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EM for the Home Orchard

Posted by Michael Bell 
EM for the Home Orchard
May 15, 2015 09:02PM
I managed to mis-read Michael's brewing instructions from the book and brewed the community orchard batch rather than simply adding EM & molasses to the 4 gallon sprayer. Having done that, I'm happy to stretch out the cost of the EM with the resultant extra brew. Now on day four of the brewing process, took it to room temp last night, last check was at 4.4ph. I used our oven with the light on, door cracked (took a few hours to find the sweet spot) to maintain 95*.

I read the thread (sorry for the rhyme!) "Activating effective microbes in big batches" and picked up some helpful tips there.

So, it appears it will store well. Am I to assume room temperature in the plastic jug that it was brewed in?

Second question, application rates for the brewed EM. Would I be using 6 oz w/ molasses per 4 gallon sprayer, as given in the home orchard instructions?

I will say to Michael that it was the DVD that helped prompt me to get on with trying the spray schedule this year. Seeing it done made it seem much more doable than simply reading about it. A couple of trees I maintain had severe fireblight last year so I needed to try something. Started with copper soap (as it sounds less toxic than traditional copper sprays), followed by strept and Serenade. I only managed to get the neem/fish combo going a couple of weeks ago, and just now did the first neem/fish/EM spray. Hope to be able to phase out the strept next year. So far, the FB looks much better, as do the leaf surfaces on my trees. It's early in the season, but I'm certain that they look much healthier.

Thanks to all for the information!

Home trees in Zone 6a, Bloomington, IN -
Additional trees at family cabin in western KY, zone 6b
Re: EM for the Home Orchard
May 16, 2015 03:58AM
Michael , I am going to give some caution as to what kind of plastic jugs you use and how long you store them . For convenience I used 4liter milk jugs and will try to use them within 6 weeks . I have found that if they are held to long that sweet earthy smell of activated em's will permeate the house and you will have a mess to clean up . The jugs will spring a leak after awhile .
I'm adding 200 trees this year so will now have to look at bigger batches as well .

Re: EM for the Home Orchard
May 17, 2015 03:01PM
Let's distinguish between "mother culture" (which you purchase) and "activated em" which you brew from the mother culture. Those second generation microbes in activated em are freshly awakened those first 30 to 40 days and in that sense ready to hit the tree running, so to speak. Activation involves a molasses feed and there's possibly even some carbon-rich residues still in the brew. The pH continues to drop during this period, eventually bringing the awakened crowd back to full dormancy. Add a shot of humates and such brew gains months of additional shelf life, just like the mother culture, which typically comes with a nine month expiration date.

The thinking behind adding blackstrap molasses in the spray tank when using mother culture directly is to provide some immediate fuel to get dormant microbes started on the leaf surface.

The only time I add molasses in the spray tank with activated brew is for a "competitive colonization boost" during bloom, specifically to protect from fire blight. The goal here is to colonize the inner blossom with a flood of microbes that will in turn outcompete Erwinia amylovora bacterium. Molasses may enhance floral attractiveness, but more so quickens the pace of colonization in the face of an immediate threat.

A number of good questions follow from here which I'll share in the next edition of Community Orchardist.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2015 03:57PM by Michael Phillips.
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