The day has gone, probably forever, when
setting out fruit trees and
giving them occasional cultivation, "plowing up the orchard" once in
several years, would produce fruit. Apples and pears and peaches have
occupied no preferred position against the general invasion of the
realm of horticulture by insect and fungous enemies. The fruits have,
indeed, suffered more than most plants. Nevertheless there is this
encouraging fact: that, though the fruits may have been severely
attacked, the means we now have of fighting fruit-tree enemies, if
thoroughly used, as a rule are more certain of accomplishing their
purpose, and keeping the enemies completely at bay, than are similar
weapons in any other line of horticultural work.
With fruit trees, as with vegetables and flowers, the most important
precaution to be taken against insects and disease is to _have them
in a healthy, thriving, growing condition_. It is a part of Nature's
law of the survival of the fittest that any backward or weakling plant
or tree seems to fall first prey to the ravages of destructive forces.
For these reasons the double necessity of maintaining at all times good
fertilization and thorough cultivation will be seen. In addition to
these two factors, careful attention in the matter of pruning is
essential in keeping the trees in a healthy, robust condition. As
explained in a previous chapter, the trees should be started right by
pruning the first season to the open-head or vase shape, which
furnishes the maximum of light and air to all parts of the tree. Three
or four main branches should form the basis of the head, care being
taken not to have them start from directly opposite points on the
trunk, thus forming a crotch and leaving the tree liable to splitting
from winds or excessive crops. If the tree is once started right,
further pruning will give little trouble. Cut out limbs which cross, or
are likely to rub against each other, or that are too close together;
and also any that are broken, decayed, or injured in any way. For trees
thus given proper attention from the start, a short jackknife will be
the only pruning instrument required.
The case of the old orchard is more difficult. Cutting out too many of
the old, large limbs at one time is sure to give a severe shock to the
vitality of the tree. A better plan is, first, to cut off _close_
all suckers and all small new-growth limbs, except a few of the most
promising, which may be left to be developed into large limbs; and then
as these new limbs grow on, gradually to cut out, using a fine-tooth
saw and painting the exposed surfaces, the surplus old wood. Apples
will need more pruning than the other fruits. Pears and cherries need
the least; cutting back the ends of limbs enough to keep the trees in
good form, with the removal of an occasional branch for the purpose of
letting in light and air, is all the pruning they will require. Of
course trees growing on rich ground, and well cultivated, will require
more cutting back than those growing under poorer conditions. A further
purpose of pruning is to effect indirectly a thinning of the fruit, so
that what is grown will be larger and more valuable, and also that the
trees may not become exhausted by a few exceptionally heavy crops. On
trees that have been neglected and growing slowly the bark sometimes
becomes hard and set. In such cases it will prove beneficial to scrape
the bark and give a wash applied with an old broom. Whitewash is good
for this purpose, but soda or lye answers the same purpose and is less
disagreeably conspicuous. Slitting the bark of trunks and the largest
limbs is sometimes resorted to, care being taken to cut through the
bark only; but such practice is objectionable because it leaves ready
access to some forms of fungous disease and to borers.
Where extra fine specimens of fruit are desired, thinning is practiced.
It helps also to prevent the tree from being overtaxed by excessive
crops. But where pruning is thoroughly done this trouble is usually
avoided. Peaches and Japan plums are especially benefited by thinning,
as they have a great tendency to overbear. The spread of fruit
diseases, especially rot in the fruit itself, is also to some extent
Of fruit-tree enemies there are some large sorts which may do great
damage in short order--rabbits and field mice. They may be kept away by
mechanical protection, such as wire, or by heaping the earth up to a
height of twelve inches about the tree trunk. Or they may be caught
with poisoned baits, such as boiled grain in which a little Rough on
Rats or similar poison has been mixed. The former method for the small
home garden is little trouble, safer to Fido and Tabby, and the most
reliable in effect.
