JoAnne Skelly: Managing fruit tree pests

My friend Michael Janik, of Michael’s Apples, is a fruit tree expert. He sent out an April newsletter with tips on pest control and said I could share them.

“Look at your fruit trees. Notice that many of the buds are swollen and enlarged; the trees have gone from the dormant to the delayed dormant stage. Watch your trees more closely to see when the spring leaves begin to emerge signifying the next growth stage: 1/4-inch green tip.”

“Dormant, delayed dormant and up to 1/4-inch green tip are the times to use dormant oil to control aphids, scales and other pests. The oil smothers the pests in the egg phase before they hatch. Dormant oil is one of the most benign pesticides (to humans), is easy to use, and is used in both organic-approved and traditional pest management programs.”

“Read label directions, use only products specifically recommended for your particular fruit tree or plant, and follow the label instructions, especially for clothing, gloves, eye protection and respirators. Use a different sprayer for the various applications; don’t spray insecticide or dormant oil from a sprayer that once contained an herbicide!”

“Do not use pesticides when trees are in bloom!” (You will kill the honeybees and other pollinators and reduce apple production.)

“After blossom drop, the battle starts against the codling moth. The moth (about 1/2 inch long with coppery wing tips) lays its eggs in the spring; the larvae (dang worms) emerge and bore into the fruit, feed, and then leave the fruit, pupate and restart the cycle. The cycle repeats two or three times each year in Northern Nevada.”

“Timing your spray to kill the larvae at hatch is the key to minimizing damage.”

Grow Your Own classes are being offered by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension to help you grow more of your own food with better harvests. The classes are at 6 p.m. at the Reno Cooperative Extension Office, 4955 Energy Way. The topics are: Today — Vegetable Garden Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects; April 20 — Ins & Outs of Fruit Trees; April 25 — Vegetable Garden Pest Control; and April 27 — Successful Berry Growing Basics. The fee is $15 per class. To register, go to, or call 775-784-4848. You can also purchase a flash drive with the information for all the classes including those that occurred earlier in April: Starting Plants from Seeds or Cuttings, Growing Tomatoes, The Challenge of Gardening in Nevada Soils and Attractive and Edible Landscapes.

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


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