, black rot, black pox, botryosphaeria rot, bitter rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (pre-bloom, bloom, petal fall), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not use in conjunction with wettable sulfur, hydrated lime, or oil sprays. Apply as directed, every 10- to 14-days as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest. Not for use in California (contact local county Cooperative Extension for recommended alternatives).

Bonide® Copper Fungicide

  • For: Fireblight, anthracnose, bitter rot, black pox, black rot, Brooks spot, flyspeck, powdery mildew, sooty blotch, summer scab, white rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (may include bloom period), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, making sure to adhere to specified intervals to avoid phytotoxicity and other issues in apple trees.

Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

  • For: Botrytis (leaf blight, blast, vine rot), purple blotch, neck rot, downy mildew (suppression), early/late blight, leafspots and foliar blights (including: anthracnose, black spot, botrytis, shothole, fusarium leafspot, twig blight, brown rot, scab, stagonospora leaf scorch, etc.), flower spots and blights (including: botrytis flower spot, flower blight, etc.), stem canker, stem end rot, phytophthora (leaf blight, dieback), powdery mildew, rust (cedar apple rust, cedar hawthorn rust, cedar quince rust, etc.), mummy berry, eastern filbert blight, leaf curl, shothole (coryneum blight), lacy scab (russet) – and more
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (avoid use during bloom period to prevent injury), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed (interval varies) as needed. Avoid spraying plants during extremely hot and sunny weather. Do not apply within one week before or after application of an oil/oil-based pesticide.

Combination Sprays for Pests & Diseases

Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

  • Pests: Ants (excluding fire ants, harvester ants, pharaoh ants, and carpenter ants), aphids, apple maggot, beetles, mites, moths, spider mites, leafhoppers, leafrollers, leafminers, caterpillars, whiteflies, spittlebugs, mealybugs, scale, thrips, psyllids, plant bugs, fruit flies, earwigs
  • Diseases: Scab, powdery mildew, rust, blight, brown rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 90ºF. Do not use within 21 days of an oil spray. Apply as directed, every 7- to 10-days, or after rain as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest.

Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

  • Pests: Apple maggots, codling moths, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, plum curculios, aphids, bud moth, Forbes scale, eastern tent caterpillar, red-banded leafroller, mites
  • Diseases: Bitter rot, black rot, frogeye leaf spot, Botryosphaeria (white rot), botrytis rot, bullseye rot, Brooks fruit spot, flyspeck, cedar rust, quince rust, scab, sooty blotch
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 85ºF. Apply as directed, no more than once within 7 days, up to 2 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 14 days before harvest.

Bonide® Neem Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, scab and flower, twig and tip blight, and alternaria.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative, also active. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs, and pests on contact. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Oil-based, so apply in early morning/late evening to minimize the potential for leaf burn. Apply as directed, every 7- to 14-days as needed.

Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, loopers, mealybugs, leafhoppers, leafminers, thrips, borers, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, hornworm, earwig, chiggers, worms, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, brown spot, dollar spot, snow mold, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, blight (flower blight, twig blight, and tip blight), scab.
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom (for early disease prevention), Growing Season – After Blossom (for pest and disease control on contact).
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 7 to 14 days, as needed. Do not use more than 1 time per day on the same plants. Do not use more than 10 times per season. Do not apply when temperatures are below 45ºF. Do not apply to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Apply in early morning or late evening to minimize potential for leaf burn. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

Monterey Horticultural Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, sawflies, loopers, leafhoppers, leafminers, leafrollers, psylla, mealybugs, thrips, worms, and more.
  • Diseases: Black spot, powdery mildew, rust, sooty mold
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom, Growing Season – After Blossom, Dormant Season
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, as needed. Do not apply when temperatures are below 32ºF (no heat restriction for use – unique for an oil spray). Do not apply during drought or to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

In This Series

  • Introduction

Getting Started

  • Acclimate
  • Location
  • Planting
  • Soil Preparation

Care & Maintenance

  • Fertilizing
  • Pest & Disease Control
  • Pruning
  • Spraying
  • Watering

Other Topics

  • Harvesting

When to Spray Fruit Trees

Back to Tree Fruit Problems

Domesticated fruit trees are prone to many diseases and pests that require close management. Controls include cultural methods, such as removing diseased fruit, as well as organic and non-organic sprays.

