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How to: care for deciduous fruit trees


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Get ahead of the game by using a variety of strategies to prevent pests and diseases attacking fruit trees, such as apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots and figs. 


Some work now will mean bounteous harvests later!


Winter pruning

Sharpen the secateurs then prune diseased and dead wood from the tree. Thin out the canopy and remove branches that rub against each other.


Winter pest control

Eco Oil - the larvae of coddling moth, which affects apples and pears, spends winter hiding low in the trunk of trees. Scrap away any flaky bark and spray with Eco Oil every two weeks for two months.

Methylated spirits - woolly aphids look like cotton wool and weaken the tree by sucking the sap. Treat by painting aphid-infested stems with methylated spirits/ Eco Oil or a systemic insecticide.

Copper oxychloride - brown rot, a condition in which fruit rots on the tree is common during wet springs and summers. Prevent it by applying copper oxychloride as a spray during winter dormancy. The spray will also protect against black spot, fire blight, European canker, leaf curl, shot hole (die-back), bacterial spot and stonefruit blast.

Lime sulphur spray - this spray controls peach leaf curl and fungal disease. It also kills scale eggs and mites that overwinter in the stem and trunks of deciduous plants. Mix up Yates Lime Sulphur spray according to the directions on the box and sprayit all over deciduous fruit trees while they are without their leaves. As it also kills black spot fungal spores spray your roses at the same time. 


Winter Feeding

Encourage a good fruit harvest with a good feed. Mix up a barrow of well-rotted manure mixed with a few handfuls of blood and bone and dolomite lime (extra magnesium and calcium). Use a garden fork to make holes in and around the drip line and apply. The manure should extend out at least as far as the leaf canopy of the tree. This manure mulch will conserve moisture in the soil, reduce weed growth, attract earthworms and add nutrients to the tree roots. This annual feast is best served after harvest.


Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross