Happy New Planting Year!
Our first newsletter of 2019 is about protecting your fruit trees from potential pests and fungal diseases, which could prove detrimental to flowering and fruiting potential later in the seasons.
An accumulation of debris, dust, dirt and sticky substances naturally builds up over a tree’s life and it is this environment that provides the perfect habitat for overwintering pests to lay and secure their eggs.
By controlling this potential insect infestation, you are also providing safeguards against certain types of fungal diseases many of which enter plant tissue, either directly by the insect host or indirectly through damaged surfaces caused by sap sucking insects such as aphids.
Winter Tree Wash is a product that has been specifically formulated to control overwintering pests on fruit trees, bushes and vines. It can also be effective on ornamental trees. Based on plant and fish oils, it is naturally organic and works through physical action by ‘dissolving’ the eggs before they have a chance to hatch in the spring, dramatically reducing pest numbers.
Being only suitable for winter use, after trees have lost their leaves and before bud break, apply the wash using a pressure sprayer, diluting the concentrate to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wet the bark thoroughly, concentrating on all the little nooks and crannies where the branches meet the trunk, using a soft brush to encourage the mixture behind loose areas of bark, where the eggs are likely to be concentrated and well hidden from the naked eye.
Another troublesome pest is the winter moth that emerges from pupae in the soil and crawls up tree trunks to lay their eggs in the branches between November and April; the developing caterpillars hatch in spring and will eat holes in buds, leaves, blossom and developing fruitlets of apple, pear, plum and cherry trees, weakening plants and affecting crop yield and quality. Some ornamental trees can also be affected, including oak, sycamore, hornbeam, beech, hawthorn and rowan.
In order to intercept the wingless female moths reaching the branches, a sticky grease band coated in barrier glue can be tied around the trunk approximately one metre up from the ground below the lowest branch anytime from October to May. If a stake has been used to support the tree, it is imperative that this is also wrapped separately. Most insects will not try to cross the band and any that do, will be caught. The green colour of the band will not attract beneficial insects. A replacement band can be applied from May until August to protect against ants, adult vine weevils and other crawling insects.
Both of these products are available to purchase in our Plant Centre shop and any further advice can be sought from one of our in-house horticultural experts.