Organic Control of Fruit Tree Diseases

apple tree

Organic control of fruit tree diseases can take many different forms. Although controlling diseases in fruit trees can be a challenge without using pesticides or commercial products, it is very possible to grow organic fruit without using harmful chemicals.

General Care Prevents and Provides Organic Control of Fruit Tree Diseases

One of the best things you can do to try to prevent diseases in the first place, is to grow a healthy fruit tree. To grow a healthy tree, there are some general rules of thumb you can follow for just about any fruit tree type.

  • Test your soil and add minerals and organic material as needed.
  • In the fall, use organic gardening mulch around your trees.
  • Use compost to help feed your trees.
  • Prune only when absolutely necessary and never in the winter.
  • Try not to upset the soil around your trees as you can disturb the roots and throw off the tree's natural balance.
  • Use plants under your tree that pests dislike, such as chives, garlic, marigolds or coriander.

These are just a few of the things you can do to grow healthier fruit trees. A healthy tree is much less susceptible to disease and pests.

Apple Trees

Apple trees may be one of the most common trees found in backyards of home gardeners, particularly in the Midwest and on the eastern seaboard. Apple trees are fairly easy to grow, need little care and bear fruit year after year. There are many varieties of apples today, and some varieties are more resistant to particular diseases than others. Here are a few of the diseases you might face as an apple tree owner.

  • Apple Scab: This is a fungus and a fairly serious disease if not caught early. Organic gardeners often use sulfur-based sprays to rid the tree of this disease. One of the best ways to prevent this disease is to immediately get rid of falling leaves in the fall.
  • Fire Blight: This is a bacteria. The only organic treatment is to cut out infected limbs as quickly as possible in an effort to minimize damage.
  • Mildew and Rots: There are a wide family of diseases that fall under this category.

Again, the best treatment is prevention. The best methods are choosing location wisely, pruning out deadwood, keeping the tree in shape where it can get air and light and removing fruit "mummies".

Peach Trees

Another favorite tree is the wonderful and sumptuous peach tree. There are areas of the country that are better suited to growing this fruit than others, such as Midwestern and southern states. In these states, the peaches will be more disease resistant and will fare better. Some common ailments include:

  • Brown Rot: A fungal disease, this is common in humid areas where peaches are grown. One technique is to thin out the center branches to open up the center of the tree and allow for proper air circulation. This helps the leaves and branches dry out after a rainfall.
  • Peach Leaf Curl: A fungus, this often happens after a spring with heavy rainfall. Lime sulfur is one of the best treatments, but must be sprayed regularly to prevent the fungus from taking hold.

There are other diseases which peaches are also susceptible to, but these are two of the most common.

Whether you plan to grow peach, cherry, apple, orange, pear or lemon trees, each variety and type of fruit tree is prone to different diseases. There is no tree that is truly disease proof, but there are varieties that are more resistant to particular conditions in your area.

It is wise to talk to several nurseries about your options, which diseases are prevalent in your area and which trees withstand those diseases the best. Remember that prevention is the biggest part of the battle, but if your fruit trees do contract a disease or pest, there are many options available that will still allow you to grow an organic crop.

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Organic Control of Fruit Tree Diseases