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Protecting peaches

Posted by lilacs_of_may 5/6 (My Page) on
Sun, May 20, 07 at 2:50

My peach tree didn't put out any peaches last year, and I thought maybe it just never would. It blossomed this spring, and a couple days ago I was out in the garden and noticed these fuzzy things on my peach tree. It took me several seconds to process the fact that what I was seeing was immature peaches.

I'm thrilled at the idea of plucking ripe peaches off my tree this year (peach cobbler, peaches and vanilla ice cream, yum!), but how do I protect them from bugs, squirrels, diseases, etc.? So far, I haven't done anything with or to the peach tree because I assumed it was just an ornamental peach tree rather than a functional one.

I've heard of spraying fruit trees for bugs, but I'm trying to go the organic route.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Protecting peaches

Lilacs, it is hard to grow peaches organically. I would say the best route is to buy some try-on footies (little hose things used to try on shoes) and put each peach in a footie with a twistie to tie it on. This will put a physical barrier between the bugs and the fruit. if you search this forum for "footies" you will find some discussions as well as on-line places to buy them from. I am in the middle of putting footies on my peaches right now. Last year I used cotton drawstring bags and they also worked well.

I don't know what the squirrels are like in your area but around here they will steal all your fruit if given the opportunity. So keep your eyes out for them.

Scott


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RE: Protecting peaches

I grow mine organically, and the best thing I can do for my peaches is to hand pick any tents (Eastern tent caterpillars out now), watch carefully for other problems and address specifically, prune to let in light, and thin (8 inches apart) so that they get some size and don't touch to spread things like brown rot.
I've also had good plum and pear crops growing without any pesticides so far, even organic ones.
I can't help you with the squirrels, however...
Ann


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RE: Protecting peaches

When do you start covering with "footsies"? Mine are the size of nickels right now.


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Frank, the sooner the better. Look to make sure the fruit is unblemished before covering it. Every location is different in terms of how quickly you need to cover, based on the bug pressure. In my area the bug pressure is intense, first with plum curculio and then with Oriental Fruit Moth. I have been able to delay a bit this year because I sprayed with Surround; still, half of the peaches are bitten already.

Scott


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RE: Protecting peaches

Frank:

Agree with Scott on the intensity of pressures from PC and OFM on young peaches. I also think Scott's use of try-on nylon "footies" on peaches is the best way to reduce the need to spray later in the season. I have 150 "footies" ready to go here. Unfortunately, I seem to have at least twice that many peaches, even after several thinnings.

However, I wait until the peaches are at least the size of a quarter before selecting those to bag, because I cannot tell for sure if they will continue to develop well until they reach that size. Those that slow or stop growth will eventually fall off, and I don't want to waste the material and labor of installing "footies" on them. To get them to that size without insect damage, I spray with Imidan and a fungicide (for early mildew) 3 to 4 times before making the final thinning selections and bagging the peaches. Imidan sprays keep insect damage to less than 5%. I am not morally or politically committed to organic growing, but I do want to eliminate the need to spray all season long. Insect sprays degrade rapidly after application, as evidenced by the fact that they become ineffective against their insect targets in a matter of days. I believe the chances of even trace amounts of pesticides remaining on the fruit at picking time, when you have stopped spraying that early, are pretty close to zero.

I don't know how Ann is able to raise peaches organically in Pennsylvania. Removing tent caterpillars might prevent a little damage to the foliage, but the insects that directly attack peaches are the plum curculio and oriental fruit moth, and they do not build tents on trees.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Protecting peaches

Wow, that's a lot of footies. I guess I'd have to abandon the ones too high for me to reach. Mine are about an inch to an inch and a half long.

Squirrels are evil. Mine will steal anything. They dug up and killed my dwarf iris. I was busy planting some TB iris rhizomes and keeping an eye out for them, and they were busy digging up the dwarfs. And between the time I planted the TB and the time after snow melt that I went out to look at them, the squirrels dug up and made off with 6-8.

I'll look into footies.


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RE: Protecting peaches from squirrels

Lilacs:

Some of us have been firing at squirrels with pellet guns for years, and a few have actually been hitting them. I don't neccessarily recommend that for more tender hearted persons, however. For them, there is the plaster of paris/peanut butter mixture ball, placed where the squirrel will find it. The plaster of paris, when ingested into the squirrel, slows their movements and makes them very statuesque. Try making a few of these wonderful, tasty balls, and watch your squirrel problems fade away. Don't eat them yourself, or feed them to the dog.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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RE: Protecting peaches

  • Posted by billv z6 WVA (My Page) on
    Mon, May 21, 07 at 10:59

Good luck with the footies. OFM drilled right through the ones I tried. Plastic bags worked better for me but I would be interested to hear how the nylons worked for others; they were much easier to put on and stayed on quite well. Perhaps I could have done it differently.


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RE: Protecting peaches

Billy:

That's one of my concerns. It seems to me that the fine mesh of the footies would be easy for the OFM to penetrate for egglaying. I am going to try them for this season, but I have my doubts.

