No more bugs in tree fruit, please!

Asked March 9, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

The past few years, I've lost almost all of my apples and plums to bugs burrowed inside the fruits. I have peaches and pears and figs maturing and starting to produce as well, and I have a feeling it's going to be more of the same. I've never sprayed them with anything, and I don't even know where to begin to do research on what to use, but I want to be able to use the fruit I'm growing!

Kent County Delaware

1 Response

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Delaware Cooperative Extension. It is nearly impossible to grow fruit trees in our area without some management of insect pests and diseases. First, you want to have your trees healthy and in good vigor, so maintain proper fertility (take a soil sample and have it checked by the UD Soil Testing Lab for the nutrient levels if need be), water trees during times of drought, and prune them for optimal growth.
What you describe as burrowing insects may be plum curculio, a damaging insect pest in our area. It is important that you control insects on fruit trees early in the season. Remember that you will need to apply insecticides for insects, and fungicides for disease problems. Most fungicides are preventative and will not cure existing diseases. Spray schedules are followed according to the stage of bloom and fruit development. Also, please use chemicals according to their labels, and keep our bee populations in mind. There are some more environmentally friendly choices to look for such as kaolin clay, oils, and garlic.
We will be revising fact sheets for fruit trees in home orchards. In the meantime, please refer to the Virginia Tech web page for their recommendations at:
http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/456/456-018/Section_3_Home_Fruit-Disease_and_Insects-1.pdf
Please let us know if you have questions. Good luck with your fruit crop this season!

Nancy