Caring for an orchard

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by sylvar, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone out there have any tips on caring for an apple/peach orchard without commercial chemicals? I can't find any info on this topic anywhere. I have a backpack sprayer and I don't mind spraying...I would like to avoid some of the harsher chemicals out there and be as independant as possible.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Sylvar
     
  2. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    You could scan through some of the archives here

    http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/nafex/

    and if you can't find anything, you could sign up and post about your question. Seems to be a lot of very knowledgeable fruit growers that use this. I found a lot of good information about a whole range of fruit growing topics. good luck.
     

  3. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    1) Make sure you pick up all of the fallen fruit and fallen leaves at the end of the season. Fruit and leaves left on the ground are just breeding zones for diseases that will splash back up onto the tree when it rains.

    2) Make sure you have plenty of room between your trees for good air flow. Also, make sure you prune to allow plenty of airflow and light through the tree. Any damp still pockets of air will just allow diseases to grow.

    3) A dormant oil spray in the winter will do your trees a world of good. Just some lime and sulphur in a light oil so it sticks to the tree. This will help keep any fungal diseases down to a dull roar.

    4) Get ruthless with your trees. If a variety is just constantly sick with something get it out of your orchard. I look specifically for trees that will handle the mildew and scab that grow in my area. They have some leaves and branches that are marked by the fungal problems but the tree overall grows through it just fine. That's what you need to manage your orchard for if you don't want to use any fungicides.

    5) Go ahead and let grass and wild flowers grow up between your trees. That will attract all sorts of insects, some of which will prey on any insects that might damage your crop.

    There's a book I've found really helpful about organic apple growing methods. I'm sure you could adapt the ideas to fit peaches as well. "The Apple Grower" by Michael Phillips.
     
  4. inc

    inc Well-Known Member

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    get modern varieties, te spray-free apples, if you can call them that. like liberty.
     
  5. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    In addition to cleanliness and pruning to open up the tree, I would also suggest that you use a foliar micro-nutrient fertilizer to assist the tree in keeping as healthy as possible. Of course along with that comes an adequate amount of water being applied.

    If you have rolling terrain do not plant in low areas. Planting higher allows cold air to settle AWAY from the trees and might keep a bloom nipping frost from doing damage.

    Use sticky traps such as croquet balls coated with Tanglefoot.

    Search the Net for "integrated pest management" information. This information will tell you how to best handle insect damage with the least amount of sprays.

    Search for university web sites dealing with fruit production, etc.
    http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/fruitover.html
     
  6. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    I have been working hard on these trees that last 2 years. They probably hadn't been pruned for years. I have all but 2 pruned back to where I think they should be. Everything looks pretty open to me, but this is the first time I have ever dealt with fruit trees.

    I think I will go ahead and plant some resistant varieties. I don't want to cut any of these down just yet.

    I guess the biggest hang up I am having is not the work required to care for fruit trees, but the money. The dormant oil,lime sulfer, and other spray additives seem expensive to me. Anyone have thoughts on how to economize?

    Thanks for all your input so far!

    Sylvar
     
  7. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do you have chickens? I've read that they do a good job of cleaning an orchard of pests. I'm hoping to make a movable chicken tractor for under my trees. I've read something about putting some kind of sticky tape (double sided taPe) around the trunks of the trees to prevent the worms from climbing?
     
  8. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    I DO have chickens. I feed them a lot of the fallen apples. What kind of pests would they clean up? I not sure I would trator them there as its closer to the house than where I usually have them.....I kind of want to keep that grass :). I might be able to put up some snow fence and free range them in that area during the day.

    Sylvar
     
  9. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    Your chickens will help clean up any worm problems you have by eating the worms on the ground before they can turn into flies and moths. I'm going to be running muscovy ducks in my apples this year to do the same sort of thing.

    If you have sheep or goats, they do a great job cleaning up fallen fruit and leaves, in addition to keeping the grass down. They chew on the lower branches a bit, and you have to watch the goats on the tree trunks. I let my critters go through the orchard and get all the fallen fruit I missed - they don't seem to mind that job at all.

    The dormant oil and lime sulphur are the only chemicals I use, personally. My apples are grown for hard cider, so it doesn't matter what they look like - the fruit just has to be sound. Varieties that won't make it without using more chemicals I just don't grow. That's just the way I've chosen to do things.
     
  10. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    "Varieties that won't make it without using more chemicals I just don't grow."

    Believe me, if I had had the choice that is the type of trees I would have planted. The orchard was there when i bought the place. Best I can do it to start planting some of those types and when they start bearing I can start phasing these others out. This will be the first year I have sprayed at all, so maybe they will all do well!

    Sylvar
     
  11. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    The above wasn't a criticism at all! I'm sorry if it sounded that way. I'm lucky enough that this place was cattle pasture before I bought it and there aren't any sizable orchards for miles. So the insect and disease pressure is really light. We all end up adapting things to fit our own particular arrangements.
     
  12. limhyl

    limhyl Well-Known Member

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    I was surprized how many organic controls the big box stores are carrying now. I got lime sulphur and neem oil there and they also had dormant oil although I made my own because I wanted one with a vegetable oil base. What you have to spray for really depends on where you live. Do a search for your area on the net and you may be able to find an organic spraying schedule. I found one for the southeast which is where I am. Good luck! Theresa.
     
  13. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    No offence taken Jen....Just bemoaning my situation a bit...lol.

    So when are those catapillars out and on the ground? I don't want to run my chickens in there all the time, but I could run them in there during catapillar season.

    Sylvar
     
  14. Steve in Ohio

    Steve in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    May want to check this link New Farm We visited the Rodale Center last year and the orchard was very impressive to say the least.
     
  15. Jack in VA

    Jack in VA Well-Known Member

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    How do you make your own dormant oil?
     
  16. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    The way the lifecycle works for most apple worms is an egg is laid in the developing apple. Most (not all) of the affected apples drop off sometime around June with the other apples the tree sheds. The worm eats it's way out of the the fallen apple, turns into a fly or moth, and repeats the cycle. So, the more worms your chickens, ducks, goats (by eating the apples themselves) etc. can eat, the fewer pests available to attack your apples.

    If I had to choose when to have the chickens around the area, I'd have them there just after the June drop to help control apple pests. I can't help you with the peaches (they don't grow worth beans here). I'm just going to have my ducks living out in our orchard full time.
     
  17. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Hey Steve, thanks for that! Great Link.
     
  18. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    Jen, If I am hearing you right I don't think my chickens would get much chance to eat the worms. One of the kid's chores during the winter is to keep the apples picked up. They never sit on the ground more than a week. Usually less than that.

    Sylvar
     
  19. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Gardens Alive, www.GardensAlive.com, has some very good organic sprays for all types of fruit trees as well as vegetable gardens.
     
  20. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sure the kids pick most of it up, but there are always some that hide and rot on the ground. Also, if you move them every couple days, you will still have grass and it will be FERTILIZED along with your tree. Still sounds good to me! That's where all the old hens are going. Everyone has to pull their weight around here.