Michael’s Apples Releases May 2014 Fruit Tree Care and Gardening Newsletter


I have a good fruit set on my Reno apples and plums, strawberries are blooming, everything is looking great as long the weather holds…. Here’s the newsletter:

May is the time to thin fruit, monitor and spray for pests, and planting the summer garden (well, not quite yet….).

I have some bare root fruit trees remaining; contact me for more information.

Due to budget cuts, the annual Master Gardener Plant Faire Extravaganza will be not be held this year; hopefully we will get a greenhouse next year.

Many local and area producers of fruit, vegetables, honey, beef, eggs, and more, can be found at the Nevada Grown website at: www.nevadagrown.com.

Thinning is an important step in producing larger, tastier fruit and will also help prevent damage from insects. Cherry trees do not need to be thinned; apples, pears, apricots, plums, peaches, and nectarines will benefit from thinning.

Fruit should be thinned when the fruit is ¼ to ½ inch in diameter; after the fruit is an inch in diameter, it is too late to improve fruit quality by thinning. To thin, first lightly run your fingers over the fruit; a good number of the fruits will fall off as some fruits were not completely fertilized or the tree is selectively pruning itself. Then, remove any damaged/deformed fruits. Note that apples and pears form on clusters with the center fruit larger than the rest; those are the ones I leave on the tree.

This year, I’m thinning apples and pears to 12” apart per limb; peaches and nectarines 8” apart and plums and apricots 6” apart. The object is to leave as much fruit as possible, but remove enough so that the remaining fruits will not touch when mature (insect larvae tend to bore into fruit where they touch).

Codling moths are the most damaging pest of apples and pears. The unseasonable spring weather (that phrase is in here every year….) will result in an early hatch. I reached biofix on April 17 at our house in the old southwest in Reno. The weather cooled and a second biofix (1B) occurred last weekend (May 3). My calculations of past weather and predicted weather indicate the eggs should start hatching this weekend, May 10; I plan to spray May 9 and 16th. As a reference, all blossoms are off my apple trees and the apples are 3/8” to ½” in diameter.

For complete info on codling moth, click http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7412.html.
Do take a look at their discussion and link on ‘Bagging Fruit’. I did bag several hundred apples in past years with mixed results; some of the apples already had codling moth eggs laid and/or hatched when I put on the bags. So, if you plan to bag the apples, I suggest thinning, first (and only) spray, then bagging the fruit. The cheapest and easiest bags to affix were the cheap ‘zip-lock’ sandwich bags.

If you have need of a pest control person, try Norris Environmental Services http://www.norrisenvsol.com. They are knowledgeable and have served the Reno/Sparks area for many years.

Other pests and diseases seen in May include aphids, powdery mildew, and root weevils. Look at the growth tips of the limbs for the dull gray coating that is powdery mildew. Generally, only one or two limbs will have it on new growth. Prune off the infected portion back to a branch or bud, dispose of the affected sprouts, and spray a disinfectant (like Lysol) on your pruning tools afterward.

Aphid damage will also occur on new growth and will appear as curled, deformed leaves especially on peaches, nectarines, and cherries. If only one or two places are infected, just squash the little bugs. If the whole tree is infected, it will be too late for dormant oil, but attach a spray nozzle to your water hose and spray water into the affected limbs from all sides. Aphids do not like humidity and the force of the spray will knock the aphids off and onto the ground. Being fat boys (actually all females) with skinny legs, the aphids will not be able to get back into the tree. Spray the tree daily, if possible in the morning, as the aphids knocked off the tree will slowly cook in the noonday sun.

Root Weevils are a pest that eats the edges of leaves resulting in a serrated leaf edge. They attack many landscape plants including peonies, lilacs, and many others; I use the lilies of the valley as my indicator plant. Root weevils come out at night and live and hide under rocks, rock walls, and wood retaining walls. Complete info, photos, and controls can be found at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8131.pdf.

I have been harvesting radishes, lettuce, and cilantro from the spring garden. My peas are blooming and I will pick the first ones tomorrow or Wednesday.

I planted my tomatoes, peppers and okra Sunday; no, I haven’t gone crazy(ier). I am cheating and putting mine under a 4 ft high 3 ft wide hoop house (or hoop tent). Walls of water will also allow earlier planting. The folk lore tale about planting when the snow is off Peavine, is partially correct…if it is also Memorial Day weekend and the 10 day forecast doesn’t include a frost/freeze early in June. Or take the risk, the nurseries will have replacements; help stimulate the economy and support the horticulture industry. Beans, squash, cukes, and most other summer vegetable seeds can be planted about a week or so before Memorial Day.

Enjoy the spring weather, I will, but will remain nervous until mid June…..