Every year we have people emailing us with pictures of either pests or diseases on their fruit trees and asking us what the problem is and what they can do about it.
The most common problems are:
1. Pear Slug, usually in November/ December as everything warms up and the pupate comes out of its case in the soil to lay eggs on the host tree.
Looks as though a gross black slug is eating layers off the leaves, leaving just the lacy veins.
2. Silver Leaf, which appears on the first flush of growth in spring, disappears again until late autumn and then appears again. Silvery leaves.
3. Bronze Beatle, damage (holes in leaves eaten at night most often but also in the day time).
Infestations occur by bronze ladybird-like insects, which live in long grass and attack trees in times of water stress mostly in November/December.
4. Leaf Roller, usually on apples in summer.
Leaves on new growth are rolled right up with caterpillars inside the roll, which eat the leaves as they hatch.
5. Cicada damage, zip like marks on the bark of main stems and branches that are actually the places cicadas lay their eggs. These hatch into larvae which eat the cambium layer of tree, and weaken the tree in that place, also in times of water stress, the worse the stress, the worse the damage.
6. Bacterial Blast, lesions on the trunks and branches of stone fruit where gooey sap oozes.
7. Leaf Curl, bubbly redish colour leaves usually occurring on the first flush of growth in spring, most often disappearing with second flush, usually mild but occasionally serious.
8. Die Back, where the tips die back sometimes, with the tree not getting bigger in the first year after planting. Usually occurs because the tree was not pruned before planting, and it was not planted with enough care and/or not watered well enough, also water stress.
9. Codlin Moth – As we are learning through the science of biological agriculture and epigenetic, our plants and animals and humans will only attract pests and diseases if they are out of balance and not resonating at their best functioning level. Pests and diseases are nature’s way of cleaning up the rubbish!! Apple trees get all kinds of diseases and pests and almost all of them are because the mineral levels in the ground are not optimal, and most are because of a lack of available calcium. Put the focus on soil health and ecosystem health and your codlin moth will disappear.. that is the only regenerative way I know of to deal with such problems, this is why forest garden support species are so so important, they are the species that mine the minerals our heavy feeding trees need, and so we can wean ourselves off fertilliser
Genetics and Environment:
Over the years I have come to understand that tree health is just like my health, is just like my chicken’s health etc. Health is determined by genetic strength, and environment.
That means we need to plant heritage fruit trees.
Heritage trees are the only trees we have that were selected and grown to be strong and healthy and high brix without chemical industrial inputs… they have the best genetic strength, so long as we are careful about the selection process.
On top of that we must supply them with the minerals they need as well as the right amounts of air in the soil (50% ideally) and also the correct amount of soil moisture to avoid root stress and to enable the trees to pick up the minerals at all.
If we don’t do any one of these things pests or disease issues will undoubtedly result at some point in some form.
My suggestions are:
1. Follow our suggested tree planting guide on the website. The air, the minerals, and the moisture are all critical.
2. Only plant what you can take care of well. One tree well taken care of will produce more fruit than 10 trees that do not get their needs met.
3. If you didn’t do that, get advice as to the best way to achieve a similar result. It may mean you have to feed your trees well each year with EF Soil Force or EF Nature’s Garden, get a Reams soil test etc.
Find a way to water over summer.
Foliar feed in the short term.
4. And lastly there are short term ways to deal with the symptoms of stress, i.e. pests and diseases. My current choice is spraying our EF BioPesticide which is entirely composed of beneficial microbes, which helps create an environment that supports the trees, keeping bugs and diseases at bay. It will heal silver leaf, leaf curl, and everything else, so long as you also pay attention to the moisture levels and the minerals, the air levels and possibly the drainage.
There is also neem oil and several other acceptable options, see our website.
5. Check out our website for all
fertilisers and soil tests mentioned.