I am not finding the footies at all easy to install; at least twice as time consuming as the sandwich bags I have used. The fine mesh of the nylon will not slip on the rough surface of a peach, so you have to have the footie fully open and get it past any adjoining twigs or leaves to get a reasonably good seal at the stem end. Then I am twirling up the excess material at the stem end and stapling it with a mini-stapler. In many cases I am not getting as good a seal at the stem end as I did with the plastic.

I will be interested to see how well they hold up to wind, and whether the growth of the peach will pull the stapled end even further away from the stem. With all the manipulation, I have broken off a few peaches that I had selected to retain. You have to be careful, and have a very good angle to work. That becomes much more difficult when you are working from a ladder on higher peaches. Another good argument for keeping the height of peach trees down.

I do see a considerable advantage in allowing the peaches to breathe as they grow up, and perhaps the footies will not become havens for earwigs as the plastic baggies did. BTW I am seeing PC and OFM damage on a small percentage of the peaches, in spite of several sprays with Imidan after petal fall and during the thinning period. I am pretty sure that would be closer to 90% had I not sprayed. The bugs are definately around.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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This is also my first year with the nylon footies but I had heard of good luck from others. Last year I used cotton drawstring bags and they worked very well. Maybe the installation technique is a factor. If you are not careful you can have the footie stretch very thin over part of the peach.

Don, I tried stapling but ended up just tying by hand - pull over the peach, twist the edge on each side to make two "strings", and tie them on the other side of the limb. It makes an excellent seal. I did some with half a square knot, and the others with a full square knot. The nylon adheres very well to itself so I'm not sure a full knot will be needed but I may have to go back and knot a bunch that I didn't do square knots on if they loosen. This knot tying was somewhat difficult at first but I got a lot better with practice.

Scott


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RE: Protecting peaches

OFM? PC? I don't know what those are.

Maybe homemade mesh bags would work. Drawstring bags made out of curtain material perhaps.


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RE: Protecting peaches

lilacs:

If you don't know what OFM and PC are, you have not been paying much attention to what goes on here. They are the oriental fruit moth and the plum curculio, the two principal pests of peaches in the eastern U.S. They are part of the discussion quite frequently when the subjects of peaches and stone fruits come up. If you want to protect your peaches, you will have to learn what they are and the various ways to try to deal with them. That's the subject of this whole thread.

Scott: I will try the knotting idea. Sound simpler than using the stapler, which is awkward. You are right that there is always plenty of material to get hold of, since these things stretch so much. Turns out my footie boxes contain a nominal 100 footies, but actually more like 125, so I will have plenty to go around. Still have one very large tree to do, but did three smaller ones today. Over 125 footies. I will be seeing footies in my dreams.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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Don:
I have several pictures of long pectin strands coming out of the nylon footies I used but certainly not all peaches were affected. It is possible some OFM were discouraged and I would have no evidence. I'm not sure why I would have had less trouble attaching the footies unless mine were somehow larger. Peaches of course are massively more difficult than apples because of their direct attachment to the limb. The slowest part of the operation for me was trying to close the footie - very hard to tie around the stem with leaves everywhere. I finally just left them open and only a very few came off. As the peach grows, the footie gets tighter, obviously. I used the sandwich bags also and actually had some of them broken apparently by the growing peach. Earwigs in the bags were not a problem with the footies. I will be interested to hear how they work for you - a mid-April cold snap has ended my plans to try again this year on peaches but I do plan to bag some apples.


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First damage. 2 little guys bit the bullet. Is this the work of the dreaded OFM or PC?

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I'll add that its been VERY dry here this spring and i've had damage on Plums/Peaches/Blueberries/and a watermelon seedling consisting of leaves being eaten... Not sure if that helps.


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Sorry I'm too stupid for you Jellyman. I'm a newbie. It kind of goes with the territory. No, I DON'T know anything about raising peaches! I've never done it before! Duh!

I just realized last weekend that the fuzzy things on my peach tree were, in fact, peaches. A year ago, when I bought this, my first house, I didn't even know it was a peach tree. I came onto the fruit forum here because I wanted to learn about my new peach tree and how to successfully grow the little fuzzy things on my tree to be juicy succulent fruits that I can slice onto my oatmeal.

I kind of figured it was okay for a newbie to ask questions. If there's some unwritten rule against that, I guess I'm not bright enough to figure that out, either.

Sorry to have offended you. I'll ask elsewhere.


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Frank:

Looks like PC to me, but that is sure a fuzzy little thing. Are you certain it is not a small bunny?

Lilacs: I am not saying you are stupid, only asking that you read the stuff that people write back for your benefit. Up there somewhere is Scott's post of May 20, which spells out oriental fruit moth (OFM) and plum curculio (PC). Put 2+2 together. I know you are a newbie, but you have to actually read the stuff that people write or you will stay one. Nobody wants that to happen.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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Lilacs, on just about every forum I've ever belonged to it is requested that newbie questions be searched in prior posts to prevent repetive questions that have already been answered that are tiresome to long-time members. It just keeps the converstation moving forward. You could also Google OFM PC, peach and have gotten a quick answer without someone having to give it to you. If you get corrected on a forum, it's best to learn from it not lash out. Jellyman and others here have so much to offer in experience; he didn't call you stupid or not bright nor was he offended. I prefer we stick to talking peaches and leave the topic of ourselves, our reactions and emotions out of it, shall we?


