In the Garden: Protecting fruit trees with dormant oil spray

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) You may think there isn't much to do outside except raking, but Charlie Nardozzi shows us there is a simple step you can take now to protect your fruit and deciduous trees from insects and diseases later.

Sharon Meyer: We are in front of an apple tree Charlie, and it's got a ways to go before it does anything interesting.

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, but it has a lot of fruiting buds on it, so you are probably going to get some apples. And this time of year people are thinking ah what are you going to do? Maybe a little pruning, there's really not much to do outside.

Sharon Meyer: Raking!

Charlie Nardozzi: Raking! But one thing that is really important to do, especially if you have fruit trees or other deciduous shrubs and trees, is to spray it with a dormant oil spray. This is also called a horticultural oil spray and this brand is made with mineral oil so it's very safe.

Sharon Meyer: What's it do though?

Charlie Nardozzi: What you do is spray it on the branches and it covers it. It puts an oily coating on it so any insect eggs, or insects that are overwintering there, or even disease spores that are on the branches -- they will get covered up and get killed. Spraying horticultural oil is a great preventative to do now so you have less insect and disease problems later. A very simple thing to do.

There are a couple of qualifications though. You have to wait until the temperatures are above 40 degrees, like today, and it's not so windy, because you don't want it to spray all over the place when you are spraying the tree. And also when you are spraying it you want to cover the branch completely so that it drips off the branch. That way you are getting a nice coating on it. By doing that now, and maybe a second coating a little bit later, you can go right up to when they start leafing out. That's going to protect them from those insects and diseases for next year.

If you do it on evergreens you've gotta read the label -- always read the label -- because some evergreens might get discolored by the oil when you spray it on them. So, mostly I just use it on deciduous trees.

~by Charlie Nardozzi