JoAnne Skelly: Michael’s Apples

In the 1990s, I was the coordinator of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program for four counties. Volunteers signed up for 45 hours of horticulture classes in exchange for a fee and 45 hours of volunteering. I had one very dedicated volunteer, Michael Janik, now of Michael’s Apples, who went on to become a leader in Northern Nevada in raising, training and pruning apples and other fruits. He writes a free monthly email newsletter that is a terrific resource if you are into fruit tree care and maintenance. He is who I turn to when I need expert advice on anything to do with fruit trees.

In his most recent newsletter, Michael said, “October is the time to check and cut back on watering and to start preparing the trees for the winter.” He recommends a deep soaking now, not only to fruit trees, but to all the plants in the landscape. He also stresses, “Pick up and discard all fallen fruit to remove insect eggs and larvae in the fruit.” In addition, he emphasizes, “Remove all fruit left on trees, so they don’t become hotels for insect pests over winter.” Michael uses a “50/50 mix of interior latex paint and water painted on tree trunks to prevent winter sunscald especially on the southwest side.” He points out that “Peaches will benefit from some paint on the upper side of limbs exposed to the southwest.”

Michael reduces rodent predation of tree trunks over winter by removing 12 inches (young trees) to 18 inches (older trees) of mulch, leaves and other debris away from the trunk. He also puts plastic tree guards or wire guards (1/4-inch hardware cloth) around the trunks of fruit trees to further protect the trunks from critters. He takes the guards off in the spring so trunks aren’t damaged as they grow and so earwigs can’t live between the plastic and the trunk.

Michael reminds us to “check soil moisture at the drip line of the trees every holiday through the winter and water as needed.”

Michael shared some fun corn mazes and pumpkin patches to visit this month:

Gardnerville — Corley Ranch Pumpkin Patch,

Fallon — Lattin Farms Fall Festival,

Spanish Springs — Andelin Family Farm Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze,

You can reach Michael and sign up for his free newsletter through his website,

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at


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