Monday, July 4, 2011

Update on Garden Projects:Apples

Sticky trap hanging in the Chicago Botanic Gardens (CBG).

This is a picture of some apples on an espaliered apple tree at the CBG. The black blemishes show the apple has been infected by either apple fly maggot or codling moth.

The CBG is in the fourth year of their organic gardening project. They have a number of apple trees, which I have to assume are also under the same organic dictates. The CBG was not bagging the "king" apple. They did not allow the grass to grow under their feet, so to speak. Some organic apple growers cite a dense, taller grass as a method to prevent or lesser the number of insect going to ground during certain life stages of the insect.

These are great tips, but they don't go far enough. Seeing the heavily-dimpled and spotted apples, the CBG will not have many, if any, blemish-free apples this fall.

As you might remember, I used a dormant oil spray in late February. In May, when I had nearly complete petal drop I sprayed with the chemical Malathion, not an organic choice. The recommendation is spraying at 75 percent petal drop. High winds took the trees from no petal drop to complete petal drop in the matter of hours.

The idea of Malathion use is treating codling moth and apple fly maggot during particular life stages. Another application will be done in the third week of July. I also hung sticky traps to capture apple fly maggot. These application of Malathion at specific dates are in contrast to spraying every two weeks.

If you do not have tall grass under your apple trees, black landscape fabric is recommended. I did not put down landscape fabric, but I do have my apple trees under planted with lilies, onions, and alliums.

So far I see no dimples, frass (a extruded gooey jelly typically from the blossom end), or any other blemishes that signals larval insect damage.

I am hopeful.

Two sprayings and a dose of dormant oil, the last a good two months before harvest, seems a lot better than regular twice monthly spraying. This one application of Malathion has been the only pesticide or fungicide has been the only chemical use in either the potager or family garden necessary so far this season.

Now, if I could get the Mantis tiller to cooperate!

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