Small fruits (blueberries, cranberries, strawberries) can be managed with low to moderate sprays (often only when issues are observed), but most fruit trees will require consistent and preventative sprays for good production.
Are sprays really needed if I don’t see any pests or diseases? Yes, because most of the sprays that are used in home fruit are protective, not curative. Having our plants protected before prime windows for infection are crucial. Once the disease infection or insect feeding has begun, we are often too late to attain adequate control. So, to ensure consistent protection, growth stages are used to time sprays. Keep in mind that weather will influence frequency of sprays. Frequent rainfall will mean more frequent sprays.
If I spray well, does that save me time in other management areas? Preventative sprays for fruit trees are really only optimally effective when combined with good cultural management. Pruning is a great disease prevention tool to increase light and air movement. Sanitation that removes diseased stems and limbs as well as older fruit or leaves will reduce the inoculum in the area that can infect further. Plus, don’t forget about site and cultivar selection — those are also crucial cultural practices essential for success in home fruit. It takes more than sprays alone for success. We have a really helpful Disease and Insect Control in
Home Fruit Plantings available online at https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB1622.pdf (or you can simply search online for “UT Publication PB 1622”). We can also print you a copy here at the office! As always, please read and follow the label of any pesticide you use.
If you have any questions, please call our office at 931-722-3229 or email Megan Harris at [email protected] Adapted from the 2021 TN Home Fruit & Vegetable Calendar