Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Growing tips for July

Woolly aphid on apple tree

Woolly aphid on apple tree

A new generation of aphids and caterpillars has appeared, mainly on apple trees. It is particularly the new tender shoot extensions they are after. On the smaller trees a lot can be achieved by cutting out the affected shoots with a secateur. Do not drop the cut-out shoots on the orchard floor, as the offenders might find their way back into the trees again. This doesn’t apply to Woolly Aphids. This particular type of aphids lives on old wounds and in cracks anywhere in the stem of the tree. It protects itself with white woolly fluff. With a stiff brush and a powerful hose pipe you will be able to remove most of them. Repeat this method of control after 14 days.

At all times of the year orchard hygiene is the basis of good natural pest  and disease control. Mildew fungus can now also be found on many extension shoots. Due to the very wet summer, in many gardens, scab and mildew can become a problem, if nothing is done about it. Just cut off all infected shoots and fruits and remove out of the orchard .

This is also the time to carry out the first summer pruning on apples and pears. Shorten back the long extension shoots to 5 leaves and the shorter side shoots to three leaves.Another summer pruning session is needed by late August. The same summer pruning technique can be carried out with damsons, greengages and plums. With apricots and peaches, cut out the shoots not wanted. If the current growth is very strong, then reduce the number of shoots. Having done that, cut back the remaining shoots to 5 leaves.

Fruit trees will be in short supply this year. It pays therefore to order early, if specific varieties are wanted. Just let us know your requirements and we will respond to your questions and reserve the trees for orders that you wish to place for delivery this coming late autumnn/early winter, when the trees transplant best and are most likely to be in the best position to grow well in the following spring time.

Peach leaf curl disease

Peach leaf curl

If you grow peaches, nectarines and apricots, this is the main problem. It can be avoided bycovering your peach tree or your apricot tree with a double layer of garden fleece from late January until the middle of May, every year.
Peach leaf curl disease is caused by a fungus, Taphrina deformans. It will attack the tree species of peach, nectarine and apricot. The symptoms are the development of large reddish blisters on the leaves. The tree is seriously weakened as photosynthesis bythe leaves is seriously affected. Eventually the tree is starved to death as it is no longer able to make essential carbohydrates, through photosynthesis. Leaves tend to fall prematurely and growth comes to a complete standstill.
The fungus attacks the tree from late January until the middle of May. After May the fungus is no longer producing spores and therefore cannot cause new infections.

How to avoid these troubles

Actions to be taken immediately are the complete removal of leaves affected. This applies to the fallen leaves as well as the affected leaves still attached to the tree. Make sure the leaves are all collected up, put in a plastic bag and then put in the non-recycling bin. The fungal spores survive over winter on the fallen leaves!
Make sure the tree is well watered and does not stand in a carpet of weeds and grass. Apply a full watering can of water twice a week, particularly during the summer months. Mulch the tree with well rotted farmyard manure. The area to be mulched must be of a minimum size of one square yard.

Never let the tree go short of water! By late January cover the tree with a double layer of garden fleece. Fasten the fleece securely. Make sure the wind cannot affect it or lift it off. Keep your eye on the tree and if a tear develops in the fleece after particularly bad weather, repair the damage properly. This fleece needs to stay in position until the second week of May. After that time, carefully remove the fleece.

Never prune the tree during the autumn and winter months when the leaves have fallen. It is at that time that new infections occur very quickly. Prune during the middle of May or during late August, making sure that the old wood is removed to make room for new shoots to form. This is essential as the fruits of peach and nectarine are formed on one year wood only. Seal the pruning cuts with “Prune and Seal”, a compound available from your garden centre. The foliage of a well pruned tree dries up quickly, with less chance of new infections.