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Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2021

Fruit and Nut Pest Control


Folks seem to think that fruit trees are hard to grow. Too many bugs and diseases. Well – it's just not true. Unless you are listening to the wrong advice. Here's a simple tutorial.


Assuming you planted the fruit trees properly, soft organic pest control will provide less work and more tasty production. We do have a few pests to deal with because many of the fruit trees we all try to grow are not native to north Texas. That's the case everywhere. Therefore the plants are in at least a wee bit of stress and thus subject to a few insect and disease issues.



Soft organic pest control is good for beneficial life but not for pests

Organic pest control protects beneficial insects, wildlife, pets and the fruit crops


For control of aphids, scale, plum curculio, peach leaf curl or any other fungus, bacteria or virus, here's the program.


Spray Schedule: The first thing to understand is that any kind of toxic chemical spray or soil drench is nuts. That approach doesn't work. It kills more beneficial insects and helpful microbes than the targeted pests and contaminates the soil, air, ponds, lakes, streams and ground water. It also injures birds, lizards, toads, frogs, pets, your grandmother, and the postman. It just does not make any sense to do. Here's what does make sense.


Peach leaf curl is a common fungal disease that is controllable with the Sick Tree Treatment and organic sprays

Fungal diseases that cause fruit, leaves, and tubers to develop areas of hardened and sometimes cracked tissue


1st spraying: Spray Garrett Juice or Garrett Juice Plus and cornmeal tea or garlic at pink bud, before flowers have opened. Also drench the root zone at 1 gal. of the mixture per 1000 sq. ft.
2nd spraying: Use the same mix after flowers have fallen.
3rd spraying: About June 15th (later in more northern locations).
4th spraying: Last week in August through mid September. Additional sprayings are OK as time and budget allow.


General: Trees should be planted high with natural organic techniques. Trunk flares should be easily visible. Soil should not be cultivated around trees to avoid damage to feeder roots. No food crops should ever have bare soil in the root zone. Soil should be covered with native shredded mulches and/or cover crops. Organic fertilizer should be applied early spring, early summer and fall. It's also helpful to apply mycorrhizal fungus products to the root zone.


Insect Management: Trichogramma wasps will control all caterpillar pests: Release 10,000 - 20,000 eggs per acre or residential lot at bud break. Repeat in 3 weeks if the budget allows but one application is enough for most sites.


Two no-nos - bare soil under trees and buried flares


Disease Management: Minor and major diseases are controlled for the most part by simply applying the basic program. Pecan nut casebearers on pecans are controlled by the trichogramma wasps. Pecan scab, peach leaf curl, etc., are controlled by maintaining stress-free trees and spraying cornmeal or garlic. Severely stressed trees should be treated with the Sick Tree Treatment procedure.


For more details on pest control and other related subjects, refer to my books, Organic Management for the Professional and the Texas Bug Book.





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