How To Safely Control Pests on Your Fruit Trees

By: Thomas Fryd

It is almost impossible to protect your fruit trees from pests during the summer without using pesticides or chemicals. However, many gardeners worry that traces of such substances can find their way into the fruit itself. There is a way, though, to rid your trees of pests without affecting the tree itself.

Trees may be safely sprayed with either a handheld pump or a hose-end sprayer. A pump sprayer allows you to mix the chemicals more accurately. A drawback of this method is that this device will not spray far enough to reach treetops. Hose-end sprayers are well-suited to this task, but they also tend to present a challenge when trying to obtain the proper chemical mix because they do not provide a constant water pressure. A lower pressure emits a solution with a higher chemical content, and vice versa. This is an issue because the chemical mixtures manufactured for use with hose-end sprayers are extremely concentrated and must be diluted to a much weaker strength.

It is important that you follow directions exactly when mixing chemicals for spraying, and be sure to wear the appropriate protective gear, including rubber gloves, to protect yourself from the chemicals, which can cause harm if they come into contact with your skin. Also be sure to use the exact portions specified on the label. There is no room for guesswork; mixing a solution that is too strong can kill your trees, and a mixture that is too weak will not kill bugs. When mixing the solution, be sure to start with the proper amount of pesticide and then add the water.

Once your mixing job is complete, it's time to spray. Try to distribute the same amount of solution to all the areas that need to be sprayed. Be sure not to spray so much that the liquid drips off the leaves, as any dripped pesticide will enter the ground and be absorbed by the tree's roots and passed along to the fruit. Watch out when applying on plants such as passion fruit vines if you are planning on eating the fruit.

A ladder will help you to spray the higher parts of the trees evenly. Spray in full, even sweeps to hit every leaf, and don't hit the same spots twice, as this leads to drips. The best ladder position for spraying a large, well-developed tree is at the base of the trunk. Work from the parts of the tree closest to the trunk out to the branches. Once you have sprayed all the inner parts of the tree, get out from under the canopy and work your way around the outside of the tree.

When spraying is complete, clean each piece of equipment thoroughly. Be sure to clean your clothes, too, but wash them in a separate load from the rest of the family's laundry.

As long as you keep your chemicals off the ground and wash fruit thoroughly before you eat it, there is no need to worry about pesticide contamination in your fruit.

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