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David Davis: Time for preventative spraying on fruit trees

As we have had warm temperatures, and spring rains, homeowners with fruit trees will want to consider starting to implement preventive fungicide application.

Last year, we had an abundance of cedar apple rust on Apple trees. Brown rot is a disease that affects peaches and other stone fruit trees, and many only notice it later in the year.

Now is also the time to begin spraying preventatively for each of these diseases.

Preventative spraying now and throughout the spring is the best way, and often the only way to control Cedar Apply Rust. It can derive from several different fungal pathogens that reproduce and expand from wild cedar trees growing throughout Kentucky which makes it very difficult to control without preventative spraying.

There are two main products that are recommended for homeowners to prevent Cedar Apple Rust. Products containing Mancozeb or Immunox as the active ingredient. Mancozeb is a broad spectrum preventative fungicide that is recommended for the prevention of many fungal disease in the home orchard, garden, and landscape in Kentucky. It is widely available at local garden supply stores. It can be combined with Captan later in the year to also offer some protection from fruit rots.

Immunox is another product that can also be used in the home orchard in Kentucky and has good effectiveness against Cedar Apple rust.

Brown rot can be recognized by the effect that it has to the fruit. It causes a soft, brown decay of the fruit which will often start with a small circular spot which rapidly expands to destroy the entire fruit. Brown Rot can affect a variety of stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and cherries. Sulfur fungicide, products with the active ingredient Chlorothalonil, or Captan are all great preventative fungicides that can be used to minimize this disease.

With any preventative fungicide, the key to success is to apply them in regular intervals according to the label directions. In drier years, applying fungicide to trees once every 10 days may be adequate. At times when more rainfall is expected, fungicide application once every 5-7 days may be necessary. Also, make sure to get good coverages of the leaves and surfaces. This may require a special sprayer, purchasing sprayer attachments designed for fruit trees, or climbing a ladder. Make sure that the particular product you purchase is labeled for fruit trees you are wanting to protect. Always read and follow the label directions. This includes following safe pesticide application practices, and wearing the appropriate protective clothing or equipment.

If you would like to know more about preventive spraying of your fruit trees for common diseases, contact me at the Clark County Extension Office by calling 744-4682.

David Davis is the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.