Insects and scale diseases are not so easily managed; and that brings
us to the question of spraying and of sprays.
For large orchards the spray must, of course, be applied with powerful
and expensive machinery. For the small fruit garden a much simpler and
very moderate priced apparatus may be acquired. The most practical of
these is the brass-tank compressed-air sprayer, with extension rod and
mist-spray nozzle. Or one of the knapsack sprayers may be used. Either
of these will be of great assistance not only with the fruit trees, but
everywhere in the garden. With care they will last a good many years.
Whatever type you get, be sure to get a brass machine; as cheaper ones,
made of other metal, quickly corrode from contact with the strong
The insects most commonly attacking the apple are the codlin-moth,
tent-caterpillar, canker-worm and borer. The codlin-moth lays its eggs
on the fruit about the time of the falling of the blossoms, and the
larvae when hatched eat into the young fruit and cause the ordinary
wormy apples and pears. Owing to these facts, it is too late to reach
the trouble by spraying after the calyx closes on the growing fruit.
Keep close watch and spray immediately upon the fall of the blossoms,
and repeat the spraying a week or so (not more than two) later. For
spray use Paris green at the rate of 1 lb., or arsenate of lead (paste
or powder, less of the latter: see accompanying directions) at the rate
of 4 lbs. to 100 gallons of water, being careful to have a thorough
mixture. During July, tie strips of burlap or old bags around the
trunks, and every week or so destroy all caterpillars caught in these
traps. The tent-caterpillar may be destroyed while in the egg state, as
these are plainly visible around the smaller twigs in circular,
brownish masses. (See illustration.) Upon hatching, also, the nests are
obtrusively visible and may be wiped out with a swab of old bag, or
burned with a kerosene torch. Be sure to apply this treatment before
the caterpillar begins to leave the nest. The treatment recommended for
codlin-moths is also effective for the tent-caterpillar.
The canker-worm is another leaf-feeding enemy, and can be taken care of
by the Paris green or arsenate spray.
The railroad-worm, a small white maggot which eats a small path in all
directions through the ripening fruit, cannot be reached by spraying,
as he starts life inside the fruit; but where good clean tillage is
practiced and no fallen fruit is left to lie and decay under the trees,
he is not apt to give much trouble.
The borer's presence is indicated by the dead, withered appearance of
the bark, beneath which he is at work, and also by small amounts of
sawdust where he entered. Dig him out with a sharp pocket-knife, or
kill him inside with a piece of wire.
The most troublesome disease of the apple, especially in wet seasons,
is the apple-scab, which disfigures the fruit, both in size and in
appearance, as it causes blotches and distortions. Spray with Bordeaux
mixture, 5-5-50, or 3-3-50 (see formulas below) three times: just
before the blossoms open, just as they fall, and ten days to two weeks
after they fall. The second spraying is considered the most important.
The San Jose scale is of course really an insect, though in appearance
it seems a disease. It is much more injurious than the untrained fruit
grower would suppose, because indirectly so. It is very tiny, being
round in outline, with a raised center, and only the size of a small
pinhead. Where it has once obtained a good hold it multiplies very
rapidly, makes a scaly formation or crust on the branches, and causes
small red-edged spots on the fruit (see illustration). For trees once
infested, spray thoroughly both in fall, after the leaves drop, and
again in spring, _before_ growth begins. Use lime-sulphur wash, or
miscible oil, one part to ten of water, thoroughly mixed.
Sour cherries are more easily grown than the sweet varieties, and are
less subject to the attacks of fruit enemies. Sweet cherries are
troubled by the curculio, or fruit-worm, which attacks also peaches and
plums. Cherries and plums may be sprayed, when most of the blossoms are
off, with a strong arsenate of lead solution, 5 to 8 lbs. to 100 gals.
water. In addition to this treatment, where the worms have once got a
start, the beetles may be destroyed by spreading a sheet around and
beneath the tree, and every day or so shaking or jarring them off into
it, as described below.
