Michael’s Apples Releases April Fruit Tree Care and Gardening Newsletter


With the early spring, now is the time to start your insect pest control program; details in the newsletter. Also, remaining bare root trees for sale, another plant sale, rose pruning demo/class, and grafting classes still open. Enjoy the nice weather and hope it lasts. -Michael


BARE ROOT TREES FOR SALE: I still have a few bare root trees for sale. Contact me at michael@michaelsapples.com for more information.

ANOTHER PLANT SALE: The princes of permaculture, Neil Bertrando and Nathan Rosenbloom are having their Loping Coyote Farm plant sale on Sat. April 27th from 9-5 at Neil’s home in Lemmon Valley, 413 Matterhorn Blvd, Reno NV 89506. They have many interesting fruits including cold hardy kiwis, elderberries, sea berries, and others. Neil is currently taking pre-orders; for the list and other information, go to http://permacultureglobal.com/posts/3621 .

GRAFTING CLASSES: I will give 5 grafting classes this year. Participants will go home with 6 grafted apple trees.

I will have a collection of scions available from heirloom/antique, gourmet, and cider apple varieties. I’ll provide 6 dwarfing rootstocks (ELMA 26) per participant, scions, grafting rubbers, and parafilm grafting tape. Each participant will provide a grafting knife—I recommend a quality (like Stanley) utility (sheet rock) knife and new blade (the old-style straight, fat-handled, utility knife is better/safer than the ergonomic, curved types). BYOB (bring your own band aids).

Dates, times and locations are:

  • Saturday, April 6 at 9 a.m. 901 Gordon Avenue in Reno.
  • Saturday, April 6 at 1:00 p.m. 901 Gordon Avenue in Reno
  • Saturday, April 13 at 9 a.m. Rail City Nursery in Sparks
  • Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m. Rail City Nursery in Sparks
  • Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. 165 Bridge Street in Paradise Valley

Classes will start promptly at the appointed times.

To register and attend any of the classes, email me to reserve a spot. I’ll send the scion list and instructions. The cost for the class is $40 per person: please send your check to:

 Michael Janik
 901 Gordon Avenue
 Reno, NV, 89509

Classes will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants per class.

If you would like to graft an apple tree from your grandpa’s farm or the tree over the fence in you neighbors’ yard, you’ll need to collect a scion now while the tree is dormant.  Find a fruiting limb; cut a shoot of last years’ growth. Ideally, the shoot (now a scion) should be about 10 – 12 inches long and the thickness of a pencil; shorter and thinner won’t matter—we’ll make it work. Do not collect last year’s water spouts or any root suckers. Dip the cut ends of the scion in hot candle wax, wrap loosely in a moist paper towel or newspaper page, and put that in a plastic veggie bag. Roll up the bag loosely and place on a tray in your fridge (not in the freezer or the crisper drawer). Oh yes, and label the scion—I use freezer tape and permanent marker. Bring the scion to the class.

RENO ROSE PRUNING CLASS: Free Rose Pruning Demonstration is presented by the Reno Rose Society and City of Reno Parks Department Saturday, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM April 6 rose pruning Idlewild Park in the Reno Municipal Rose Garden.  Free sharpening of one pruner for first 50 attendees/participants. April 13 is volunteer day in the rose garden. Call 746-1140 or go to www.renorosesociety.org  for more details.

SPRAY PROGRAM: The main concern for us in April is to begin our spray program to minimize disease and insect damage to our fruit trees. Pest management is one of the more complicated aspects of raising fruit trees. I practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM); IPM minimizes pest-related loss of fruit with as little cost to the grower and as little disruption of the environment as possible.

First the outline, then the details:

Spray Outline for tree fruits

  • Dormant oil spray— smothers over-wintering aphid eggs– January or February when weather is warm and dry (optional)– At or just before ¼ inch green tip (which on my trees is NOW!)
  • Fungicide— helps control powdery mildew.
  • 10 days after dormant oil, but before bloom: Insecticide— controls codling moth (in larvae stage). First spray at 100% petal drop. Determine mating time using pheromone traps. Determine biofix and predict larvae hatch. Spray twice per hatch 7-10 days apart (3 hatches per year).

Note: Codling moths prefer apples and pears, but will also attack stone fruits. I limit my insecticide sprays to apples and pears bearing fruit (no use spraying non-fruiting trees and kill beneficial insects). I don’t spray stone fruits (cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, etc) unless I find—or found last year—codling moth damage on the stone fruits.

Spray Program Details: Go out and look at your fruit trees. Notice that many of the buds have swollen and become enlarged; the trees have gone from the dormant to the delayed dormant stage. Watch your trees more closely to see when the spring leaves begin to emerge signifying the next growth stage: ¼” green-tip.

