Organic Bug Prevention on Apple Trees

Overview

Apple trees are among the most popular deciduous fruit tree. They grow best when they have between 900 and 1,200 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. A few varieties, such as "Anna" and "Dorsett Golden" grow well in milder winters. Apple trees need pollination and adequate space. They grow well with plenty of sunshine, and need little water. There are standard and dwarf varieties, and a range of skin color from red to yellow.

Characteristics

A healthy apple tree gives fruit from mid-summer to late fall. There are varieties which are just for eating, such as the popular "Red Delicious." "Golden Delicious" and "Gravenstein" are good cooking apples. Trees begin to bear fruit on the spur branches after 3 to 5 years of growth. Spurs grow from the main structural branches. Careful early training and pruning keep trees in manageable shape and good health.

Identification

The coddling moth is the most common apple tree pest, followed by the apple maggot. The coddling moth is ½ to ¾ inches long, with gray mottled wings held like a tent over their bodies. They tunnel to the fruit core, leaving reddish-brown droppings. The apple maggot larvae is under an inch long , roundish and creamy white. They cause dimpled flesh, discoloration and poor fruit development.

Organic Care

Prepare your soil with natural organic additives before you plant an apple tree. Use composted soil from your compost pile or a good commercial brand. Organic compost is widely available in nurseries and by mail-order. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets standards for commercial organic composts. Blend the compost thoroughly into the soil to a depth and radius of 12 to 24 inches.

Disease Prevention

Pests are attracted to unhealthy trees so prevention is crucial in preventing infestations. Trees are more able to ward off insect infestations when living in healthy soil. Good pruning and good sanitation also prevent disease. Keep rotted fruit off the ground and remove leaves promptly. Insects are scavengers and attracted to unhealthy plant material.

Treatments

To control the coddling moth plant lavender or chives underneath the apple tree. To trap moths, use this mixture in a hanging plastic milk-jug trap: 4 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup molasses and 1 tbsp. yeast. Garlic spray is also effective on moths. To control apple maggots, use a tomato or potato leaf spray. Soak 2 cups of chopped tomato leaves in 1 pint of water overnight. Strain this mixture, then add another pint of water and 1/4 tsp. castile soap.

Keywords: organic pest control, apple tree care, organics