POP TIPS: April Orchard Tasks

18 views
Skip to first unread message

Phil Forsyth

unread,
Apr 1, 2020, 10:03:07 AM4/1/20
to ph...@googlegroups.com
Dear Philly Orchardists,
In what is sure to be a challenging month for all, April is a key time for orchard care and efforts now will help ensure much needed harvests later in the year.  With our early spring, many fruit trees have already flowered and some are beginning to leaf out.  

Please check out our new POP Monthly Orchard Task List for recommended maintenance activities to complete this month (the April list is also attached below). For POP partner sites, we also ask that you complete our COVID19 Orchard Support Survey to help us understand how best to support you during this time. 

Here is some more detail on some of the key tasks for April: 

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. 


We will follow with another email with specific tasks for Oriental Fruit Moth, Brown Rot, and Spotted Lanternfly management for April. 

Wishing all a bountiful orchard this season.  Stay safe, stay healthy.  

Phil Forsyth, Co-Executive Director
Philadelphia Orchard Project
Pronouns: he/him

65 community orchards, 1340 fruit trees, and growing!
POP-Monthly-Orchard-Task-Sheet APRIL.pdf

Phil Forsyth

unread,
Apr 1, 2021, 9:30:56 PMApr 1
to ph...@googlegroups.com
Dear Philly Orchardists,
April is a key time for orchard care and efforts now will help ensure better harvests later in the year.  

FROST NOTE: Some earlier blooming fruit trees like apricots and hardy almonds are already flowering, and unfortunately may lose their crop this year due to the late frosts expected tonight and tomorrow. 

Please check out our POP Monthly Orchard Task List for recommended maintenance activities to complete this month (the April list is also attached below). 

Here is some more detail on some of the key tasks for April: 

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).  


image.png

Compost tea is one of the most effective ways to boost soil and plant health; early spring applications can help build resilience to pest and disease. 


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 Orchard Planting


It is safe to plant new orchard plants as soon as the ground can be worked.  POP's preferred spring planting period is between the beginning of April and mid May, so plants have some time to get established before the heat of summer hits.  Remember that fall is also great for planting most orchard plants, and fall plantings actually have better survival rates!  


POP and TreePhilly are collaborating on a free fruit tree giveaway this spring, with delivery to your door in May!  There are still some trees available, including serviceberries, European pears, American plums, and mulberries: 


POP TreePhilly Yard Tree Registration Form


POP is also holding a Plant Sale and Open House event at our new orchard and nursery space at The Woodlands on May 22.  


treephilly fig pickup.jpg

Last week, TreePhilly picked up 30 fig trees from POP's edible plant nursery at The Woodlands to distribute via their yard tree giveaway program this season. You can check out our nursery at POP's Open House & Plant Sale on May 22! 




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.  


mulch mycelium.jpg

Wood chips, especially ramial ones (which include tips of branches) are actually great for soil building in orchards, helping to foster fungal networks of mycelium (white strands in photo) that support tree health and help transport water and nutrients in collaboration with root systems. 



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).  


OEEC peach bloom.jpg

Unlike other fruit trees, peaches are best pruned during or after bloom. 


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 the orchard regularly throughout the year for pest and disease problems, identify and respond appropriately.  We've been distributing physical copies to community partners, but 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 affect 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: 


image.png
Keep your eye out for the first generation of Oriental Fruit Moth, which attack branch tips, causing dieback called flagging!  This is usually first seen in late April or early May.  Prune out any branch tip flags and kill the larvae inside.     


Unwrap Figs and Pomegranates

It is safe to remove winter protection on these tender plants if you haven't already done so.  Despite all the snow last winter, we didn't see many extreme temperatures and we aren't seeing much if any winter dieback.  Hopefully a good year for fig production! 


Wishing all a bountiful orchard this season.  Enjoy the spring orchard flower show!  

POP-Monthly-Orchard-Task-Sheet APRIL.pdf
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages