Worms in apples!

Asked March 27, 2013, 4:57 PM EDT

We moved into a new house last year and inherited a wonderful backyard orchard. We have two cherry trees, a pear tree, a very prolific apricot tree and a big apple tree. The problem is, over half of our apples had worms in them! Such a bummer because we had to toss so many apples! When you cut them open, there would be some black moldy looking substance and a hole in the center of the apple, and sometimes even a live whitish worm in there.
We have small children and pets, and we buy almost all organic fruit and veggies, and we don't want to spray any toxins on our apples that would put them in the "dirty dozen" catagory. What can we do to stop these worms but keep our apples as organic as possible? Bagging the apples is not an option... the tree is much to large.

Also... any advice on increasing the amount of pears and cherries we get, again, as organically as possible?

Thank you so much!
Megan

El Paso County Colorado trees and shrubs stone fruit

1 Response

Hello Megan,

Thank you for your questions regarding fruit trees. It sounds like you have a fabulous yard.

The worms you are finding in the apples are from the codling moth. Getting the worm out of the apple organically is a difficult task. The worm is the larval, or eating stage, of the codling moth. For some control, try the following in combination with each other: Thin apples to prevent apples from touching. This cultural practice prevents larvae from using apples as leverage to bore into adjacent apples. Band corrugated cardboard around the trunk of apple trees when the larvae begin crawling down trunks. This event generally occurs with the first generation of codling moths from mid to late June, then is repeated again by the second generation of codling moth larvae from mid to late July. Check the banded cardboard weekly for larvae and pupae which hide inside the cardboard. Destroy these inhabitants by crushing. Mix molasses and water using a 1:10 ratio in a wide-mouth container. Suspend this homemade "hooch trap" from the apple tree. The trap will catch adult codling moths (and a mix of other moths from the neighborhood). Consider sustained releases of large numbers of Trichogramma wasps on an experimental basis. Recent research suggests some codling moth control by these little wasps, barely visible to the naked eye. Trichogramma wasps parasitize the eggs of codling moths. These wasps are not aggressive and are available through specialty gardening catalogues.It is also very imoprtant to keep the ground under the trees clean from debris. Any leaves and dead apples on the ground often attract the moth. Now on to your second question regarding how to increase pear and cherry production. Pruning fruit trees each year is important to stimulate new growth and budding. Also a late spring frost will significantly lower production and can also kill the new buds that produce the fruit. Pruning you can do, but late frost is unavoidable and up to Mother Nature!Please let me know if you need me to email a link showing how to prune fruit trees.Thanks again for your questions!