Do not spray peaches. For the curculio, within a few days after the
flowers are off, take a large sheet of some cheap material to use as a
catcher. For large orchards there is a contrivance of this sort,
mounted on a wheelbarrow frame, but for the home orchard a couple of
sheets laid upon the ground, or one with a slit from one side to the
center, will answer. If four short, sharp-pointed stakes are fastened
to the corners, and three or four stout hooks and eyes are placed to
reunite the slit after the sheet is placed about the tree, the work can
be more thoroughly done, especially on uneven ground. After the sheet
is placed, with a stout club or mallet, padded with a heavy sack or
something similar to prevent injury to the bark, give a few sharp
blows, well up from the ground. This work should be done on a cloudy
day, or early in the morning--the colder the better--as the beetles are
then inactive. If a considerable number of beetles are caught the
operation should be repeated every two or three days. Continue until
the beetles disappear.
Peaches are troubled also by borers, in this case indicated by masses
of gum, usually about the crown. Dig out or kill with a wire, as in the
case of the apple-borer. Look over the trees for borers every spring,
or better, every spring and fall.
Another peach enemy is the "yellows," indicated by premature ripening
of the fruit and the formation of stunted leaf tufts, of a light yellow
color. This disease is contagious and has frequently worked havoc in
whole sections. Owing to the work of the Agricultural Department and
the various State organizations it is now held in check. The only
remedy is to cut and burn the trees and replant, in the same places if
desired, as, the disease does not seem to be carried by the soil.
Pears are sometimes affected with a scab similar to the apple-scab, and
this is combated by the same treatment--three sprayings with Bordeaux.
A blight which causes the leaves suddenly to turn black and die and
also kills some small branches and produces sores or wounds on large
branches and trunk, offers another difficulty. Cut out and burn all
affected branches and scrape out all sores. Disinfect all sores with
corrosive sublimate solution--1 to 1000--or with a torch, and paint
over at once.
Plums have many enemies but fortunately they can all be effectively
checked. First is the curculio, to be treated as described above.
For leaf-blight--spotting and dropping off of the leaves about
midsummer--spray with Bordeaux within a week or so after the falling of
the blossoms. This treatment will also help to prevent fruit-rot. In
addition to the spraying, however, thin out the fruit so that it does
not hang thickly enough for the plums to come in contact with each
In a well kept and well sprayed orchard black-knot is not at all likely
to appear. It is very manifest wherever it starts, causing ugly, black,
distorted knarls, at first on the smaller limbs. Remove and burn
immediately, and keep a sharp watch for more. As this disease is
supposed to be carried by the wind, see to it that no careless neighbor
is supplying you with the germs.
As will have been seen from the above, spraying poisons are of two
kinds: those that work by contact, which must be used for most sucking
insects, and germs and fungous diseases; and those that poison
internally, used for leaf-eating insects. Of the former sort, Bordeaux
mixture is the standard, although within the last few years it has been
to a considerable extent replaced by lime-sulphur mixtures, which are
described below. Bordeaux is made in various forms. That usually used
is the 5-5-50, or 5 lbs. copper sulphate, 5 lbs. unslaked lime, 50
gals. water. To save the trouble of making up the mixture each time it
is needed make a stock solution as follows: dissolve the copper
sulphate in water at the rate of 1 lb. to 1 gal. This should be done
the day before, or at least several hours before, the Bordeaux is
wanted for use. Suspend the sulphate crystals in a cloth or old bag
just below the surface of the water. Then slake the lime in a tub or
tight box, adding the water a little at a time, until the whole attains
the consistency of thick milk. When necessary, add water to this
mixture if it is kept too long; never let it dry out. When ready to
spray, pour the stock copper sulphate solution into the tank in the
proportion of 5 gals. to every 50 of spray required. Add water to
amount required. Then add stock lime solution, first diluting about
one-half with water and straining. The amount of lime stock solution to
be used is determined as follows: at the druggist's get an ounce of
yellow prussiate of potash dissolved in a pint of water, with a quill
in the cork of the bottle so that it may be dropped out. (It is
poison.) When adding the stock lime solution as directed above,
continue until the prussiate testing solution when dropped into the
Bordeaux mixture will no longer turn brown; then add a little more lime
to be on the safe side. All this sounds like a formidable task, but it
is quite simple when you really get at it. Remember that all you need
is a few pounds each of quicklime and copper sulphate, an ounce of
prussiate of potash and a couple of old kegs or large pails, in which
to keep the stock solutions,
Lime-sulphur mixtures can be bought, or mixed by the home orchardist.
