Home Orchard Spray Schedule
I want to start spraying my fruit trees. Here's a link that looks helpful, about that, but I have some questions.
I have a home orchard of about 20 trees: say a dozen apple (all heirloom varieties), 4 pears, a peach, and some random others. The ages of the trees range from two to eight years old; obviously, I'm most concerned about the older ones. My goal is to have fruit for my family's use, with minimal maintenance and chemical handling.
I've never sprayed my trees, and my yields have been extremely low, so I want to start spraying to see if there's a relationship. Within a mile radius, I know of at least five active bee hives, which I believe should be enough pollinators, but maybe that's also an issue. I do get blooms on many of my trees, but only a couple dozen apples.
I think I'm doing okay with pruning them. A local orchard expert has been helping me with that. But I've been getting a fair amount of conflicting information regarding spraying, which is where you come in. (As if GW threads ever lead to consensus! But, I digress....)
Please help me with the following reality check, regarding chemicals:
Regarding pests, as I understand it, the common culprits are scab, a few funguses (fireblight, etc.), and especially plum curculio.
Scab can be controlled by dormant spray.
Fungi are controlled by capstan.
Plum curculio s controlled by Malathion, which also kills pollinators.
So, dormant spray goes on when the trees are dormant. Then capstan. Then, after petalfall, malathion. Home Orchard Spray contains all these, but should be avoided because the timing issues make it too easy to kill honeybees. So, it's better to apply them individually.
Does that sound right, as a pretty minimal approach to start out?
I'd be interested in other thoughts regarding why I'm not getting fruit. I don't see tiny apples falling off the trees, but I'll look more carefully this year.
Thanks so much,
P.S. Here are details of my varieties. Note that I want to focus on getting apples right, this year. One thing at a time.
Apples: red astrachan, gravenstein, Cox's orange pippin, northern spy, Jonathan, lady, winesap, baldwin, rhode Island greening, calville blanc d'hiver, Bramley's seedling, hidden rose
Pears: Colette, seckel, rescue, conference (fruits well)
Also: a sour cherry that I think is actually a rootstock, 2 paw-paws, and a medlar (which fruits beautifully)