Don’t let mould or disease eat into bumper apple crops this October. Hannah Stephenson advises how to ensure your fruit keeps its bite.
You're harvesting your autumn apples only to find that the crispy crunch has been replaced by a mouldy mess, maggots have infested the fruit or scabs have formed on the outside.
Here’s how you can prevent five apple pests and diseases in future...
If you’ve noticed maggots crawling within the fruits or simply the telltale holes, these are generally the larvae of the codling moth, which have burrowed through to the core. The holes lead to secondary rots, which can happen quickly.
Andrew Salisbury, RHS principal entomologist, advises: “Put up pheromone traps in your tree. The pheromones release the scent of the female, which attracts males in, and will give you an indication of numbers, but doesn’t usually give any good control on its own.
This has been a problem this year, says Salisbury. “This aphid overwinters its eggs on the tree, they hatch in the spring and you get dense spring colonies which cause leaf curling,” he adds. “The blackish eggs aren’t really noticeable on the woody parts of the plant. It causes distortion, the fruit remains small and is often pinched at the base.”
A winter tree wash applied in autumn should kill off overwintering aphids.
Check your tree branches for signs of canker, a fungus which makes the bark shrink back in flakes and crack, usually in concentric rings and spreads each year if not addressed.
Leaves will die and fall and if the branch is badly infected, it may die off. If it gets into the main trunk, it can kill the tree. Unfortunately there is little you can do apart from pruning out affected shoots and branches, and cutting out cankers from stems.
Remedial pruning will help in the winter months and make sure you disinfect tools as you use them. Lime the soil in spring to reduce the risk of canker and add drainage material to the soil if it’s prone to waterlogging. Mulch around the tree. You could also try some more resistant cultivars.
If you end up with unsightly, scabby fruit, it’s likely to be scab, a fungal disease which likes wet, warm conditions.
depends on the weather, but the first signs are dark brown or green spots on the leaves as well as blistered shoots.
To control it you need good garden hygiene, so rake up fallen leaves and prune out damaged shoots before burning them.
Remedial pruning will help remove scabby branches, but also keep the soil healthy.
These are damaging to newer woody growth, causing distortion. The damage the aphids cause can lead to cankers. While it may not affect the fruit, a tree infested with woolly aphid doesn’t look well and can lack vigour.
Winter washing doesn’t work well on the eggs of woolly aphids. The only solution is treating the colonies in early spring by manually removing them with a stiff brush, then apply an organic insecticide.