Early spray applications are timed to control serious diseases and insect pests and coincide with stages of fruit bud development. Important stages include:

  • Dormant—just before bud swell in spring.
  • Silver – buds slightly open but not showing any green tissue.
  • Green tip—buds are open at tips exposing green tissue.
  • Half-inch green—one-half inch of green tissue is projecting from bud.
  • Tight cluster—blossom buds are exposed but tightly pressed; stems are short.
  • Pink—blossom buds are pink or white with fully extended stems.
  • Blossom—from bloom opening through petal-fall. Do not use any insecticides during the bloom period.
  • Petal-fall—petals have fallen.
  • Fruit formation.


Apple silver tip stage


Apple pink stage

Fruit bud development in fruit trees

General Disease and Insect Pest Control Recommendations
Home Fruit Preventative Spray Schedule

How to Get Rid of Ants Near Your Trees

Trees and pests just don’t get along. Simple as that, right? Well, when it comes to ants lurking around our trees’ roots and stems, things aren’t so clear-cut.

Some ants don’t pose a problem at all–and get this, some can even help us take better care of our trees. Others are out to hurt our pleasant plants.

So how can you tell the difference? Read on to learn everything you need to know about these creeping critters and your tree’s health.

Are ants on trees good or bad?

Ants are drawn to trees for two reasons. They’re searching for sweet honeydew left behind by other insects, or they’re making themselves at home inside trees with cavities and rotten wood.

Generally, ants themselves don’t damage a tree. Instead, they provide a warning sign that our tree is in trouble, which can help us act fast to treat it.

Do any ants around tree roots do harm?

With every rule, there are exceptions! Here are two ants that can be a problem for your tree.

  • Red imported fire ants: They’re harsh on young trees and inflict people and pets with awful blisters.
    If you see dome-shaped mounds at the base of your tree, be super careful not to touch or disturb those ant hills. The small, dark marron ants will sting whatever disrupts their home. Then, contact your arborist about an insecticide right away.
  • Carpenter ants: Piles of sawdust at the base of your tree mean these black ants are active. In this case, you should call your arborist to determine if the tree needs to be removed. Remember, ants only burrow in rotten tree wood, so a plant with carpenter ants is weak and could be risk of falling.

How to get rid of ants on trees

Even though most ants don’t threaten trees, they can be opportunistic and end up in your home or other parts of your landscape. Here are a few ways to stop that from happening:

  • Spray the tree with a solution that contains 30 drops of peppermint oil and one gallon of water. Ants hate peppermint, so they’ll leave the tree once they catch wind of the scent.
  • Line the bottom of the tree with ant baits to capture them as they travel.
  • Use a horticultural soap or insecticide to rid the tree of sap-feeding insects. In turn, you’ll cut off the ant’s honeydew supply.

Fruit Trees & Ants

red currant image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com

Fresh fruit grown in your backyard is a summer treat and the trees provide welcome shade from the heat of the day. It is common to have insect pests in fruit trees and ants are often seen. However, ants marching all over your fruit is a bit of a concern and can make your fruit less appetizing. Most ant infestations are an indicator of other issues in the tree, but they are also attracted to ripening fruit.

Identification

Usually you will see small black ants in fruit trees. They need a balance of protein and carbohydrates which they find in insects and nectar or honeydew. The ants don’t live in the tree but will have a nest nearby with a queen who lays all the eggs. The other ants perform special duties depending upon their modification. Some are defenders, some hunt and some take care of the eggs. Food is also procured for the queen and brought to her inside the nest.