They have the advantages over Bordeaux that they do not discolor the
foliage or affect the appearance of the fruit. Use according to
directions, usually about 1 part to 30 of water. These may be used at
the same times and for the same purposes as Bordeaux.
Lime-sulphur wash is used largely in commercial orcharding, but it is a
nasty mess to prepare and must be used in late fall or winter. For the
home orchard one of the miscible oils now advertised will be found more
satisfactory. While they cost more, there is no time or expense for
preparation, as they mix with cold water and are immediately ready for
use. They are easier to apply, more comfortable to handle, and will not
so quickly rot out pumps and spraying apparatus. Like the sulphur wash,
use only during late fall and winter.
Kerosene emulsion is made by dissolving Ivory, soft, whale-oil, or tar
soap in hot water and adding (away from the stove, please!) kerosene
(or crude oil); 1/2 lb. soap, 1 gal. water, 2 gals, kerosene.
Immediately place in a pail and churn or pump until a thick, lathery
cream results. This is the stock solution: for use, dilute with five to
fifteen times as much water, according to purpose applied for--on
dormant fruit trees, 5 to 7 times; on foliage, 10 or even 15.
Of the poisons for eating-insects, arsenate of lead is the best for use
in the fruit orchard, because it will not burn the foliage as Paris
green is apt to do, and because it stays on longer. It can be used in
Bordeaux and lime-sulphur mixtures, thus killing two bugs with one
spray. It comes usually in the form of a paste--though there is now a
brand in powder form (which I have not yet tried). This should be
worked up with the fingers (it is not poison to touch) or a small
wooden paddle, until thoroughly mixed, in a small quantity of water and
then strained into the sprayer. Use, of the paste forms, from one-
fourth to one lb. in 20 gals, clear water.
Paris green is the old standard. With a modern duster it may be blown
on pure without burning, if carefully done. Applied thus it should be
put on during a still morning, before the dew goes. It is safer to use
as a spray, first making a paste with a small quantity of water, and
then adding balance of water. Keep constantly stirred while spraying.
If lime is added, weight for weight with the green, the chances of
burning will be greatly reduced. For orchard work, 1 lb. to 100 gals.
water is the usual strength.
The accompanying table will enable the home orchardist to find quickly
the trouble with, and remedy for, any of his fruit trees.
The quality of fruit will depend very largely upon the care exercised
in picking and storing. Picking, carelessly done, while it may not at
the time show any visible bad results, will result in poor keeping and
rot. If the tissue cells are broken, as many will be by rough handling,
they will be ready to cause rotten spots under the first favorable
conditions, and then the rot will spread. Most of the fruits of the
home garden, which do not have to undergo shipping, will be of better
quality where they ripen fully on the tree. Pears, however, are often
ripened in the dark and after picking, especially the winter sorts.
Apples and pears for winter use should be kept, if possible, in a cold,
dark place, where there is no artificial heat, and where the air will
be moist, but never wet, and where the thermometer will not fall below
thirty-two degrees. Upon exceptionally cold nights the temperature may
be kept up by using an oil stove or letting in heat from the furnace
cellar, if that is adjacent. In such a place, store the fruit loosely,
on ventilated shelves, not more than six or eight inches deep. If they
must be kept in a heated place, pack in tight boxes or barrels, being
careful to put away only perfect fruit, or pack in sand or leaves.
