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Home Orchard Care

Searcy, Ark. – Fruit trees around the house are damaged by a large number of different insects and diseases. You can control or prevent this damage with well-timed sprays applied properly to the trees.

General purpose spray mixtures are available at your local supply store. These usually contain insecticides to control both insects and mites and fungicides to control a wide range of diseases.

Ordinarily, general purpose sprays contain three to four different materials, and the dosage depends upon the percentage of each material present in the mixture. Follow the directions on the package for dosage. These sprays are designed to take care of only the average condition.

Additional materials may be needed to control special conditions. General purpose fruit sprays are those that have been on the market for a period of time and are considered to be commonly available in both large and small supply stores throughout Arkansas. Measure the materials and thoroughly mix in the sprayer immediately before use. Home-mixed sprays are more economical and allow a choice of pesticides, but they require more time to measure and mix. Sprays are best applied when wind is not blowing and trees not in bloom. Thoroughly cover all foliage and fruit with the spray. 

FRUIT WORM CONTROL – Three pests feed as larvae inside tree fruits. Plum curculio adults begin emerging after petal fall, feeding on fruit and laying eggs under skin. Legless larvae then feed on the fruit pulp of apple and prunus fruit. Damage occurs from early April to early May and reoccurs from early June through mid-August. Oriental fruit moth attacks apple and prunus fruit. Eggs hatch into white-pinkish, legged larvae that damage fruit in early May and again from mid-June to early October. Codling moth attacks only apple. Damage is caused by the white pinkish, legged larvae. It has an emergence pattern like the oriental fruit moth but stops laying eggs in early September. Grape berry moth attacks only grape berries. White to greenish, legged larvae attack early grapes in late May, and later generations attack from late June through mid-September.                                  

SAN JOSE SCALE – Occurs on limbs and fruit. Tree limbs and the tree itself may be killed by this scale. It is important to apply dormant oil each mid-March. The general purpose fruit spray should be applied to infested limbs when you detect yellow scale crawlers (legged) on the limbs. Weekly in May, use a hand lens (10x magnification) to check sticky tape wrapped around scaly limbs for the presence of yellow crawlers. The second generation of crawlers emerges during July.

SPIDER MITES – Apply a dormant oil (2% solution) to tree limbs just as buds begin to open in March. Make sure temperatures are above 60°F to ensure oil suffocates mite eggs and young mites on limbs and below 90°F so oil does not burn foliage. In June or July, check leaves weekly for mites. If there are more than 5 mites per leaf, apply a miticide such as Kelthane, sulfur or Vendex. Mites are very damaging and prevalent during hot, dry weather, causing loss of green leaf color, a yellowish or bronze tinge and webbing under the leaf surface. They are very small spider-like creatures, yellow to red in color and readily visible with a hand lens. Damage becomes severe if there are more than 3 to 5 mites per leaf. Mites are poorly controlled by Malathion and sometimes are made worse by repeated Sevin applications because mite predators are killed by these materials.

BORERS – This pest girdles the trunk at or below the soil line and will eventually kill the tree. To control peach tree borers in peaches, plums, cherries or nectarines, wet the lower 12 inches of the trunk and the ground around the trunk with a spray of materials containing permethrin or esfenvalerate as the active ingredient. Nursery stock and fast-growing young trees should be re-treated in August to keep new trunk growth covered.

Another control for borers in the tree is to remove the gum from the base of the tree and dig out and remove larva. You can also spray the trunk with dormant oil (1/2 cup dormant oil per gallon of water) To place all trees on the same cover spray schedule, apply the recommended general spray mix to each tree at its petal fall. Spray that tree again on the next established spray date. Make certain that all surfaces (fruit or foliage) requiring protection are covered with spray. When using a garden hose sprayer, clean the jets frequently with a wire and be sure enough spray material is used each time. A curdling effect resulting from incompatibility of chemicals may occur in the spray tank if wettable powder (WP) and liquid (EC) are mixed in the same tank. Use only WP formulations alone or only EC formulations alone in the tank at the same time. Many wettable powder spray materials are lumpy and may plug spray nozzles. Strain the water suspension through a fine brass mesh sieve or nylon hose and/or make sure the intake for the sprayer has a fine brass wire screen. Thorough, constant agitation of wettable powders in the spray is essential.


Safety precautions:

  • Don’t save extra spray solution. It is usually better to apply it on the crop than to try to save it.
  • Never pour leftover spray on the ground or down the drain. Refer to pesticide label for proper disposal.
  • Always use caution when applying pesticides. READ THE LABEL.
  • Avoid inhaling the dust when mixing or the mist when spraying. Wear the proper protective clothing (rubber gloves, dust mask) shown on the pesticide label.
  • Wash spilled materials from skin or clothing. Wash clothes soiled with heavy concentrations of spray separately.




By Sherri Sanders
White County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
(501) 268-5394