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Fruit trees are hosts to an abundance of wildlife, a lot of it beneficial or benign.
Be vigilant and observe your trees regularly to identify the problem and choose a safe method of treatment. This is particularly so when the trees are young , as they get older they can cope with some problems.
Distorted curled young leaves and wood - Aphids - Solution: Open up the curled leaves and you will most likely find aphids. Using a hand held sprayer, use a soapy water solution to spray them off the leaf. If you see ants on the tree they are most likely moving the aphids around as they like to eat the honeydew produced by the aphids. Usually, unless the infestation is particulalry severe, ladybird larvae will control the aphids by late June, gobbling down thousands of the little beasts every day.
Brown spots on leaves and fruit - Apple scab - Solution: Caused by damp, humid weather. Some varieties are more susceptible. Apples with scab will not store but they are fine to eat immediately or juice. Pruning your trees can help to alleviate scab infection as removing branches and congestion creates space in the canopy, allowing the wind and sun to quickly dry wet leaves after rainfall - the time that fungal spores re-infect the tree.
Leaves brown and wilting / Fruit drops in June - Shortage of water - Solution: Water during dry periods, up to 10L/tree every week and keep the trees mulched. We recommend a thick layer of woodchip.
White deposits on leaves and stem - Powdery Mildew - Solution: Occurs in dry spells. Cut out infected wood. Water and mulch.
Young leaves folded together and webbed - Tortrix moth caterpillars - Solution: Remove and squash
Caterpillars inside your apples and plums - Codling moth larva in apples and plum moth in plums/damsons - Solution: Hang pheromone traps from mid-May. These are available in garden centres. They attract the males, which get caught on a sticky pad, disrupting and reducing the breeding cycle.
Brown papery lesions on the stems - Canker - Solution: Cut out as soon as seen where it occurs on the trunk scrape away with a knife. Burn any prunings that have been infected with canker.
Brown cavities within the apples - Bitter pit caused by shortage of calcium and water especially on large apples - Solution: Lime in the spring and keep trees watered during dry spells in the summer.
Tree doesn’t put on much growth each year - Many possible causes but with young trees can be due to competition - Solution: Keep an area approx 1m diametre weed and grass free for the first 3 years after planting new fruit trees.
Not much fruit - Many possible causes. Poor pollination. Few bees flying. Frost. - Solution: Consider planting a few crab apples. Improve shelter with living windbreaks.