Home orchard and vineyard help

Asked September 25, 2019, 12:26 PM EDT

I'm having problems with my home orchard (now about 20 trees of assorted apples, peaches, pears, Asian pears, cherries, and even a few nut trees. Finally starting to get some fruit after some of the trees are now nearly 10 years old, others not quite so old. This year, apple crop was horrible, not many apples and what did grow is a bug infested mess. I sprayed dormant oil in March, then 3 or 4 times during the summer with orchard spray. Clearly I don't know what I'm doing! Can you recommend some educational resource? I've watched some YouTube videos, read a few things but am clearly missing something. I think the raccoons got my peaches. Birds and bugs got my grapes. Tempted to chain-saw prune the whole thing! Any on-line courses for home orchardists in central Michigan?

Livingston County Michigan

1 Response


I'm sorry you're having so many problems with your home orchard. Unfortunately, growing fruit is more difficult than some might expect!

What I first thought of was our MSU Extension Beginning Farmer Webinar Series.

There is a Fruit and Nuts section that you can check out. Grapes should be included with small fruit.

Some webinars that might be of interest are:

Planning and operating a mixed fruit orchard

PUBLISHED ON JULY 12, 2017 Learn how to plan and manage your own mixed fruit orchard and be profitable.

Basics of small fruit production

PUBLISHED ON JANUARY 11, 2016 Getting started with small fruit production

Pruning fruit trees

PUBLISHED ON JANUARY 30, 2019 Getting started with pruning fruit trees

Pruning small fruits

PUBLISHED ON MARCH 13, 2019 Getting started with pruning small fruits.

I have not watched these yet myself, so I’m not sure how focused on commercial production they are. But, I imagine there would be good info for commercial and hobby orchardists.

For some quick basics, we do have some Smart Gardening tip sheets on fruit on our MSU Extension Gardening in Michigan website.

You can also check out the general MSU Extension Fruit and Nuts page and sign up for the newsletter to get local and timely information on fruit issues.

Timing and pest identification are very important parts of an integrated pest management approach. Here are some guides directed at both homeowners and commercial growers on pest management in fruit plantings. Some of them are only available for a fee.

Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide 2018 from Purdue (has the pdf online)

2019 Fruit Management Guide from MSU Extension

Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide from The Ohio State University

Controlling Diseases and Insects in Home Fruit Plantings from The Ohio State University

Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings from Purdue

You might also want to consider getting a pesticide applicator license from MDARD. https://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-1569_16988_35289---,00.html

I know that’s a lot. Hopefully some of it helps. Please let me know if you have further questions!