Caring for your apple tree in June not only helps it produce a great apple harvest, but also helps improve the quality of the fruit. Several factors affect the apple harvest, and the timing of the tasks is an important factor.
First, take a look at the apples on the tree and check if there are too many people. You can remove the smaller fruits and those that appear damaged, so that the remaining apples become bigger and healthier in the months to come.
This thinning improves the quality of the apples. Its effectiveness can vary on each tree, but it can help reduce stress on a tree that is trying to produce too many apples. Thinning the excess can also reduce branch breakage.
June is an important month for observing apple trees to decide whether pruning the branches could help the tree produce more fruit. While pruning trees now is not recommended, it is a good time to plan ahead.
If some branches aren’t producing much fruit, maybe pruning next spring might help, at the recommended time. Removing branches that are congested at this time can help prevent diseases that might arise in a tree that is too dense. Observing the tree now can help identify branches that need to be pruned.
All dead branches should be pruned now, when they are easy to identify. Care should be taken not to damage the living branches of the tree while removing the dead parts.
Dead branches should be pruned in early summer, when they are visible. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
June is a good time to put wood chips or compost around your apple trees. This helps the soil to hold water and allows the tree to grow better and stay hydrated. Mulch keeps unwanted weeds or grass from growing next to your tree. As a bonus, the mulch around the trees makes the yard look great.
Insect problems are common on apple trees, and the most common insect is the apple maggot. The larvae of these insects are creamy white and leave brown streaks across the apple. Damage is often not noticed until the apples are picked, and streaks are found when the apples are cut. By this time, the larva has usually left the apple.
There are several ways to control apple maggots. You can spray for adult flies before they have a chance to lay eggs on apples. The eggs hatch in larvae which tunnel into the apples. The most effective types of insecticides are carbaryl, malathion, and spinosad. Always read and follow the directions on the label.
Because the flies continue to lay more eggs during the growing season, a spray every seven to 14 days is necessary until the adult flies stop laying in August. Spraying doesn’t always prevent all maggot damage, but it does help to minimize it and reduce the maggot population for the next year.
Another way to reduce apple maggot damage is to pick up any infected fruit as it falls from the tree. This removes the fruit before the larvae have a chance to enter the soil where they survive the winter, waiting to re-infect the tree next year.
This week’s “Brighter Futures” column was written by Aaron Voigt, North Dakota State University Extension Intern for the Cass County Office. Don Kinzler, a longtime gardener, is the NDSU extension horticulturist for Cass County. Readers can reach him at [email protected]