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Timing regarding spraying for scab

Posted by Molly DellaRoman 
Timing regarding spraying for scab
May 06, 2018 11:49PM
Hello all,
This is my first time posting. My partner Tim and I purchased an existing orchard in Brooklin, ME last winter. The orchard began in the late 80's and has many different varieties of heirloom apples and pears, Asian pears, peaches and plums. It has always been certified organic. They have been on a sulfur spray program for scab for the life of the orchard. Scab is definitely an issue that we are trying to address with lime on leaf litter in the fall and improving the orchard floor with aged wood chips. It is going to take us a little while to get things in balance before we can decrease/eliminate the sulfur. We sprayed our first application on the apples and pears last Tuesday during green tip. We used a sticker with it and had a small amount of rain on Thursday and today (Sunday). With the sticker and fairly insignificant rainfall, we were hoping not to spray for 7-10 days. My question is however, we are not expecting any rain here until about a week from now. Is it all right to extend the time between the sprays if you are not receiving rain, or is it better to spray every week or so no matter what (considering we are right on the ocean and have fog most mornings). Just trying to figure out how to spray as little as possible! Thanks for any advice!

5 Star Nursery and Orchard
Zone 5, Brooklin, ME
Re: Timing regarding spraying for scab
May 07, 2018 10:23PM
Hi Molly,

A HON welcome and cheers to your first post!

Congratulations on your new orchard purchase

Question for you and your partner. . . What do you plan to do with the apples? Is this a business for you two? Are you going to be selling them or using them more for yourselves

Many growers, both conventional and organic, will spray on a schedule to be highly certain they are covered . . . or better put, that their trees are "covered", but our holistic approach looks to do things differently. We wish to increase a highly diverse biology within the orchard, above and below ground. Optimally, to do this, less fungicidal applications are best in this regard in order to help foster the strongest and most diverse microorganism communities in, on, and around our fruit trees. Sulfur and Copper, though okay for organic programs, can be over done and should be used as a tool, when needed, but not just for the sake of using the tool -- just to say we did or to check a box on a schedule.

Your foggy environment may well be conducive to further scab infections beyond the primary infection window in the spring. I would recommend that you plan to add the holistic summer spraying program to your spring efforts and see if the scab (and other secondary defects) are held in better check with those efforts.

How many trees and how many acres are you working with? Have you been on the acreage there for a full year already? What have you seen for disease pressures this past year? Did the previous owners leave you with any log books that journaled their spraying, harvesting, and/or experiences year over year?

Did you and your partner know that Michael Phillips is holding his Holistic Orchard Intensive again in June at his farm in New Hampshire? Boy, this would be an excellent opportunity for you to both go deep with your holistic awareness in a highly inspiring two day hands on class. [herbsandapples.com]

I want to put a plug in for you to get a soil test done in your orchard too. Even though the property has been organic certified for several decades (very cool, I might add), soil nutrients may be out of balance. Focus some time and energy on addressing areas in your soil reporting that may need attention too. A healthy and robust soil is the foundation of holistic orcharding success.

We have a number of HON members who farm along the north east coast. Perhaps you will hear from one of them with more insight and shared experience too.

Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
Re: Timing regarding spraying for scab
May 15, 2018 08:34AM
The sulfur should have a residual effect of 7 days. If there is no rain you can certainly extend the time between sprays, especially if you have dry conditions like wind or heat and the fog burns off in the afternoons. We only did 2 sulfur sprays this year while some years we do more. We do reliably use limestone in the fall to break down fallen leaves as a way to stay ahead of it.

Fruitilicious Farm
Zone 9b in California
Re: Timing regarding spraying for scab
July 03, 2018 08:29PM
Hi Paul and Zea,
Thank you so much for your timely responses and so sorry for being late to reply - not enough time to sit at a computer this first year! To answer some of your questions Paul:

Yes, this is a commercial orchard. Most of the apples get sold at farmers markets and the ones that are "not pretty" enough get made into cider for sweet cider and apple cider vinegar. At least that is what the previous owners did. We have since found out that they were "grandfathered" into having an unlicensed cider facility which needs about $30,000 now to get it licensed. So, we are putting off major cider making efforts for this first year. It's a low production year here so probably wouldn't have enough to sell a lot of cider this year anyway!

We trained with the owners last year and this is our first year solo on the land. It's just under three acres of apple, peach,pear and plum. They definitely have had issues with scab, so we started spraying at green tip this year instead of after pink like they did (according to their very minimal spray records). We stopped spraying for sulfur 2 weeks ago as we weren't seeing evidence of scab. They used to spray sulfur until the beginning of August, which I am still unsure of why. However just yesterday we found scab in one of our varieties. We are not sure if we should resume spraying sulfur again or not?

Re: Timing regarding spraying for scab
July 11, 2018 09:03AM
It is too late to spray now and have it do any good. After the leaves drop, try to spread limestone on ground before winter. Then a dormant oil spray will help kill spores on trunks.

Fruitilicious Farm
Zone 9b in California
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