Spring is a notorious time in the garden industry for the influx of pest and diseases that attack their ornamental and fruit trees. The type of pest or disease that will affect your fruit trees depends on your environmental parameters, garden composition, and geographical location, to name a few. To read about common garden pests and diseases, head to our Common fruit tree pests and diseases page. While most of us understand different control methods, many of us miss out on critical information that garden centres don’t tell us! Luckily our experienced staff can let you in on the fundamental secrets that you may have never considered for pest and disease control. Read on to find out more!
5 Tips for Reducing Pest & Disease Attacks on Fruit Trees that Nurseries don’t tell you!
1. Keep your tree healthy.
It seems simple, but many forget that a healthy tree is the best preventative for pests and diseases. Ensure you are providing your fruit tree with the conditions it needs to thrive. This means balancing your application of water and fertiliser, improving and maintaining soil/potting mix quality, and correctly pruning at the right time of the year. A healthy tree is more resistant to pests and disease attacks and can often bounce back from them without you even noticing!
2. Adjust your watering to local conditions.
Watering your fruit trees in a rainy week is like washing your car in the rain! It seems obvious, but you need to adjust to the weather affecting your home; many people don’t learn this until constant plant death forces them to question their plant care. Consistently over-watering can lead to root disease; consistently under-watering will make your soil hydrophobic. Both lead to reduced vigour – this encourages pests and diseases to attack, weaken, and ultimately kill your fruit tree.
3. Timing is key.
Controlling pests and diseases of fruit trees requires accurate timing for it to be effective. For example:
- Prevention of leaf curl in stone fruit relies on you spraying the tree with a copper-based fungicide before bud burst.
- Spraying preventative fungicides, for fungi like root rot fungus, immediately prior to damp periods will reduce the chance of the disease occurrence.
Investigate Common fruit tree pests and diseases for your fruit tree varieties to best time your pest and disease control.
4. Encourage beneficial microorganisms and insects to visit your garden.
Microorganisms in the soil can improve nutrient acquisition for your fruit tree and improve the overall health of your plant. You can encourage them by adding organic materials to your soil, for example aged manure and compost, and stabilizing underground temperatures by mulching.
Beneficial insects include pollinators and predatory bugs. Predatory bugs consume many pest insects that we spray for! You can encourage them into your garden by providing a diverse range of plants that flower throughout the seasons. Leaving small amounts of leaf litter on the ground for habitat and providing a consistent water source can also help. Reduce your spraying by simply letting nature complete the circle of life!
5. Establish a pest threshold for spraying your fruit trees.
How many pests do you need to see before spraying? Maybe you have found an aphid and decided to spray your entire garden. Maybe you have parts of the garden for bugs, and parts of the garden for yourself. You don’t have to follow either philosophy in your own garden, but there is something to be said for using chemical control as a last resort in a home garden. Search for alternative control methods before turning to spraying to give nature a chance in working itself out.
Quite often small pest burdens won’t send your tree backwards. Consider the trees in the bush, regularly attacked by pests and diseases, yet surviving without us spraying them!
On our fruit trees most of us are more concerned with protected fruit quality – yet quite often we can’t directly spray products on our fruit if we want to eat them! Consider alternate methods first, such as netting your fruit tree and manual removal.
Connecting the dots
These tips have a theme – our plants can fight off pests and diseases without much assistance from us, provided they are healthy. You may also notice a connection, see the diagram:
By following our Plant Care Guides, you will reduce the stress on your plants, therefore reducing the chance of a fatal pest or disease event. The most important thing, however, is to enjoy spending time with your fruit trees, and rejoice the tasty harvest when the time is right!