Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees with Solutions to the Problems

Pests and diseases of fruit trees abound. You will soon discover, probably during the first summer, that fruit-trees have enemies and that they don't need just cultivation and feeding, but also protection. In another page we have pictures of some of the garden pests being described below for identification purposes.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Fireblight

The pear, apple, and quince are liable to one mysterious disease which it is almost impossible to guard against or cure, the fireblight. Fire blight gets its name from the burnt appearance of affected blossoms and twigs. The disease still remains a disheartening mystery, and is more fatal to the pear than to the other fruits mentioned.

I have had thrifty young trees, just coming into bear suddenly turn black in both wood and foliage, appearing in the distance as if scorched by a blast from a furnace. In another instance a large mature tree was attacked, losing in a summer half its boughs.

These were cut out, and the remainder of the tree appeared healthy during the following summer, and bore a good crop of fruit. The disease often attacks but a single branch or a small portion of a tree. The authorities advise that everything should be cut away at once below all evidence of infection and burned.

To prevent fireblight you will fine that trees that are fertilized with wood-ash and a moderate amount of lime and salt, rather than with stimulating manures, will escape the disease.

If the ground is poor, however, and the growth feeble, barnyard manure or its equivalent is needed as a mulch.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Apple Blight

Apple blight is another similar disease. Again, no better remedy is known than to cut out the infected part at once. In coping with insects we can act more intelligently, and therefore successfully. We can study the characters of our enemies, and learn their vulnerable points.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Aphids

aphids crawling all over a rose budThe black and green aphids, or plant-lice, are often very troublesome.

Aphids appear in immense numbers on the young and tender shoots of trees, and by

sucking their juices check or enfeeble the growth. They are the milch-cows of ants, which are usually found very busy among them.

Nature apparently has made ample provision for this pest, for it has been estimated that "one aphid individual in five generations might be the progenitor of six thousand millions."

Aphids are easily destroyed. Prepare a barrel of tobacco juice by steeping stems for several days, until the juice is of a dark brown color; we then mix this with soap-suds.

A pail is filled, and the ends of the shoots, where the insects are assembled, are bent down and dipped in the liquid. One dip is enough. Such parts as cannot be dipped are sprinkled liberally with a garden-syringe, and the application repeated from time to time, as long as any of the aphids remain.

The liquid can be so strong that it can damage the leaves; therefore it is better to test it on one or two subjects before using it extensively. Apply it in the evening.

8 More ways to Prevent or Treat Aphid Damage

1. Encourage predators into your garden such as ladybirds, spiders and hoverflies.
2. Go easy on the nitrogen fertilizers as the softer growth encourages aphids.
3. Inspect vulnerable plants and break off and discard any affected pieces.
4. Plant pot marigolds and nasturtiums close to any plants you want to protect.
5. Spray affected plants with derris or very diluted washing-up liquid.
6. Hang up strips of fat in the trees to attract blue tits who love eating aphid eggs.
7. Use resistant plant varieties to start off with.
8. Burn or bury heavily damaged plants.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Apple Scale

Apple scale attacks weak, feeble-growing trees, and can usually be removed by scrubbing the bark with the preparation given above.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Apple Tree Borer

The apple tree borer is another very formidable pest, often destroying a young tree before its presence is known. I once found a young tree in a distant part of my place that I could push over with my finger.

In June a brown and white striped beetle deposits its eggs in the bark of the apple-tree near the ground. The larvae when hatched bore their way into the wood, and will soon destroy a small tree. However, you will soon see their evidence if you are observant.

Sawdust exudes from the holes by which they entered, and hopefully you are able to discover them before they have done much harm. I prefer to cut them out with a sharp, pointed knife, and make sure that they are dead; but a wire thrust into the hole will usually pierce and kill them.

Wood-ashes mounded up against the base of the tree are said to be a preventive. In the fall it can be spread, and makes one of the best of fertilizers.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Codling Moth

The codling moth, or apple a codling moth worm is another enemy that should be fought resolutely, for it destroys millions of pounds of fruit. Who has not seen the ground covered with premature and decaying fruit in July, August, and September?

Each specimen will be found perforated by a worm hole. The egg has been laid in the calyx of the young apple, where it soon hatches into a small white grub, which burrows into the core, throwing out behind it a brownish powder.

After about  three weeks of eating the apple it eats its way out, shelters itself under the scaly bark of the tree. If allowed to be scaly, or in some other hiding-place, spins a cocoon, and in about three weeks comes out a moth, and is ready to help destroy other apples. This insect probably constitutes one of nature's methods of preventing trees from overbearing; but it so exaggerates its mission that it has become an insufferable nuisance.

Natural control of codling moth recommend that trees should be scraped free of all scales in the spring, and washed with a solution of soft soap. About the 1st of July, wrap bandages of old cloth, carpet, or rags of any kind around the trunk and larger limbs.

The apple worms will appreciate such excellent cover, and will swarm into these hiding places to undergo transformation into moths. Therefore the wraps of rags should be taken down often, thrown into scalding water, dried, and replaced. The fruit as it falls should be picked up at once and carried to the pigs, and, when practicable, worm-infested specimens should be taken from the trees before the worm escapes.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Canker Worm

The canker worm in those localities where it is destructive can be guarded against by bands of tar-covered canvas around the trees. The moth cannot fly, but crawls up the tree in the late autumn and during mild spells in winter, but especially throughout the spring until May.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Tent Caterpillar

We have all seen the flaunting, unsightly abodes of the tent caterpillar and the foliage-denuded branches about them. Fortunately these are not stealthy enemies. You only to look very early in the morning or late in the evening to find them all bunched up in their nests. These should be taken down and destroyed.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Cherry and Pear Slugs

Cherry and pear slugs, "small, slimy, dark brown worms," can be destroyed by dusting the trees with dry wood ashes or air-slacked lime.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Mice

Field mice are often found around young trees, especially during the winter, working beneath the snow. Unless heaps of rubbish are left here and there as shelter for these little pests, one or two good cats will keep the acre free of them. Treading the snow compactly around the tree should also be done from time to time.

Pests and Diseases of Fruit Trees: Apple Scale

Finally be nice to the birds! They are the best of all insect destroyers, along with frogs in a pond tht should be close-by, or having your orchard enclosed and allowing a family of Khaki ducks to feed on fallen fruit and insects.

Put up plenty of bird houses for backyard birds such as bluebirds and wrens, and treat the little brown song-sparrow as one of your stanchest friends.

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