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Apple tree - Aphids and possbily beatles, how to treat?

Discussion in 'Pests, Diseases and Cures' started by Aldo, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Aldo

    Aldo Gardener

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    Hi, we have a 5 years old apple tree in the garden which has unfortunately developed horizontally more than vertically, and is also pretty close to bushes.
    So, while it is quite productive, fruits and foliage are quite regularly damaged by various pests.
    This year I would like to do something about it. I trimmed it, and trimmed the bushes around to limit contact with the soil or other plants, and it seemed to do well until last week, but quite suddendly it seems to suffer again from various infestations.
    I think there are aphids, possibly brought by ants, and perhaps something else too, which damages the fruits.

    I was thinking to remove all damaged foliage and fruits and discard them away from the tree, and perhaps to spray it with this concotion I found a recipe for online:
    "You can often get rid of aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Stir together 1 quart of water, 1 tsp of liquid dish soap, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Do not dilute before spraying on plants."

    Is there anything else I should do?

    Thanks for any advice,
    Aldo


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    • Gail_68

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      Hello @Aldo I've just removed 5 plants from my garden through insects...so I know how you feel about your apple tree but I have no knowledge on them, so I hope this link helps till members who have more knowledge on an apple tree can help you :)

      How to Get Rid of Aphids on Trees
       
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      • Aldo

        Aldo Gardener

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        @Gail_68
        Thanks Gail, that article is quite useful :)
        I see that SFgate also mentions in another article the same mix of soap and pepper which I read elsewhere about, so I might give it a go and see what happens.
         
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        • Gail_68

          Gail_68 Guest

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          Morning Aldo...it's worth giving it a try to see if you can save it but I also found this link for you off the forum similar pic's with one comment but the advice off the reply may also be helpful :)

          Are my trees diseased?
           
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          • Aldo

            Aldo Gardener

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            Thanks Gail :)
            Aside of the 'bacterial canker', which for the moment my tree seems not to suffer from, I think you are right the splotches on the fruits look quite similar.
            I will go on and prune more then.
            It is a pity to have to remove quite a few fruits but I know from other years that most likely if I don't trim them now they will be anyway lost to whatever pest is infesting the tree.
             
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            • Gail_68

              Gail_68 Guest

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              Hello Aldo, it's better to sort your tree with it's fruits and leaves than lose it altogether...sometimes these things happen for a reason and :fingers crossed: it will flourish back better :thumbsup:
               
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              • Sian in Belgium

                Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                @Aldo, a few basic questions...
                Firstly, how big is your tree?
                Do you know if it is on dwarfing rootstock?
                What month did you prune it?
                What percentage of leaves, and fruit, are affected?
                Are the affected leaves mainly on the lush new growth, or also on the more established parts of the tree?
                When you say there are ants on the aphids, are they on the branches generally, or v active around the aphids, with a definite "roadway" on the trunk?

                The fact that your tree has grown more horizontal is a good thing ( assuming it is not half-fallen down!), as fruit is generally borne on horizontal spurs...
                 
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                • Aldo

                  Aldo Gardener

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                  "Firstly, how big is your tree?"
                  Not very big. If it had grown straight, it would be around 3,5m tall, give or take.
                  Given it grew bent on a side, and one side branch grew upwards, now it is around 2,5m at the tallest point.
                  The main trunk is quite thin, no more than 10cm thick.

                  "Do you know if it is on dwarfing rootstock?"
                  Unfortunately I am not sure. Can I perhaps tell by examining the trunk?
                  It was either planted by my landlady, or it grew there by chance.
                  When we started renting here, it was a little thing around 1m tall and straight, with no support. Being so ignorant about gardening, initially I did not even realize it was an apple tree. In the first years I often let the garden grow wild, because I liked all the insects and wildlife it attracted, so bindweed climbed on the groing tree and forced it grow askew. When I realized that I removed it, but it was too late.

                  "What month did you prune it?"
                  Around April. I removed a few feet of branches which were threatening to take too much garden space, and some others extending to a neighbouring blackberry bush and to the ground, in the hope to prevent pests from climbing on it. I made a barrier between the bush and the trunk, given they are very close.
                  I also removed several times weeds under it, and mulch it with cuttings to slow them from coming back. I was planning to mulch with hardwood chips and perhaps try and spawn some mushrooms in that.
                  Yesterday I removed some diseased leaves, branches and spotted fruits, but very lightly.