Otherwise they will lose much in quality by shriveling, due to lack of
moisture in the atmosphere. With care they may be had in prime quality
until late in the following spring.
FRUIT | PEST | REMEDY | TIMES TO APPLY
| | | AND WHEN
Apple | Apple-scab | Bordeaux 5-5-50, or summer | 3.--b B O--a B
| | lime-sulphur spray | F--f 14 d.
| | |
| Apple-maggot | Pick up and destroy all | (See key below.)
| or | fallen fruits |
| Railroad worm| Dig out or kill with wire; |
| Borer | search for in fall and spring|
| | |
| Codlin moth | Arsenate of lead, 4 in 100; |
| | or Paris Green, 1 in 200. | 2.--a B F-f
| | Burlap bands on truck |20 d.
| | for traps during July |
| | |
| Cankerworm | Same as above |
| | |
| Tent- | Same as above, also wipe out |
| caterpillar | out or burn nests |
| | |
| Blister-mite | Lime-sulphur wash; kerosene | Late fall or
| | emulsion (dilute 5 times) | early spring.
| | or miscible oil (1 in 10 gal.)|
| | |
| Bud-moth | Arsenate of lead or Paris | 2.--When leaves
| | Green | appear--b B O.
Cherry| Leaf blight | Bordeaux 5-5-50 | 4.--b B C--a
| | | calyx closes--f
| | | 15 d--f 15 d.
| | |
| Curculio | Arsenate of lead, 8 in 100. | 1.--a B F.
| | Curculio catcher (see Plum) | 3 times a week
| | |
| Black-knot | Cut out and burn at once |
| | (see Plum) |
| | |
| Fruit-rot | Pick before fully ripe. |
| | spread out in cool airy room |
Peach | Borer | Dig out or kill with wire |
| Yellows | Pull out and burn |
| | tree--replant |
| | |
| Curculio | Do not spray. Catch on sheets |
| | (see Plum) |
| | |
| Brown-rot | Summer lime-sulphur; open |
| | pruning; pick rotten fruit | 3.--When fruit
| | | is half
| | | grown--f 10
| | | d--f 10 d.
| | |
| Leaf-curl | Bordeaux 5-5-50; lime-sulphur | 1--b buds swell,
| | wash | fall or early
| | | spring.
Pear | Blight | Cut out diseased branches; |
| | clean out sores; disinfect |
| | with corrosive sublimate 1 |
| | in 1000; paint over |
| | |
| Scab | Bordeaux 5-5-50, or summer | 2.--b B O--a B
| | sulphur (see Apple) | O--f 14 d.
| | |
| Blister-mite | |
Plum | Leaf-blight | Bordeaux or summer sulphur | 1.--After fruits
| | | set.
| Fruit-rot | Same; also thin fruits so as |
| Black-knot | not to touch (see Cherry) |
| Curculio | also have neighboring trees |
| | cleaned up |
| | Jar down on sheets stretched |
| | beneath trees and destroy | a B F--cool
| | | mornings-3
| | | times a week.
Any | San Jose | Lime-sulphur wash, kerosene | Late fall or
| scale | emulsion, 5 times diluted; | early spring.
| | miscible oil, 1 in 10 gals |
| | |
| Oyster-shell | Kerosene emulsion | May or June,
| scale | | when young
| | | whitish lice
| | | appear.
a-After. b-Before. d-Days. f-Follow up in. B-Blossoms. O-Open. F-Fall.
Do not let yourself be discouraged from growing your own fruit by the
necessity for taking good care of your trees. After all, you do not
have to plant them every year, as you do vegetables, and they yield a
splendid return on the small investment required. Do not fail to set
out at least a few this year with the full assurance that your
satisfaction is guaranteed by the facts in the case.