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Spraying Apple Trees

First and foremost, be sure to familiarize yourself with the existing or potential pest and diseases issues for apple trees in your area. Your local county Cooperative Extension is an excellent resource for this information. Documents for identification and control, assembled by your local state universities, may even already exist online. Your local independent garden centers and local growers are also invaluable sources of pest and disease control in your area.

In high-density areas, a proper and consistent spray schedule can be paramount to the survival of your apple tree. Many potential issues can be prevented with sprays before they become problematic. To get the most return on the investment of your time and energy, spraying apple trees should be done consistently and thoroughly following the guidelines below.

NOTE: This is part 9 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow apple trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

General Maintenance

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on the labels of the products you have in hand. Do not combine any chemicals unless the labels on each chemical spray involved specifically state that you can safely do so.

A well-rounded home spray program for apple trees includes dormant-season as well as growing-season sprays for pests and diseases. Research your location and learn about any pests or disease that are common in your area. If you know apple tree diseases are common in your area, consider planting easy-care, disease-resistant apple trees if possible.

Note: Contact your local county Cooperative Extension for alternative suggestions and advice on cultural and chemical control methods if certain sprays offered by Stark Bro’s are not recommended for use in your area.

When to Spray Apple Trees

  • Dormant Season (late winter/early spring, before bud break)
  • Growing Season – Bud Break (emergence of new growth)
  • Growing Season – After Blossom (after petals drop*)

*gives bees and other beneficials a chance to safely pollinate the blossoms

It bears repeating: Always follow instructions printed on container label for more detailed information, such as timing and application instructions specifically for apple trees.

Pest Control Sprays:

Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil

  • For: Overwintering eggs, larvae, and pests including European red spider mites, adelgids, scale insects, apple aphids, bud moth, leafrollers, light brown apple moth, red bug, codling moth larvae, psylla, blister mites, galls, whitefly larvae, and mealybugs.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when temperatures are between 40ºF and 90ºF.

Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust

  • For: Codling moth, leafminers, leafrollers, oriental fruit moth, tufted apple budmoth
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 10 days, up to 6 times per season (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 7 days before harvest.

Bonide® Insecticidal Soap

  • For: Adelgids (woolly aphids), aphids, lacebugs, mealybugs, mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, scale insects, plant bugs, sawfly larvae (pear and rose slugs), psyllids, tent caterpillars, thrips, spider mites, earwigs, and whitefly.
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, weekly or bi-weekly as needed.

Bonide® Thuricide® BT

  • For: Redbanded leafroller, tufted apple budmoth, variegated leafroller, tent caterpillar, fruit tree leafroller, gypsy moth
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break or After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when eggs or newly hatched larvae first appear.

GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

  • For: Apple aphid, apple maggot, apple mealybug, apple pandemic, apple rust mite, apple sucker, avocado leafroller, bagworms, black cherry aphid, black scale, leafrollers, lecanium scales, lesser appleworm, lesser peachtree borer, meadow spittlebug, omnivorous leaftier, strawberry fruitworm, orange tortrix
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. To avoid fruit drop, apply 30 days after full bloom. Apply as directed, every 7 days, up to 8 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 3 days before harvest.

Disease Control Sprays

Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental (wettable powder)

  • For: Primary scab, black rot (frogeye), botrytis blossom-end rot, Brooks fruit spot, sooty blotch, fly speck, black rot, black pox, botryosphaeria rot, bitter rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (pre-bloom, bloom, petal fall), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not use in conjunction with wettable sulfur, hydrated lime, or oil sprays. Apply as directed, every 10- to 14-days as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest. Not for use in California (contact local county Cooperative Extension for recommended alternatives).

Bonide® Copper Fungicide

  • For: Fireblight, anthracnose, bitter rot, black pox, black rot, Brooks spot, flyspeck, powdery mildew, sooty blotch, summer scab, white rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (may include bloom period), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, making sure to adhere to specified intervals to avoid phytotoxicity and other issues in apple trees.

Ferti-Lome® Fire Blight Spray

  • For: Fire blight, bacterial wilt, stem rot, leaf spot, crown gall
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (may include bloom period), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative, also active. Controls and prevents bacterial diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 3 to 4 days during bloom time and every 5 to 7 days as needed after blossom period. Do not apply when fruit is visible. For use as a foliar and/or blossom spray.

Serenade® Garden Disease Control

  • For: Anthracnose, bacterial leaf blight, bacterial speck, bacterial spot, black mold, black rot/black crown rot, black spot (of rose), botrytis, botrytis leaf blight, downy mildew, early blight, fire blight, gray mold, greasy spot, late blight, leaf spots, powdery mildew, rust, scab, target spot, white mold
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls and suppresses fungal and bacterial diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 7 days as needed. Can be used any time of day (including in full sun and high temperatures) without stressing or burning foliage. Can be used up to, and including, the day of harvest.

Combination Sprays for Pests & Diseases

Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

  • Pests: Ants (excluding fire ants, harvester ants, pharaoh ants, and carpenter ants), aphids, apple maggot, beetles, mites, moths, spider mites, leafhoppers, leafrollers, leafminers, caterpillars, whiteflies, spittlebugs, mealybugs, scale, thrips, psyllids, plant bugs, fruit flies, earwigs
  • Diseases: Scab, powdery mildew, rust, blight, brown rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 90ºF. Do not use within 21 days of an oil spray. Apply as directed, every 7- to 10-days, or after rain as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest.

Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

  • Pests: Apple maggots, codling moths, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, plum curculios, aphids, bud moth, Forbes scale, eastern tent caterpillar, red-banded leafroller, mites
  • Diseases: Bitter rot, black rot, frogeye leaf spot, Botryosphaeria (white rot), botrytis rot, bullseye rot, Brooks fruit spot, flyspeck, cedar rust, quince rust, scab, sooty blotch
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 85ºF. Apply as directed, no more than once within 7 days, up to 2 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 14 days before harvest.

Bonide® Neem Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, scab and flower, twig and tip blight, and alternaria.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative, also active. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs, and pests on contact. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Oil-based, so apply in early morning/late evening to minimize the potential for leaf burn. Apply as directed, every 7- to 14-days as needed.

Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, loopers, mealybugs, leafhoppers, leafminers, thrips, borers, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, hornworm, earwig, chiggers, worms, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, brown spot, dollar spot, snow mold, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, blight (flower blight, twig blight, and tip blight), scab.
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom (for early disease prevention), Growing Season – After Blossom (for pest and disease control on contact).
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 7 to 14 days, as needed. Do not use more than 1 time per day on the same plants. Do not use more than 10 times per season. Do not apply when temperatures are below 45ºF. Do not apply to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Apply in early morning or late evening to minimize potential for leaf burn. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

Monterey Horticultural Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, sawflies, loopers, leafhoppers, leafminers, leafrollers, psylla, mealybugs, thrips, worms, and more.
  • Diseases: Black spot, powdery mildew, rust, sooty mold
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom, Growing Season – After Blossom, Dormant Season
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, as needed. Do not apply when temperatures are below 32ºF (no heat restriction for use – unique for an oil spray). Do not apply during drought or to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.
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