                  "What percentage of leaves, and fruit, are affected?"
                  No more than 15-20%, mainly in the lower areas. Until two weeks ago the problem was not very evident at all.

                  "Are the affected leaves mainly on the lush new growth, or also on the more established parts of the tree?"

                  They seem to affect both large and small leaves, I am not entirely sure, but I would say probably more the new growth.

                  "When you say there are ants on the aphids, are they on the branches generally, or v active around the aphids, with a definite "roadway" on the trunk?"

                  They are very active around the aphids, most definetely.
                  I did not spot a specific roadway, or procession, on the trunk, but I will check again.
                  I have some diatomaceous earth, perhaps I should apply it to the main trunk to see if that dissuades them from climbing it?

                  "The fact that your tree has grown more horizontal is a good thing ( assuming it is not half-fallen down!), as fruit is generally borne on horizontal spurs..."
                  That is good to know. Even if honestly I was considering trying and prune it so it develops more vertically, because it cannot really take all that weight and the foliage tends to extend to the ground.
                  I thought of building a support for the trunk to prevent it from dropping too low, but I am not sure how effective that would be on the long run.


                  Thanks so much for you help Sian, much appreciated!
                   
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                  • Palustris

                    Palustris Total Gardener

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                    The ants will be 'farming' the aphis for honeydew (basically aphid urine). Put a sticky band round the tree to catch the ants as they climb otherwise they will just bring in more aphids when you clear them off the tree.
                    If you can find it, try spraying the tree with Copper sulphate, reasonably organic and it does control Scab which is what you have on the leaves and fruit.
                    Also in February/March before the leaves appear spray the tree with a Horticultural soft soap, again organic, to clear off any overwintering bugs.
                     
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                    • Sian in Belgium

                      Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                      Ah-ha!
                      A clearer picture is emerging...

                      The way to maximise fruit production in a small space is to grow trees at an angle, (Google "Apple cordons"), so this in itself is not a problem. It sounds like that side branch has now started to grow vertically, so taking over the vertical growth task... when you prune the tree, you will need to treat this new vertical branch as the "leader" branch.

                      (Another secondary question - when you say the trunk is 10cm, I take it you mean diameter, or cross-section?)

                      So 5 years ago, the tree was about a metre tall, and straight? (Starting to wonder what this tree looks like, from a distance!)

                      To find out if it is an apple-pip plant, (which is quite unlikely, unless there were children living there before you...) look at the trunk. A "normal" grafted tree will have a strange slight bulge on the trunk, about 10cm above the soil level. This is where the variety of Apple is grafted onto the rootstock. The roots determine the height and vigour of the tree, the variety determines the taste! The grafting point becomes less obvious as the tree grows older.

                      Ahhh! You pruned the tree in April. That would explain the very soft growth, which is in turn vulnerable to aphids and other creepy-crawlies. Normally you prune the tree in the winter (when no leaves or signs of growth), or in August, when this year's growth is starting to become a little woody... never mind. Sometimes needs must - if a tree is damaged or knocked, you have to prune it then, regardless of what the books say!

                      Ok, so it's not the whole tree affected, just a little of it. Did you have some heavy rain, or hail, round-about April or May? It's just that whilst there is a little bit of disease showing on some of the fruit, a lot of the damage looks like impact marks. If there is soft growth, it can be scarred by hail...

                      @Palustris advice to treat the ants, and not the aphids, is spot on. Treating the aphids involves strong chemicals, and the ants would just find some more! I would also consider using a barrier method, like a wax band, or seeing as we are now in summer, with less rain, even something as simple as lemon essential oils. I use this very successfully to stop ants coming into the house. It confuses them, as they can't follow their scent trails, so they normally go and find somewhere less challenging... not tried it outside, as we use Neem oil spray on our ant-affected trees (for us the ants are secondary, and scale insects are the main pest). Basically, with the lemon oil, you find an ant trail, and just put a drop of oil (or in the house, a cocktail stick with the oil on) on the "path".