Dormant, delayed dormant, and up to ¼” green tip is the time to use dormant oil to control aphids, scales, and other pests. The oil smothers the pests in the egg phase before they hatch. Dormant oil is one of the most benign pesticides (to humans), is easy to use, and is used in both organic approved and IPM programs. Every fruit grower should at least use dormant oil at or just before ¼” green tip and if possible once earlier during dormant or delayed dormant stage when temperatures are above 32°F and no rain predicted for 48 hrs.

The next stages of development are ½” green tip, tight (bud) cluster, first pink/white, and bloom. At 10 days after the dormant oil spray and before bloom, I apply a fungicide. If you have only a few trees and have had no problems with fungi, this can be an optional spray as our dry climate inhibits most fungi except powdery mildew. I have had powdery mildew once on spring growth and simply pruned back the shoot; more widespread infestations would need to be treated with a spray. Any fungicide approved for use on fruit trees will suffice—I use Captan; the organic option is a lime-sulfur spray.

At this point, we have the mandatory cautions: Read label directions, use only products specifically recommended for your particular fruit tree or plant, and follow the label instructions, especially for clothing, gloves, eye protection, and respirators. Don’t get sloppy and careless even with the organic approved products. Just as I don’t want to breathe or ingest Captan, I certainly don’t want to inhale sulfur or get it in my eyes! Also, use a different sprayer for the various applications; don’t spray insecticide or dormant oil from a sprayer that once contained an herbicide!

Do not use pesticides when trees are in bloom! You will kill the honeybees and other pollinators  Honeybees are responsible for 80% of pollination and hence, 8 out of 10 apples on each tree.

After blossom drop, the battle starts against the codling moth. Codling moth is the most damaging pest for fruit growers west of the Rockies. The moth (about ½” long with coppery iridescence near the wing tips) lays its eggs in the spring; the larvae (dang worms) emerge and bore into the fruit, feed, and then leave the fruit, pupate, and restart the cycle. The cycle repeats 2 or 3 times each year in northern Nevada.

Know your enemy. The codling moth lays its eggs in the spring; the larvae hatch, bore into the fruit, feed, and then leave the fruit, pupate, and restart their reproductive cycle. The cycle repeats 2 or more times each year depending on local climate/weather.

Timing your spray to kill the larvae at hatch is the key to minimizing damage. I spray once at 100% blossom drop. Then, I use pheromone traps to determine the optimum times to spray.

I order extra traps; I’ll have some for sale for $5 each while they last. Codling moth pheromone traps can also be purchased in Sparks at Rail City Nursery http://www.railcitygarden.net.

You will need 3 traps per year. The triangular, delta trap is equipped with a pheromone capsule and a sticky surface inside; the male cruises (for babes) at dusk, senses the female pheromone, flies into the trap, and becomes a statistic.

Set out one trap (or more–I use 2 in my 40′ x 120′ orchard area) per instructions when trees are in full bloom and monitor daily. When dusk temperatures are around 55°F, you will notice one moth; a few days later, another. Then, when the dusk temperatures are 62°F and above, an all-out mating frenzy begins and you trap several (like 80-100) of the unlucky boys in one evening. This event is the biofix.

Next, get on the internet, google: “codling moth degree days” and print the chart from www.ipm.ucdavis.edu.  Each day, look up the high and low temperature from the day before; record the “degree-days” number where the two intersect on the chart. When the degree-days equal 250 -300 from the first biofix, the eggs begin to hatch and the larvae burrow into the fruit. Spray; then, spray again in 7 to 10 days or per pesticide label instructions. After the first biofix, wait 30 days and set out the second trap..

Several pesticide products are suitable for use on codling moth larvae including malathion, imidan, and permethrin remain as the option for IPM; lime-sulfur, Bt, Spinosad or pyrethrum are approved for organic certified growers.

An alternative to multiple sprays is to bag the apples. The easiest and cheapest method is to use a generic ‘Ziploc’ sandwich bag. After all blossoms have dropped, spray an insecticide approved for codling moths and fruit trees; then, when fruit is about the diameter of a dime or a little less, thin the fruit and place the bag over the remaining fruit. Check the bags after it rains and cut out the corner of the bags to allow them to drain if they contain water. Paper bags may also be used, but need to be removed after the last codling moth hatch to allow fruit to develop proper skin color. Attached are photos from Ed Franks, home Orchardist and NAFEX member, and from UC Davis.

For a complete discussion of codling moths, go to: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7412.html

–3/23/2013 mgj