Written by Scott Austin
There is nothing like tasting fresh fruit right off the tree, especially when it’s a tree from your own landscape! It’s a big part of the appeal of living in the Okanagan. Our valley is known for its orchards and commercial growers need our help to keep their crops healthy. Growing fruit trees in your backyard is so rewarding but it comes with responsibilities. There are simple steps you can take to ensure that your fruit trees remain pest and disease free; a win for you and for your neighbouring orchardists!
Dormant spray is an important step in controlling insects and diseases on fruit trees, cane and berry fruits as well as ornamental trees and shrubs. It is a highly concentrated spray which is strong enough to destroy fungal spores and overwintering eggs and adult insects. Apply dormant spray, made up of lime sulfur and dorman oil, late in the dormant season before the flower and leaf buds begin to break open on the above plants.
Lime sulfur is a fungicide which is effective in controlling rust, scab, black spot, powdery mildew, mites, aphid eggs and peach leaf curl. It is caustic and works by burning the germinating fungal spores. It also forms a protective coating over the leaf buds before they open in spring, which is essential for controlling peach leaf curl. Do not spray on Anjou pears or other sulfur sensitive plants.
Dormant oil is an oil product used in the dormant season before the buds break open. It controls the eggs of mites, tent caterpillars, gypsy moths, scale, aphids and other insects by coating and smothering them. Don’t use on beech, walnut, Japanese maples, magnolias or blue spruce as well as sensitive fruit tree varieties. Summer oils (lighter viscosity) are available for spraying on evergreens and deciduous plants during the growing season.
It's important to follow the directions on the packaging carefully. Don’t spray when the foliage is wet or when freezing temperatures are expected. Spray to the point of runoff from the leaves. Used properly dormant spray is an excellent way to control a wide range of insects and diseases with one application; before they become a problem during the growing season.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has been very proactive in getting relevant information about noxious pests of fruit trees to homeowners. They have produced a series of factsheets and videos on how to identify and deal with pests of most fruit trees. You can access these by visiting this link.
In addition to dormant spray GARDENWORKS has products that can be applied in the growing season to help control pests and diseases on fruit trees. Before you plant your backyard orchard talk to our staff; we can help you decide on types of trees and give you advice on how to make those trees thrive.