There is nothing more disheartening than discovering your fruit tree is infested with either pests, disease or both. Correctly applying dormant sprays is the most effective method of controlling and preventing disease and pests on fruit trees. The work it takes in late winter will be rewarded with healthy trees and pest-free fruit during the bearing season.
What Are Dormant Sprays?
A fruit tree loses its leaves each fall, preparing it for a season of dormancy before new leaves develop in the spring. These types of sprays are called dormant sprays because they are applied when the plants and trees are in their dormant or resting stage.
The target of dormant sprays are the fungus, diseases and insect eggs that are trapped and growing in the bark, cracks and crevices of your fruit trees and roses. Dormant oil is used to basically suffocate insects and eggs of pests in your tree before the pests wake up from their winter sleep.
There are several chemicals, all classified as organic, that are used for dormant spraying and all are effective. These are usually combined with a dormant oil for easy application. At Branches Garden Center we carry several dormant sprays. Before you purchase a dormant spray be sure to read the label carefully. Select the one that will fit your situation best.
When applying dormant sprays there are two very important things to remember: 1) follow the mixing instructions exactly. Too strong of a solution will harm your fruit trees or roses as much as the diseases and pests you are trying to get rid of will. 2) Always wear a mask when spraying any chemicals in your garden.
When to Use Dormant Sprays
Dormant sprays need to be applied when the fruit tree is bare of leaves. There are general two times that dormant sprays are applied. The first application can be applied in the late fall. Most gardeners spray their fruit trees sometime around Thanksgiving. This fall spraying is like a protective coat for your tree. It inhibits disease spores from being blown by the wind to unaffected trees and plants.
The final, and most important, application of dormant spray and oil needs to be in the late winter or early spring. In the pacific northwest, Valentine's Day is the perfect time. The key is to apply this spray before your fruit tree has formed buds. The very beginning of leaf formation is the ideal time. If your fruit tree has already formed its flowering buds it is too late to apply dormant spray. Be sure to apply the spray as directed on the label, and choose a windless, dry day when rain is not in the immediate forecast.
· Always wear a mask when spraying your plants with chemicals.
· These products should never be used on evergreens because they are much too strong and caustic, and can cause damage.
· Fungus spores can also overwinter on fallen leaves. Be sure to rake and dispose of leaves if you know you have a disease problem.
· Spraying dormant spray when your fruit tree is flowering will kill the bees that are there to pollinate your tree and the result will be little or no fruit.