Many home gardeners and small orchardists plant apple trees to produce healthy fruit for canning and fresh consumption. Like other types of fruit trees, apple trees experience their fair share of disease and insect damage. Producing natural, organic fruit requires special measures to minimize the incidence of damaging conditions in the apple orchard. Reduce the need for harmful, chemical treatments in your apple orchard by substituting natural remedies and practicing proper planting techniques.
Select healthy and hearty varieties of apple trees. Look at individual labels and select disease-resistant varieties, such as Pristine and Gold Rush. Consider what types grow well in your local climate conditions. Purchase your trees from a local nursery, rather than a distant internet source, to ensure a suitable climate match. Choose semi-dwarf varieties to reduce the amount of necessary mechanical maintenance, such as pruning, over the years. Many organic orchardists choose semi-dwarf varieties over dwarf and standard trees, due to their rapid growth and heavy fruit production.
Remove all existing weeds from your selected planting site. Plant your trees according to the label instructions, allowing the required space between each tree. Good airflow reduces diseases and disorders in your orchard. Mix compost and mulch into the soil when planting your trees to increase the porosity of your soil. Spread a layer of compost over the surface to suppress diseases.
Spread weed-blocking fabric over the surface of the soil in your apple orchard. This fabric provides a non-toxic alternative to chemical weed treatments in organic orchards. Regularly weed your organic orchard by examining the area and pulling weeds as they appear.
Hang sticky traps in your apple trees to guard against apple maggots. Hang traps in your trees at the rate of one trap per 100 trees. Insect traps provide a non-toxic alternative to other types of pesticide treatments.
Clean the floor of your organic orchard to reduce bacterial and fungal diseases. Remove fallen leaves from nearby trees, as well as apple trees. In areas with continual leaf coverage, spread a fine layer of limestone over the ground. This natural ingredient kills disease spores on the surface of dead leaves and other vegetative debris.
Prune your trees regularly to avoid the spread of disease. Use a limb saw or pruning shears to cut off any damaged or dead growth on your trees. Cut above the damaged area, in the living tissue, to ensure complete removal. Haul off any cut limbs and twigs.