                      To be honest, generally the tree's leaves look healthy. I would only remove any really badly curled-up leaves, and any fruit that is badly marked... The tree wants to grow, and fruit. If you have shrubs around it, they will be giving shelter to helpful creatures (birds, ladybird larvae, beetles, etc) as well as possible pests.
                       
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                      • Aldo

                        Aldo Gardener

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                        Thanks so much for the advice!
                        I will try tomorrow the sticky band trick, and perhaps the lemon oil Sian mentioned.
                        I was wondering, do you think this mix of Copper Sulphate and lime would it be a good choice, or shall I stick to the Copper sulphate only?
                        Copper sulphate and lime mixture. Fungicide Bacteriocide Blight Canker Mildew | eBay

                        Thanks,
                        Aldo
                         
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                        • Aldo

                          Aldo Gardener

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                          Hi Sian, thanks so much for all the info!

                          when you prune the tree, you will need to treat this new vertical branch as the "leader" branch.

                          I see that now that tall branch is starting dropping forward, while before it was growing straight. So I am not sure if it would make for a good leader.
                          Actually I was thinking to tie some of the main branches to a fence post behind to straightening it up temporarily , which would give me slightly more garden space, while keeping more of the plant far off the ground.

                          Another secondary question - when you say the trunk is 10cm, I take it you mean diameter, or cross-section?
                          Having checked again, I think I was being a bit too optimistic.
                          I meant the cross-section, but actually it might be closer to 7 cm than 10.

                          So 5 years ago, the tree was about a metre tall, and straight? (Starting to wonder what this tree looks like, from a distance!)

                          I can take a picture tomorrow !
                          It does not look like much though, I am afraid, particularly from a distance :)

                          A "normal" grafted tree will have a strange slight bulge on the trunk, about 10cm above the soil
                          level


                          I did not notice any, but I'll check again.

                          Ahhh! You pruned the tree in April. That would explain the very soft growth, which is in turn vulnerable to aphids and other creepy-crawlies. Normally you prune the tree in the winter (when no leaves or signs of growth), or in August, when this year's growth is starting to become a little woody... never mind. Sometimes needs must - if a tree is damaged or knocked, you have to prune it then, regardless of what the books say!

                          Thanks, that is very instructive. I never quite considered that new growth might be more susceptible to diseases and pests, but it makes perfect sense.
                          In this case, rather than emergency, it was a case of me knowing nothing about pruning trees, so I only thought of doing that when I noticed that the branches were extending horizontally and taking too much space. So I negotiated with my kid the pruning. If it was for him, nothing would ever be pruned or cut, as it makes plants unhappy :)

                          Did you have some heavy rain, or hail, round-about April or May? It's just that whilst there is a little bit of disease showing on some of the fruit, a lot of the damage looks like impact marks. If there is soft growth, it can be scarred by hail...

                          We certainly had some spells of pretty bad weather and very heavy rain, but not hail. At least, not that that I realized. I never considered it might bruise the fruits, good to know.

                          I would also consider using a barrier method, like a wax band, or seeing as we are now in summer, with less rain, even something as simple as lemon essential oils. I use this very successfully to stop ants coming into the house. It confuses them, as they can't follow their scent trails, so they normally go and find somewhere less challenging...

                          That's very fascinating. Actually, I do have some lemon oil, for treating guitar fretboards. I might give it a go!


                          To be honest, generally the tree's leaves look healthy. I would only remove any really badly curled-up leaves, and any fruit that is badly marked... The tree wants to grow, and fruit. If you have shrubs around it, they will be giving shelter to helpful creatures (birds, ladybird larvae, beetles, etc) as well as possible pests

                          That's good to know. And it's true, I spotted some yellow ladybirds on the shrubs. I read on James Wong book that using Jasmine extracts was proven to enhance a number of fruits and also to attract ladybirds. I did not give it a go because I am already buying bits and bobs every week, and I am honestly scared of running the total at the end of the season.
                          But certainly it is fun, for me and also my family, and I am learning a lot of things I had no clue about before.

                          Also thanks to kind gardeners like you, thanks so much for helping me out :)
                           
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                          • Palustris

                            Palustris Total Gardener

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                            Some Apple trees do not like lime, so I would just use straight copper sulphate.
                             
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                            • Aldo

                              Aldo Gardener

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                              Thanks for the warning, I will use copper sulphate only then.
                               
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