Saturday, March 10, 2012

Peaches, Peaches peaches...

So much work so little satisfaction.  We have 4 peach trees with Delicious fruits...unfortunately the Plum Curculio (PC) agrees.  It has been a thorn in my side for years.
What is a Plum Curculio?  It's a tiny beetle only about 1/4n long.  The beetle itself is not the problem.  It's the larvae.  Well the beetle is a problem, but the larvae....aaaargh... that is a PROBLEM.  The larvae, also referred to as "the worm" is a whitish grub like creature with a brown head.  You find a nice big peach, pick it and take a bite....Then in the flesh you see the worm, you spit out the bite and try to spit out anything else and gag.  So for years of battling this problem, this is the final straw.  If we can not get some control over these pesky pests this year, I am giving up on peaches. 
It is not only peaches and plums it affects.  It likes all the stone fruits.  peach, plum, apple, cherry, apricot, pear, quince...etc...etc. 
In trying to keep the yard organic, don't want any pesticides to harm wildlife, pets or people, we went to the Natural Gardener in hopes to FINALLY find the solution. 
We were advised of a spraying schedule, and hopefully this will be the year we can eat peaches fresh from the tree!!!
We started of with Beneficial Nematodes.  They are in ground warriors, that are supposed to hunt down and brutally kill bad bugs, not only the Plum Curculio, but also fleas, fire-ants, grubs, etc...
We sprayed them twice, one week apart.  Once after rain, and once before it rained.  I really hope they are planning a brutal war down in the soil....
Then after leaf drop on the trees, but before flowering  a dormant oil was sprayed on all the fruit trees in the yard.  That is a very short window here in Central TX, since at least my peaches start blooming mid-February.   Peaches, Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Plums were sprayed, every inch of the trees drenched in the solution.  War against "the Worm" is on.  I got 4 sprays in, timed roughly 10 days apart using Hi-Yield Dormant oil. 
Also in late winter/early spring when buds are forming and the tree start flowering, it is very helpful to take a hammer to the tree.  Not literally, but place some sheets under the tree surrounding the trunk.  Then hit the trunk with a mallet. Be careful and don't damage the tree.  The point is to knock the beasts down from the tree and onto the sheets, then submerge the sheets with the enemy in soapy water until they die.  I will do this weekly until every peach is picked off the tree.  Since I have never had any issues with the PC on any other fruit trees, I will not hammer any other trees.

It is also CRUCIAL to not toss damaged fruit on the ground, or let fallen peaches stay.  Eliminating "the Worm's" chance to scoot back into the soil and become adult is very important.  Diligence and patience is the only things that can get you the upper hand with these bugs. 

Now, it it stops raining anytime soon it is time to spray again.  Hopefully the forecast is correct and by tomorrow afternoon the rain is out of the area.  Don't get me wrong, we need the rain, still ...desperately....but that doesn't change the fact that I really don't like rain.  Especially when it keeps on going for days.
This time the spray will be tree specific, namely spraying at petal fall or when roughly 75% of the flower petals have fallen off the tree.  Then again at chuck split. The Chuck is the paper like covering of the baby fruit. 

I will also check the foliage for adult PC in the summer, though I am sure they will feed, and spray accordingly. 

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