Here is yet another apple tree question. My old apple tree has a bazillion
apples on it. Question: Exactly what do I do to it to keep worms from eating
the apples? Every year, almost every apple has one or more worms in it. Is
there a spray that can be safely used? And - here is the important question
that I haven't found an answer to - exactly how do I go about applying it,
IE what equipment do I need? This tree is 30-40 feet tall, and 30+ feet
across, it's quite large. My wife bought me a hand sprayer (bless her soul
LOL), but it isn't quite up to the task. How do I spray a huge apple tree?
There are larger sprayers for larger tasks. Apples is at the top of
the list for having pesticide content. Certainly, there must be
methods to worm-free apples labeled as "organic" or "organically
I made a sprayer out of a stainless steel fire extinguisher when I lived
in Texas and had a small orchard. (it would spray a 30' tree pretty
easily.) Your little sprayer can probably handle 20 feet; give it a try
and it might surprise you. Your tree also might need a good pruning
this winter to make it easier to deal with next year.
Keeping a small flock of chickens under the tree would be a natural way
to reduce worms in your apples. :-)
There are red sticky traps you can use to catch apple maggot flies
before they infect the apples.
Here, you can skip most of the spraying and get away with it, but the
July and early August sprays are very important. I spray with diazanon
in July and then stop, and put up with a few worms.
apples are very pesticide spray intensive. I wouldnt even bother planting one
yard because next door they got a big apple tree and DONT spray and every pest on
earth is breeding right there and would swarm mine.
My mother had an orchard and she sprayed every 10 DAYS starting with dormant oil
spring before it flowered.
OTOH, you dont have to spray if you 1. put mosquito netting around the entire
after blossoming (you need the bees to pollinate) and 2. you put a wide band of
tangle foot at the bottom to stop anything crawling up under where you bunch and
off the netting on the trunk. Ingrid
So am I basically SOL? Is it too late for this years crop?
Of all of the worms that typically infest apples, how many are already
there, and how many can I prevent by spraying?
If diazanon is evil, what are the alternatives?
Check with your county agent (remember Mr. Kimball on "Green Acres"?) or
your state agricultural extension service web site. They should have a
spray schedule for apples for your area. Early sprays are for fungal
diseases and apple curculio. Summer sprays are for "apple maggots".
Here in Minnesota, the serious damage is done by apple maggots, in mid-
to late-summer. (that's why I switch to Diazanon in the summer, it is
more persistent than Sevin or Malathion)
The pest that aggrivates me the most is a new one; Asian lady beetles.
After the first frost when most of the other small insects are gone for
the year, the ALB's attack my apples.
"Organically grown" apples is a nice concept, but it doesn't really work
unless you are just making cider. There's something called "Integrated
Pest Management" that can greatly reduce the amount of pesticides that
you use. It mostly involves good orchard hygiene and continual
monitoring for pests so you spray at precisely the right time instead of
I agree. If the tree is truly large and there is dead wood then it is best to
the tree. Clean up the area very well. Then find a very very good apple tree
supplier that is SPECIFIC for your area and plant apples on dwarfing rootstock.
is very important to get the right rootstock for your area. Forget Starks and
"magazine" suppliers. in the same area you could have a whole orchard of
varieties that ripen at different times.
1. you will need to stake dwarfed apples cause the size of the apples are normal
will pull the tree over.
2. you will need to be on a spray schedule anyway. but do look for rust and
resistant varieties if you dont have a favorite variety.
Definitely check with your extension agent. Not only for help on
controls, but some areas REQUIRE pest management of home trees and
orchards. I live in a significant apple growing region and in an
attempt to reduce the pest population in the area, any homeowners
failing to "maintain" their trees will find themselves slapped with a
fine. On the flip-side, they've recently started a program where for
each apple tree you allow them to cut down (they will happily do it,
saving you the labor), they will provide two boxes of apples each
year, of the variety of your choice, for the next 10 years... and yes,
there are organic apples available.
I said many, not all, and made the mistake of saying worms lay eggs. They
don't. Adults of the species do who have a worm stage in their
Spraying now will help keep interlopers off who come along, but won't do
anything for the ones already in the inside. Consult your local nursery or
coop to get info pertinent to your exact location. It may or may not be
much help now, but it will be location specific, and may help with next
These are just a few of my thoughts after reading all the suggestions and
Zootal's questions and replies.
Your links wouldn't come up for me so I'm just going on what I've read of
your descriptions and commentary.
All living things have a life span. You say your apple tree is now
approximately 100 years old. Because of a lifetime (the tree's, not
Zootal's) of insects, disease, neglect, ignorant maiming and now just plain
old age it's in death throws, why prolong the useless misery?
Putting netting over a 30 foot tree (that's about the height of a three
story building folks!) would be damned near impossible for the lone
homeowner to do unless they had a rocket launcher or helicopter. The mind
also boggles at just how large a piece of netting you'd need to get your
hands on to effectively cover that tree, never mind the cost and storage of
said netting. Then you need to get it back off the tree. Spraying that much
Diazanon, as it drifts over the neighborhood, your yard, garden, home, furry
and feathered animals, children, family and YOU is absolutely insane. WE
know better than that now!! Dormant oil sprays fall and spring should really
be the only thing you're spraying on your home fruit trees.
Get a nice, fresh, healthy, new tree. There is no law or moral mandate
chiseled in stone from The Mount that says you have to keep that tree. Why
anyone needs a 30-40 fruit in their home garden is beyond me. You aren't
getting descent apples, it's an ongoing PITA, you've put in hours of work
and worry with, so far, no return. Unless you really absolutely NEED the
shade what's the point? If you can't comfortably and safely pick the fruit
in your home garden without renting scaffolding or motorized equipment you
need to prune it lower. Use the wood for a fragrant winter fire, smoking or
grilling meat. Fruit wood is much sought after, if you don't want the wood
put an add on Craig's List.
Go to a GOOD local nursery and talk to them about what kind of apples you
want/like/desire, what they have that fills your desires, is disease
resistant and grows well in your area. Then ask about the care, feeding and
maintenance of your new tree and follow their advise. Learn about thining
apples to get the most productive crop. Learn how and why to prune. Seek the
advise of professionals, face to face visual contact is best. Hire a sherpa
to guide you to the nearest library. You'll find books with pictures, step
by step instructions and everything you need to guide you through an
ORGANIC, healthy relationship with your apple tree. If you find one book
with all the information you need and understand go buy it, keep it close,
read it often.
Pounding your head against a brick wall will only culminate in a bloody
head, no matter how sincere your warm & fuzzy, good intentions.
Google for Coddling Moth and Apple Maggot, two of the most common
And for diseases, google for Apple Scab.
Read all that and you'll wonder how several generations of humans have
never seen a worm in an apple nor seen a deformed one, apple, not
Forget about your worms. Use the wormy apples to make cider. Wonderfully
refreshing and nourishing. You can ferment it and legally make 200 gallon of
"hard cider". That will help you forget all about your worms. The worms will
provide for protein in your power-drink.
Newton developed the Law of Gravity when he saw an apple fall. Just sit
quietly under an apple tree, enjoy some hard cider or applejack, and maybe
you will present the world with the Unified Field Theory.
Pshaw...I did that many years ago. I came up with a trans-dimensional
quarternally unified field theory that went so far as to explain how to keep
wormholes open using common household items and proved that the universe is
actually eliptical, not round.
Problem is, I quit smoking, and now I can't remember any of it....
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