According to the Environmental Working Group, apples rank No. 2 among produce containing pesticide at market. Farmers routinely spray apple trees from the time the trees bear buds to just before apples are picked to protect the fruit from pests and diseases. Although these sprays produce a healthy apple, they remain on the apple’s skin. To allay fears about the long-term effects of these pesticides, grow your apples organically.
Select hybrid apple trees that are bred to naturally resist diseases.
Mulch apple trees with finished compost as a top dressing around the root line. Apple trees that are healthy from regular application of organic fertilizer will be more resistant to pests and diseases.
Prune away diseased branches to prevent the spread of diseases. Dip your pruning shears in a bleach solution to sterilize them in between cuts and prevent the spread of disease.
Select organic pesticides that are made from plant sources such as pyrethrum, rotenone or ryania. Another good source of organic pesticides are insecticides made of minerals such as boric acid, cryolite or diatomaceous earth.
Hang insect traps such as apple maggot traps, insect hormone traps, bottle traps or sticky traps from the branches of your apple trees. These traps will kill insects without leaving residue on your plants.
Kill insects manually by picking them off of your apple trees and disposing them in a bucket of soapy water.
Release beneficial insects such as lady bugs or praying mantis around your orchards. Many beneficial insect eggs are available for purchase from organic pesticide merchants. The eggs are sent in a dormant stage and attached to cards. To release the bugs, hang the cards from the branches of your apple trees. The eggs will hatch and release the insects, which will then feed on the bugs that attack apple trees.