Spring Orchard Sprays
Apply holistic orchard sprays. Holistic sprays are composed of compost tea, liquid fish/seaweed, neem oil, and/or effective microbes. For best tree health and resistance to disease, apply up to 4 times in the spring (after bud break, at first pink of flowers, after petal fall, and two weeks after petal fall).
Depending on specific pest or disease problems, some orchardists might also consider other organic sprays including the ones listed below. In particular, plants that have suffered severe crop loss from fungal diseases (like brown rot, mildew, or scab) may be candidates for an early spring sulfur or copper spray. This is best applied shortly before or after bloom, so the time is now if you want to do this.
Check out POP’s guides to orchard applications of:
• Compost Tea Sprays for Orchards
• Neem Oil Sprays
• Kaolin Clay Sprays
• Sulfur Sprays and Early Spring Management Techniques
• Pyrethrin Orchard Sprays
• Bt: Bacillus thuringiensis Orchard Sprays
• Spinosad Orchard Sprays
Spring Weeding and Compost/Mulch Application
Yes, spring weeds are already popping up and never too early to get ahead of them! Also a good time to trim back any dead herbaceous material from companion plantings of flowers, herbs, etc.
Building healthy soil is key to supporting trees’ health, resilience and yields. Weed around the base of trees, and spread at least one or two inches of chipped winter prunings, shredded leaves, and/or mulch or compost in the early spring. Check out POP’s guide to Ramial Wood Chips and Weeding in Place.
Early Spring and Emergency Pruning
While optimal dormant pruning season is now behind us, those of you who waited on your peach trees should prune them now (peaches are the only fruit tree typically pruned during or immediately following flowering). For all other trees, most pruning should be limited to emergency pruning only:
Keep an eye out for any diseased, damaged, or dead wood that should be pruned away no matter the season. Pay special attention to the base of trees - especially of the stone fruit varieties: apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines - and prune away root suckers, the quick upright growth that can be a cover for dreaded borers, which make a home beneath trunk wood.
Remember: use sharp, rust-free hand tools and sanitize between trees at the very least, and between every cut if the tree you’re tending has had previous conditions. For easy disinfecting, we recommend carrying a spray bottle with you of rubbing (
isopropyl) alcohol or a bleach solution (1 part bleach: 10 parts water) to wipe down tools.
Pest and Disease Monitoring & Identification
Spring is when many pest and disease challenges show their first signs! Observe orchard regularly throughout the year for pest and disease problems, identify and respond appropriately. We've begun distributing physical copies to community partners, but in the mean time you can check out our POP's Scouting Guides for pest and disease management available for download on POP's website:
These guides are intended to help properly identify the insect pests and diseases that effect the following common fruit trees:
The guides include lots of photos and a description of how to identify the particular pest or disease and the damage caused by it. Proper identification is essential to treating these problems, as each has its own unique options for management! Once you have identified a pest or disease, you can then consult our website for management recommendations by using our search function:
Unwrap Figs and Pomegranates
It is safe to remove winter protection on these tender plants if you haven't already done so. Silver lining of our mild winter is that we aren't seeing any winter dieback and this is likely to be a very good year for fig production.
Wishing all a bountiful orchard this season. Stay safe, stay healthy.