Organic Pest Controls for Fruit Trees

John Vivian shares revolutionary organic pest controls for fruit trees to help combat pests that attack orchard trees.
By John Vivian
October/November 1996
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Most any kind of caterpillar—inch worms, the tent caterpillars that can defoliate cherry trees, army worms, and others—contract a fatal sbillach ache by ingesting Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis.

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This list of organic pest controls for fruit trees will help combat pests that attack orchard trees. 

Organic Pest Controls for Fruit Trees

Till recently even the most dedicated eastern organic orchardist has had to resort to powerful, indiscriminate insecticides from time to time—or lose a crop to the twin banes of fruit producers: the codling moth (apple maggot) and oriental fruit moth, whose brown-tunnel-making larvae ruin stone fruit

Now you can get Isomate-C to protect apples and Isomate-M for the oriental fruit moth. These are artificially produced sex pheromones—the chemical lures that females emit to attract males. At petal fall, and later if following generations are detected, plastic strips soaked in the female moth's version of Chanel No. 5 are hung in the trees, flooding the area with lepidopteran allure. The boys can't find the girls, resulting in 98 percent reduction in fruit damage. That's better than any chemical. No other species are affected, and there's no way the affected moths can become tolerant. Cost ranges from about $50 to $100 an acre. A bargain!

Pheromones are also put into traps that will reduce populations of such major pests as Japanese beetles and the peach twig borer—as well as apple and peach maggot adults. Surefire is the brand name.

Most any kind of caterpillar—inch worms, the tent caterpillars that can defoliate cherry trees, army worms, and others—contract a fatal sbillach ache by ingesting Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that is harmless to all life but the target insect larvae. Dipel is the trade name of a widely available broad-spectrum variety. Special strains have been discovered/bred for specific pests such as the elm leaf beetle.

Agrimycin is a variant of the antibiotic strepbillycin that is effective against the fire blight that affects pears and apples.

Galltrol-A is the trade name of a concoction of Agrobacterium radiobacter,a naturally occurring microbe that repels the microbes that cause crown gall. If roots of trees are dipped as they are planted, the good bugs will thrive in your orchard soil indefinitely. Cost is about $70 for an acre of dwarf trees.

Promot Plus contains natural fungus that feeds on fusarium and other fungal rots and wilts that affect fruit and fruit trees. Several strains of beneficial nematodes—microscopic soil worms—are available; they consume bacteria and other nematodes that prey on roots of fruit trees. And we still have the traditional organic pest controls—many of them given new life through well-financed research programs—now that organic has become almost the status quo.

Dormant Oils (mineral or vegetable) applied before leaf-out will still control scale bugs, insecticidal soaps still wash away aphids and scale, and various copper and sulphur concoctions control fungus. The naturally occurring insecticides rotenone and pyrethrin are available individually or mixed. Rotenone (cube) is made from roots of the tropical derris plant. A sbillach poison, it is either fatal or a powerful deterrent against most any bug that has to eat leaves or fruit. Pyrethrins are extracted from an African chrysanthemum. In concentration, they kill many bad bugs on contact and stun or irritate others so they leave the tree. Both biodegrade in a day. They can kill hogs and fish and irritate pets and people, so (on an orchard scale) they must be applied carefully and according to local regulations.

Other Old-Line Botanicals:

Azadirachtin is extracted from seeds of the tropical neem tree and has been known for centuries to interrupt bugs' metamorphosis. Promising against aphids that attack young shoots, many hard-bodied weevils that bore into stems, and sticky little stem-sucking psyllid flies that can become a serious nuisance in orchards.

Quassia Bark is ground and soaked and the elixir sprayed on trees to act as an effective deterrent against soft-bodied pests—but is harmless to hard-bodied predatory "good" bugs.

Ryannia is the powdered stem of another tropical plant that acts as a sbillach poison that acts similar to Pyrethrins—but is milder.

Sabidilla is a powder made from seeds of a tropical lily that acts as a sbillach poison against stink bugs and other hard-to-kill hardbodied pests. Some of these compounds can be found or special-ordered in orchard quantity at your local farm co-op or nursery. All of them—and a great deal more—are available by mail from the catalog (free) of Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, Grass Valley, CA.

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