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Pests - green aphids and winter moth caterpillar

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Published on May 6, 2009

We use pesticides. I have been on a course, passed an exam, have a certificate and obey all relevant laws. We regret the need to spray, but we are a commercial orchard and our customers will not accept scabby and maggoty fruit, let alone pay a premium price for it to make up for the reduced yield.

We use an absolute minimum, well below the industry standard, so we don't get 100% control of anything, which I think is about right. We also encourage beneficial inects by maintaining hedgerows and wild areas which are completely unsprayed, which are rich in wild plants and animals. If you jusst have 2 or 3 trees for your own family in the back graden, you will probably prefer not to spray at all and allow a 'natural balance' of pests, predators and parasites to establish itself. This is fine for the backyard orchard, the apple is such a generous fruit that you will still probably have more than you need even if pests destroy 60% of the potential crop. However if you are going to sell the fruit, this won't do and you have to contro pests. Pest and disease problems are worse in larger orchards as the smell of the apples goes further and attracts pests in from further away.

Here are some green aphids and winter moth caterpillars. We can live with a few of these. Winter moths can be reduced by grease bands, but you have to be careful to avoid these cutting into the tree as it grows. In Britain a brand called Boltac is available from garden centres which are quite good, you apply them in September and remove in spring, they stop crawling pests but not flying pests. The winter moth adults crfeep up the tree in late autumn and lay their egs, the caterpillars hatch out at exactly the same time the leaves and blossom come, and they will eat both. A bad infestation will destroy all the blossom and most of the leaves. Insecticide applied just before blossom will kill most of them.

NEVER NEVER NEVER apply insecticide when blossom is open as this will harm beneficial insects like bees. One hit with combined insecticide and fungicide before blossom, another after and one more for the codling moth at a time indicated by the pheremone traps (I'll post on this later) is about right to get 90-95% pest and disease control.

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