Prepare your trees for winter and reap the benefits in Spring.
When gardeners think about fruit tree care in winter, their thoughts often turn to chemical spray solutions.
But for many fruit tree diseases – including peach leaf curl, apricot freckle, brown rot – prevention is easier to accomplish and costs less than a cure. Just a few well-timed and well-chosen sprays can do a lot toward controlling fruit tree problems.
You can avoid many problems if you buy fruit tree varieties that are resistant to the worst species diseases. It’s also important to give your trees proper attention and care. One good step toward preventing diseases and infestations in your fruit trees in winter is a good autumn cleanup of the orchard. As part of your winter treatment for fruit trees, remove any dropped, rotting fruit as well as remaining fruit on the trees. Rake up fallen leaves as well, since they can be harboring insect pests.
You can also prevent or limit fruit tree diseases by pruning correctly in winter. You’ll need to sterilise the pruners before use with denatured alcohol or a natural (organic) cleaning solution. Most fruit trees are deciduous and drop their leaves in winter but these trees are best pruned while they are dormant, after the leaves have fallen, generally between June and August.
When you are pruning, your first step is to remove dead, dying or diseased branches. Also, trim out branches that grow straight up and root suckers in species where these are prominent. If you notice disease in the tree, be sure to prune out enough to eradicate it. With fruit trees, the risk is not inviting in a new infection by pruning, but failing to remove all diseased wood. Look for the lowest edge of the visible infection in a tree branch, trace the branch back to where it attaches, then cut at the next branch juncture down. This removes both the infected branch and the branch attached to it.
After winter pruning, your winter treatment of fruit trees continues with spraying in order to control pests and diseases. Natural oil sprays are not toxic to humans or pets, but they work wonders on apples, plums and pear trees that had leaf curl caused by aphids, along with the majority of citrus trees. We suggest an active Neem oil treatment and have one of the best on the market available at the nursery.
Although the Sunshine Coast has milder winters than the southern states, it is still critical to prepare your trees for, and care for them during, winter. Keep up a strong fertilising regime with feeding at least monthly for potted plants and quarterly for those in garden beds.
If you have any specific queries about your garden, get in touch with Dave directly at the nursery.