I checked my apple and peach trees the other day to see how well the blossoms weathered the frosts this spring. My peach tree looks to have only sparse fruit, but it looks like my apple managed to miss the frosts. It’s loaded with fruit. I’ll have to do considerable thinning to get a nice crop. I think I will try spraying with carbaryl about June 8 to help with that process. As near as I can tell that will be about 21 days after full bloom. Spraying with carbaryl at that time is supposed to cause about 25% of the fruit to drop. I’ll let you know how it works. Any remaining overcrowded fruit (less than 6″ apart) I will hand thin before they get larger than a 25 cent coin.
The other important task is to keep the apples worm free, or at least mostly worm free. Here are some methods for controlling codling moth (the adult of the apple worm). I will list them in order from most benign to most intensive.
1- Traps. Hang codling moth traps in your tree. These sticky traps have pheremone lures that attract the adult codling moth. One in a tree can be used to monitor when to spray, or you can hang multiple traps to try to actually trap a majority of the moths that come around, eliminating or at least reducing the need to spray.
Isomate in apple tree
2- Isomate C+ Pheremone Ties. These small plastic strips are placed in the tree to slowly releases pheromones for season-long mating disruption of codling moth. If they don’t mate they don’t lay eggs. Thus, no worms.
3. Homemade Solution. If you listen to my Garden Talk radio show on Saturday mornings on KID 590 AM you have heard Marge, a frequent caller from Shelley, give out her recipe for keeping worms out of her apples. With her permission I share it here:
6 parts water
1 part molasses
A little yeast
Use 1 or 2 quart milk bottles. Cut a 2 or 3″ hole in the side near the top. Cut the bottom of the handle so it can be used as a hook to hang the bottle in the tree. Fill bottle 3 or 4 inches deep with the above solution. Place 6 or 8 bottles in each tree right after they blossom. Leave all summer. Refill bottles as needed.
Natural Guard Spinosad
4. Spinosad organic spray. Spinosad is a compound derived from a bacteria originally found on sugar cane. It is an organic pesticide with uses including codling moth larvae control (in other words- worms in apples.)
5. Chemical sprays. Chemical sprays include malathion and carbaryl. My favorite is called Bonide Fruit Tree Spray. It contains malathion and carbaryl, as well as captan for disease control, and a spreader sticker for more effectiveness. Codling moths generally don’t emerge in east Idaho until late May or early June, so now is a good time to start spraying. Spray every 7 to 14 days through August for best results.