Fruit trees should be sprayed several times a year to provide optimal health and growth and to deter prevalent insects and diseases. Determining what spray to use, and when, depends on the type of fruit tree you have. Most trees, however, should be sprayed a minimum of five times a season using a variety of products.
Apple and pear trees should be sprayed with a dormant oil spray when they are dormant, during bud swell, or when their leaves are about the size of your small fingernail. They should then be sprayed with fruit tree spray when they are pre-pink, or just before bloom. A third spray should happen during their bloom with fire blight spray, to control fire blight, bacterial wilt, stem rot, leaf spot, and crown gall. Apple and pear trees should again be sprayed with fruit tree spray during petal fall, after bees are gone, to further prevent insects and disease. Continue to spray trees every ten to fourteen days with fruit tree spray until two weeks before harvest.
The spray schedule for peach, plum, nectarine, apricot, and cherry trees is similar to that of apples and pears. Trees should first be sprayed when they are dormant, during bud swell, with lime sulphur. Cover the trees with fruit tree spray when they have pink-tips, before their blooms open. The next spray is with caftan during bloom to prevent brown rot. Like apple and pear trees, peach, plum, nectarine, apricot, and cherry trees should again be sprayed with fruit tree spray during petal fall, after bees are gone, to further prevent insects and disease. Continue to spray trees every ten to fourteen days with fruit tree spray until two weeks before harvest.
Dormant grape vines, during their bud swell, should be sprayed with lime sulphur. Next, spray them with fruit tree spray during pre-bloom or half-inch green growth, and every seven days until bloom to prevent insects and diseases. Spray grape vines with caftan during bloom to prevent black rot. Spray them again with fruit tree spray post-bloom, after bees are gone, to prevent black rot and insects. Every ten to fourteen days, continue to spray grapes with fruit tree spray until two weeks before harvest.
Fruit tree spray, dormant oil, fire blight spray, lime sulphur, and caftan can be purchased at local nurseries and home and garden centers. These products are specially formulated for fruit trees, and will not harm bees. Remember to always read labels and follow directions carefully. Some trees may have other insect or disease problems that require further treatments not discussed here. Those who want to avoid commercial chemical sprays entirely can learn to make their own homemade sprays using household ingredients. Recipes for such sprays can easily be found online.