Beautiful spring: guest post by Terri Valenti

There is nothing better than when the fruit trees bloom.  Not only is it beautiful but it is also visual evidence of the potential amount of fruit they will produce this year.  This is also the time for vigilant spraying for any fruit trees that are not low-maintenance.  Most fruits we buy from the grocery stores are far from low-maintenance.  I have peaches, apples, pears, apricots, tart cherries, cherries, and plums that are high maintenance, not 100% organic, and sometimes there is no harvest at all due to the battles that must be won to get fruit on those trees.  On the other hand berries of all types, pawpaws, hardy kiwis and hardy passion fruit are all very low-maintenance with no spraying at all. 

Apricot early last week – petals are falling now
Pear early last week – clusters are opening now
Cherries are just starting
Several universities have spray schedules posted online.  University of Virginia has a nice one where you can see the stage of the tree when the spray needs to be applied, what diseases/pests the spray is for, and what to apply.
If the Virginia spray guide had pictures of the growth stages I think it would have been even better.  I love the New England tree fruit guide for pretty color pictures of each fruit stage.  Look under the fruit type (apple, peach, etc.) for the pictures.  These are great visuals of what ½ inch green tip, tight cluster, etc. look like.
All of my fruit trees are in very different stages right now – so things can get tricky.  Apricots are blooming and starting to have their petals fall.  Apples depending on variety are anywhere between ½ inch green to tight cluster, Peaches just started to bloom, plums are blooming, cherries are not at ½ green tip, pears are in tight cluster.
Basics I keep reminding myself of: do not spray blooming trees with pesticides – i.e. don’t kill your pollinators!  During bloom fungicides are usually needed.  Once the petals fall envision the key pests moving in – because they will. Start to spray the pesticides!
Here’s to a great season of fruit!

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