More About Your Fruit Trees

by Don Trotter

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Hello fellow Earthlings and welcome to the second installment of "My Fruits' Better Than Your Fruit". In this installment we will be covering "Dormant Spraying" of our deciduous fruit trees in order to help with disease control and the controlling of some boring insect pests. So let's take a walk down by the fruit trees...

At this time of year we should remember that the things that we do now affect the fruit crop we are expecting this spring and summer. This is why we should place a great deal of importance on the dormant treatment of our trees. Now is the easiest time of year to fight insect and disease problems because they are as inactive as the tree is. The trees are much easier to work in when they are without leaves as well. Let's take a look at some dormant sprays at this time.

Copper Sulfate- This is the most versatile of the dormant spray products and it is approved for use in certified organic agriculture. This product can be used on all of your dormant spraying projects without fear of problems. Remember that copper is the trace element that makes fruit sweet, so don't worry if you are liberal with the application. As with all commercial products, use this material only after reading the label and application directions thoroughly.

Lime/sulfur- Excellent dormant spray and this product is also good for use on active powdery mildew problems. Can be used on most dormant spraying applications, however do not use lime/ sulfur on your apricot trees. Lime/ sulfur also has some insecticidal value and can be used to control hibernating bad guys on your trees.

Baking Soda- This one is my favorite. Good old fashioned Arm and Hammer Baking soda mixed with water, a little copper sulfate and a couple of drops of dish soap is my favorite concoction for dormant spraying. If you just want to use the baking soda, go ahead, but you will need the soap as a wetting agent so the spray clings to the plants that you are spraying. Use the baking soda at an application rate of between six and eight tablespoons per gallon water. I also like to mix baking soda with three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of prepared spray. The hydrogen peroxide effervesces and gets a lot of the overwintering fungi and disease causing bacteria in the cracks and crevices of the tree.

Always use prepared products per the instructions on the label provided by the manufacturer. This will assure proper usage of the product and better results in the garden.

Last time we discussed the treatment of the soil and feeding of our fruit trees. Now that that project has been completed and we've decided which type of dormant spray we will be using , this is probably as good a time as any to get to work. Take your hose end sprayer or your conventional pump sprayer down to the fruit trees and begin spraying. I like to start at the trunk of the tree and give it a real good coat of spray before I do the rest of the tree. This is the most important part of the tree to thoroughly coat, so I do it first. Coat the rest of the tree equally as well and then move on to the next. After all of the trees have been sprayed, clean up your sprayer and grab all the stuff, store it in a dry spot because we will be needing to repeat this operation two more times during the cool season. If you do not own a good pump sprayer, I strongly suggest you invest the money in one. They are normally less than thirty dollars and will last for years and years. I really like using pump sprayers for dormant spraying because they are more reliable than hose-end models.

I promise that this will not interrupt your plans for Super Bowl Sunday. By that time your fruit trees will be ready to go and all you'll have to do is water. Dormant spraying your fruit trees only takes a little while and the results will definitely please you in the coming summer.

Next time we will be covering pruning techniques for our fruit trees. That will be the final installment on this subject until mid-spring. We go to the rose garden for the entire month of January. See you in the Garden!

Got Questions? Email the Doc at
Check out Donald Trotter's books Natural Gardening A-Z, The Complete Natural Gardener and Rose Gardening A-Z at

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