I planted a small, backyard orchard last spring. It consists of three apple and three sweet-cherry trees. This spring I plan on adding another half-dozen plants for some extra variety (three apricot and three pear). One question I have involves apricot trees. What is a recommended orchard spray for these plants? I've heard that you shouldn't use sulfur-based products on them as they can burn the buds. What do you recommend to keep them healthy during the growing season? Also, is a metallic-copper product appropriate during the dormant season?
Oakland County Michigan
Yes you are correct that apricots are sensitive to sulfur. Copper products can be used in the early season but should be avoided during the growing season after the leaves come out. The same sprays you would use on peaches or sweet cherries will work on Apricots.
Pre bloom and bloom sprays for blossom brown rot.
Shuck split spray for plum curculio if that is a problem for you.
Tree fruit mix as harvest nears to control brown rot and Oriental fruit moth.
You should also spray the trunk in late June or early July to control peach tree borer.
OK, so it sounds like copper is fine to spray during the dormant season. While my apple and cherry trees are in leaf I've been using Bonide's natural "Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray Concentrate" (http://www.bonide.com/products/garden-naturals/view/217/citrus-fruit-and-nut-orchard-spray-concentra...). Sulfur and pyrethrin are its main ingredients, are you saying this is fine on apricots? If not, is one of these products a better option? http://www.bonide.com/products/insect-and-disease-control/view/201/fruit-tree-spray-concentrate, http://www.bonide.com/products/insect-and-disease-control/view/2011/fruit-tree-and-plant-guard Just looking for a little more specific guidance. so I don't inadvertently screw things up. :-)
Don't use sulfur on Apricots.
Looking at the different Bonide products.
The 'Organic' "Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray Concentrate" should not be used on apricots. It is the type of mix that certified organic growers would need to use.
The more traditional "Fruit Tree Spray" is a mixture of captan a fungicide and two insecticides malathion and carbaryl. These are all synthetic pesticides with public (General Use labels). This is a good mix to use on apples as the captan is a good material for apple scab. and the insecticides work for most direct apple pests.
Captan is weak against brown rot a major stone fruit disease.
The "Tree Fruit and Plant Guard" spray is also a mixture of a Pyrethyroid insecticide and two fungicides, which would give better control of brown rot but still not the best.
Neither one of the later two should be used during bloom because they contain insecticides which would be harmful to bees. Fungicides are recommended during bloom if you have wet conditions to control blossom brown rot. So you need to use a fungicide alone and not a mix to insecticides and fungicides. A good Bonide material to use is Funginol, before and during bloom. This material is only registered on stone fruit and not on apples and pears and cannot be used after shuck split on the fruit. Captan is a good fungicide to use on apples and pears during bloom. Captan is weak on powdery mildew if that is a problem to you.
My references to Bonide products are not an endorsement of their products over other brands that focus on home owner pesticide products. Other manufactures have similar products and mixes but some are unique.
There is a lot to learn about pest control in tree fruit and pesticide choice. The same product mis cannot be used all the time. Feel free to contact me directly for specific recommendations on fruit pest control.