Thinning the Fruit Load

We have a small window of time to thin this season’s fruit crop.  Thinning does several things:

-allows for bigger individual fruits

-allows us to remove damaged fruitlets

-helps insure a return crop next year

Peaches:  thin to 7-10 inches apart(peach wood is very brittle and will break with a heavy load

Apples: leave largest single fruit every 5-7 inches

Pears: leave 1 fruit per cluster

Thinning should be completed 45 days after petal fall.  After this time thinning will not effect fruit size or put more energy into next seasons crop.

Do not compost the fruitlets because many contain insect eggs. 


Greater Peach Tree Borer

I noticed the first wave on GPTB today in my sticky wing trap.  Tomorrow I will spray the lower trunk of my peach trees with a solution of neem.  I will not spray the leaves as this pest is interested in boring into the trunk to lay its eggs.  I will also drench the base of the tree to try and reach the grub stage of the insect.  I will attach a link from Ohio State for more information about the Greater and Lesser Peach Tree Borer.  Note that the treatment that they recommend in the article is not an organic product.

Aphids on Cherry Trees

Local grower Karen Egan had a question about an aphid outbreak on cherry trees.   Besides insecticidal soap, an application of neem oil could be effective.  The Neem tree (Azadirachta Indica) is an evergreen and native to India.  The product comes in several dilution rates.  Orchardist Michael Phillips prefers 100% neem that is available online from different sources.  Care must be taken when using because the oil is very thick.  Use warm water and add a liquid soap as an emulsifier.  The neem must be thoroughly diluted or phototoxicity can occur, causing the leaves to burn.
Also beneficial insects can be ordered that attach aphids. Check out and for more information.

Fire Blight

The fire blight season is in full swing now so keep a close eye on your trees. I will attach an article from University of Kentucky and a good article about the approved use of antibiotics in fighting this disease. If you have Michael Phillips book, The Holistic Orchard, he has a discussion on this topic as well.

I will also provide a list of disease resistant apples for our area. This is a combined list from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
Disease Resistant Apples for Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky

Pixie Crunch
Crimson Gold
Spartan (ML)
Empire (ML)
Jonafree (ML)
Ashmead’s Kernel (ML)
Northern Spy (ML)
Akane (ML)
Sir Prize
Williams Pride
Turley Winesap (ML)
(the ones listed with (ML) have done well at Hayfields)

Pruning Peach Trees – Late Pruning

Of all species, peaches can be pruned the most during the growing season.  A complete pruning after harvest can put energy into the shoots that will give fruit the following year.  Getting light on new wood (hence the need for an open center) is very important for peaches and will keep those areas productive for a much longer time.

This information came from local grower Mark Wessel via his friend Alan Haigh, an orchardist in the NY area.

Late Pruning of Apple Trees

Someone asked me the other day if it is too late to prune apple trees now that the trees are leafing out and getting ready to bloom.  Perhaps I answered too quickly when I said that it was too late.  Yes, it is too late to do the vigorous pruning you would do in the dormant season but light pruning can continue throughout the summer.

More detailed pruning information has come my way via local grower Mark Wessel.  He has a friend who is a professional orchardist in the NY area.  The advise from Alan Haigh is as follows:

Water sprouts can be wiped out any time and for the most part you can prune any season if you understand what you want and how trees respond.

Too much pruning before mid-summer and even after can have an adverse affect on the quality of the fruit.  Summer pruning can also improve the quality of fruit by getting light where you need it – when it hurts is when you make fruit watery as foliage can steer water and N away from the fruit to some degree as it ripens increasing the concentrations of sugar in the fruit. 

I will add his comments on pruning peaches, plums and cherries in another post.


Garden Cover Crop Seed Sale

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District has published a brochure to sell cover crop seeds in bulk, 1/4 lb to 10lb bags.  They are offering Crimson Clover, Beneficial Mix and Fall Cover Mix.  The website is  On the left side of the home page, click Cover Crop Sale.  You can also place orders via telephone: 513-772-7645.  These plants would add to the understory diversity of your fruit trees.