Battling Fruit Pests At The Wrong Time
If you spray your fruit trees right after they bloom in the spring, it does more damage than good, hurting bees - not the pests. Researchers at the Corvallis Western Agricultural Research Center had advice for the public about insecticide spraying at the right time.
The Montana State University specialists have studied worms that infest apples and pears and have found that codling moths are cold-blooded, so spraying when the blooms start is too early.
Katrina Mendrey, orchard program manager at the Corvallis Ag Research Center, said in a news release, "When trees start to bloom, folks get excited about protecting their fruit. But spraying insecticides during bloom not only doesn't control the target pest, it harms bees and hence, reduces fruit pollination." She said to be patient and wait until temperatures rise. Then use controls such as wrapping and bagging fruit, along with the spraying.
When is the best time? It changes from year to year, but the researchers are keeping track and will post information when applying chemical controls will work the best, along with other ways to protect your fruit trees. Check the Western Ag Research Center website.
You have to be vigilant, as Mendrey says, "Growers must use several different tools for preventing damage. Spraying alone is never the answer." She again suggests "bagging" the trees or individual fruit (for a few pristine apples). The best "whole tree" bagging methods are being studied. There's another site that is specifically about apples in Montana to see, too.