Effects

Ants won’t cause damage to the tree itself. They can damage fruit and their presence is unsightly. Ants will not eat leaves or wood unless they are carpenter ants, but may harvest plant debris for their nests. Ants are known to swarm over extremely ripe fruit, being attracted to the scent and the sugar content. Ants will protect their food source, which in many cases is honeydew, the excretion produced by scale and aphids.

Scale is a flat disc-like protrusion on tender branches. Under the protrusion is the insect who is busy sucking the sap out of your tree. Soft scale is the type usually seen on fruit trees and they can cause the tree to look stressed and drop leaves. It is unlikely they will kill the tree but they release honeydew as an excrement which coats tree parts and invites black sooty mildew. The honeydew also attracts flies, wasps and ants.

Aphids

Aphids are tiny little insects that come in a variety of colors from white to black and several shades of green. They attack buds, young shoots and leaves and ingest the plants sap. They can kill off the buds but generally will not kill the tree, although entire infestations can cause stunted growth and decline in the tree. They also produce honeydew, a substance that the ants desire. Ants will often protect and herd aphid colonies so they have a ready supply of food.

Treatments

Think natural and organic when considering your treatment method. There are tree collars you can purchase that will deter ants and cause no toxic introduction to the fruit. Additionally, there are insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils that can kill the existing pests and drive ants away to find more fertile ground. You can also lay sticky traps at the base to snare the insects.

Peach Tree Fruiting – What To Do For A Tree With No Peaches

Peach trees not bearing fruit is a problem that frustrates many gardeners. This need not be the case, however. Learning more about the causes for a tree with no peaches is the first step in finding a solution to the problem. Once you know why a peach tree’s not bearing fruit, you can fix the issue for abundant peach tree fruiting next year.

No Fruit on Peach Trees

Peach trees generally begin bearing fruit two to four years from the time they are planted. Several factors can cause a peach tree not to bear fruit when expected. These include over-fertilization, improper pruning, low temperatures, lack of chilling hours and the residual effects of the previous season’s crop.

Fixing Peach Trees Not Bearing Fruit

Fertilization – Fertilization with high-nitrogen fertilizers encourages a peach tree to focus its attention on producing new shoots and leaves at the expense of fruit. If a peach tree is growing well and the foliage and new shoots look healthy, it may not need any fertilizer. Remember that when you fertilize the lawn around a peach tree, you are fertilizing the tree as well as the lawn. Lawn fertilizers are very high in nitrogen and can impact fruit production. The addition of phosphorus can help offset this.

Pruning – Some types of pruning have a similar effect on peach tree fruiting. Removing an entire branch encourages fruiting, while removing a part of a branch, which is called heading back, encourages new growth at the expense of fruit.

Temperature – Peach trees begin forming flower buds for the year’s crop during the previous year. This means that the buds are already formed when winter arrives. Unusually cold winter temperatures or warm winter temperatures followed by a sudden drop can damage the buds so that they will not open, resulting in few or no fruit on peach trees.

Lack of chilling hours – On the flip side of the coin from temperatures being too low at the wrong time is that it may not be cold enough where you live for the tree to get the proper amount of chilling hours. This can result in deformed fruit or even no fruit. Your local county extension agent or a good local nursery can suggest peach trees that perform well in your climate.

Previous crop – When the year’s yield is very heavy, it takes all of the tree’s energy to support the crop. In this case, the tree doesn’t have the resources to produce flower buds for next year’s crop, resulting in no fruit on peach trees the following year. You can help the tree distribute its resources evenly by thinning the fruit during years of heavy yield.

Do You Need Two Peach Trees for Fruit?

Many types of fruit trees, such as apples and pears, need two different varieties growing close to each other for proper fertilization. Peaches are self-fertile, which means that a single tree, with the presence of adequate insect pollinators, can pollinate itself.

Other reasons for a tree with no peaches include overcrowding and not enough sun. Treatment with the insecticide carbaryl can cause part or all of the fruit to drop from the tree before it matures.

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