Staying on top of pest and disease control is one of the primary maintenance activities for growing healthy apple trees. Spraying apple trees is a common practice for treating pests and diseases that many orchard owners and gardeners pay a service company to provide.
But you can easily do it yourself!
Besides the cost benefits of spraying apple trees yourself and controlling what goes on your trees, you’ll also be able to respond to pest sightings quickly, allowing for rapid treatment and better results.
If you’re considering spraying your apple trees this year, keep reading! We’ll tell you what you need to know.
Why Should You Spray Your Apple Trees Yourself?
Having a service to spray your apple trees can cost anywhere from $50 – $90 an hour, depending on how many trees you have. Using readily available store products and a sprayer, you can handle spraying your apple trees without the expense of paying a professional.
Control What Goes on Your Trees
If you hire a third party, you don’t know exactly what they’re spraying your apple trees with. Even if they tell you, who knows what else has been in their sprayers?
Doing it yourself gives you absolute control over what is sprayed on your apple trees.
Build a Self-Reliant Skill
Learning to properly spray apple trees is a valuable skill for any gardener or orchard owner, regardless of experience. If you plan on having apple trees, or any fruit trees, for the long haul, knowing how to spray and treat them yourself will pay dividends in the future and put you in charge of your home orchard.
Address Issues Quickly
Lastly, if you notice pests or diseases, you want to be able to spray the apple trees quickly to address them immediately. Calling and scheduling a service to handle this could take weeks, allowing the pests or disease to spread while you wait.
Spraying your apple trees right away can help eradicate these issues and save your trees.
What to Know About Spraying Apple Trees
Identify the Issues That Require Spraying
First things first: soil conditions, water, and sunlight can all affect apple trees, so before spraying apple trees, make sure to rule out problems with any of these. Use our Apple Tree Care Guide to help you assess the growing conditions for your apple trees.
If everything checks out with the environment your trees are growing in, then it’s safe to say there’s a pest or disease at the root of the issue with your trees. But which ones are the culprit?
Pick the Right Spray for the Job
Now that you know what you’re spraying your apple trees for, you need to find the right spray for your trees’ issue.
Some sprays are pest and disease-specific, so this can help you choose the right product for spraying apple trees. Other sprays are universal pest control formulas, but understanding what kind of insect you’re dealing with is still a good idea.
Generally, most disease control sprays are specific to the disease, with fungus being the most common.
When you purchase a spray, check the ingredients to know what chemicals you’re using. This gives you the transparency you wouldn’t have when hiring a third party to handle the treatment. The product directions will also tell you if you should keep pets and children away when spraying apple trees.
Look for Budget-Friendly Products
There is a straightforward cost benefit to spraying your apple trees yourself. For example, you can buy store-bought products such as Monterey Fruit Tree Spray or Liquid Copper Fungicide, both of which are good for multiple uses. Because they’re not expensive options, spraying your own apple trees is easy on the budget!
Prepping the Apple Tree Spray
The most important step in spraying apple trees is to read the instructions. Some sprays are concentrates that must be mixed with water, some are only applied at certain times of the year, and others are used to treat specific areas.
If you have to mix the spray yourself, take all the necessary precautions.
- Make sure to use the proper ratio
- Use a plastic bucket for mixing
- Wear gloves and eye protection
Once the spray is mixed, you can put the mixture in your applicator and prepare to spray your apple trees.
You will need a sprayer to apply the treatment, and you want to buy one that can be used for years to come. Sprayers such as the Hoss Tools garden sprayer are easy to use, durable, and last for multiple seasons.
If your solution comes premixed, just pour it in, and you’re ready to go. If you have to mix it first, make sure you follow the directions and then add it to your applicator. Spraying your apple trees should be quick once you are set up.
Sprayers will work better than spray bottles because they are made to apply a thin, even coat, and do not require constant squeezes (so, easier on your hands!). For the best results, use an applicator specifically made for garden spraying.
If you don’t want to buy a garden sprayer, you can use a standard-sized spray bottle. Just know it won’t give you the same results as a larger garden sprayer when spraying apple trees. Try to get a nice, even coat by moving slowly and only slightly overlapping your passes.
If you’re looking for a new garden spray bottle, visit Hoss Tools!
Spraying Apple Trees
Keep an eye on the weather, and make sure you aren’t going to spray your apple trees and then have the rain wash the spray away. A forecast of clear skies and no wind is best. Apply the spray in the morning to ensure you can monitor the effectiveness all day.
Where to Spray and How Much
You want to avoid spraying open buds and apples as much as possible when spraying apple trees. This is another huge advantage to doing it yourself – a hired company may want to get the job done as quickly as possible, but you can take the time to apply with care.
You will want to spray most branches and leaves but concentrate your spraying where pests or disease is found. Using a sprayer makes this easier, but even with a spray bottle, you want to ensure you hit the most problematic areas and branches.
A light coat is all you need in most cases. Applying a heavy coat of spray to your tree can suffocate it, make it difficult to avoid spraying your fruit, and even be harmful to other wildlife, pets, and children.
Most sprays tell you not to apply more than four times in a season. Some may allow more or less frequent treatments, but don’t exceed the maximum use when spraying apple trees. Chemicals can be harmful, and you can do more damage than good if you over-apply.
After you spray apple trees, you need to check on them to see the results. The afternoon after you spray is a good time to do your first check to make sure the leaves aren’t burning. If they are, wash the spray off with a garden hose – you applied too much!
If you applied the spray and still have pest issues a few days later, spray your apple trees again. Sometimes you’ll miss some pests or diseased areas, and it will take two or three passes to fully treat the trees. Remember not to exceed the maximum number of times in the instructions when spraying apple trees
If your pest issue persists after spraying multiple times, you should try and find an alternative product. Or you can use a homemade pesticide to avoid using more chemicals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will spraying my apple trees affect my apples?
If you spray the fruit, your apples may be affected, so try to avoid them when applying the spray. This is a big advantage over using a spraying service – you can be more careful with your fruit!
What product should I use for spraying apple trees?
It all depends on what’s causing the issue you need to treat, so identifying the source is step one. Try to find a product specific to the type of pest or disease present when spraying apple trees. If you cannot pinpoint a specific pest or disease, use an all-purpose pesticide or fungicide made for spraying apple trees.
What kind of applicator should I use?
A garden sprayer applicator is recommended over a spray bottle due to its ease of use, even coat, and low cost.
Ready to Spray Apple Trees?
Hiring a service provider to spray your apple trees can cost you hundreds of dollars each time while doing it yourself can cost you as little as $50. If you buy the materials, take your time, and do it yourself, you’ll save money and learn a valuable apple-growing skill.
There’s more to know about growing crops of healthy apples! Visit our Apple Trees page for links to all our apple blog posts and guides.
- About the Author
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Aaron Leeper has spent years growing everything from his own apple trees to vegetables to flowers on his hobby farm. This time growing various crops has taught him the do’s and don’ts of raising and treating plants to ensure the best outcome. A graduate of Skidmore College, Aaron enjoys bringing his knowledge to others