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Aren't they though? Very fuzzy. Growing everyday in this hot weather. I don't have any footsies yet, so i hope the attacker can hold off. Its a Reliance. I'm going to check a neighbors Peach trees (4 big ones) and see what sort of damage i can find.


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Time for my bi-annual "buck the trend" post. Up to 75 trees. I still have no PC problems with peaches while doing zero spraying. Don't know why. My plums and apricots get devastated without spraying. I MUST spray my plums, apricots, cherries, apples,and nectarines. My peaches and pears produce excellent fruit with zero spraying. Go figure.
Unfortunately, my peaches are starting to get more scab lesions.


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Lilacs:

I don't want you to go away, so let me apologize if it sounded like I was talking down to you. You are obviously a sophisticated person and a good writer. I have a soft spot for people who use caps and punctuation, even though they are out of fashion. So even if you are a little ticked off, stick around and read the stuff on peaches. There are some pretty good ideas kicking around here, like use of the footies etc., and somebody is going to get some peaches out of the deal. Might as well be you.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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Can anyone give me a website from which I might purchase footies? I tried www.homeorchardsociety.org/footies/ but they were sold out...

Thanks!


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ouiquitt:

I purchased my footies from Store Supply Warehouse, of Harrisburg, PA, tel. 1-800-823-8887. Stock number of the ones I purchased is 64106, and I think they cost $3.95 for a box of a nominal 100, which actually contained 125. Shipping costs are the same for one or several boxes. I bought two boxes, which was barely enough. Store Supply may have a website; you can look around and see. I just picked up the phone, gave them my credit card number, and the footies were on my front porch the next day via UPS.

You don't give a hint of where you are located, but if you are in a temperate peach growing area there is plenty of time to buy footies for installation next spring. Since your first instinct was to try the Home Orchard Society, I am guessing you are somewhere in the West. If HOS prices are competitive, there would seem to be no emergency to obtain a product that will not be used until next May.

The footies I installed last spring, using the single-tie method across the branch or twig (the stapling I initially did was awkward and unnecessary) were responsible for the largest and highest-quality peach harvest I have ever had in over 25 years of trying. Losses from oriental fruit moth damage were near zero, and the peaches colored up nicely in the footies. With the footie tied once around the twig or branch, peaches can be left on the tree to ripen much longer without danger of falling off from weight or wind. But you do have to check them once in a while to ensure they do not become overripe on the tree. And they do not stop bacterial spot on susceptible varieties if you have that disease around, which I do. Golden Jubilee had no bacterial spot at all, but Sugar Giant, a white Zaiger variety, had so much that I threw out half the peaches. For me the lesson was: Don't plant West Coast peach varieties in Northern Virginia.

I thought I might be able to recycle and save used footies from year to year, but found that sunlight degrades the material so that it becomes too weak and tears easily. So I threw them all out and will start over with fresh footies next spring, but will probably buy 3 or more boxes. Well worth it. These footies are the cat's whiskers for peach growing.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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Thanks so much for the help! It's a shame they don't work for reuse, but they sound inexpensive enough to be well worth the new ones each year. I'm in New England, so I certainly won't need them until next year, but I only just learned about this while looking online for something completely different and got excited.

Thanks again,
Susanna


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Back to the squirrels... I think the fat and happy squirrels in my back yard have taken all my peaches. One day I have too many peaches to count, (golf ball size) the next day I have NONE. My nature lover's heart can't stomach the plaster of paris & PB option. Can't a girl love peaches and squirrels? Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of "keeping an eye on them" every day. Any other animal friendly options to keep the squirrels out of my peach tree, short of buying a coon dog? I could handle a little attrition, but I'm hoping not to be robbed blind next time my tree produces peaches.

My first time with any fruit tree EVER! Not my first with squirrels.
Dawn, (Austin, Tx)


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RE: Protecting peaches

Dawn:

The simple and honest answer on the relationship between fruit and squirrels is no. You cannot love both. I am sorry to have to tell you this, but some pretty tender-hearted persons other than yourself have eventually come to this conclusion, right on this forum. I think some of these tender hearts have eventually become pretty handy with a pellet gun. A few have provided recipes.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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I also live in northern VA and have started a small fruit orchard. Yesterday, I was perusing my land and noticed the dreaded 'leaf curl' on my peaches. Aaagh! BTW, I also noticed the peaches themselves! I just planted the trees last year and have been reading up on everything I can learn about fruit trees. I've had squirrel trouble in the past where all the peaches vanished overnight. I thought it was neighborhood kids until I noticed a half-eaten peach half-buried in one of my planters. I'm definitely a tree-hugging old hippie type, but when it comes to protecting the fruits of my labors (pun intended), I'll raise a pellet gun in no time. The trouble is, the peaches seem to disappear at night. How do you control the nighttime bandits?


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All of my outside fruit, sweet cherries, plums, and nectarines that were near ripe were stripped from the trees last night. These were all "protected" with the nylon footies. Yes that includes the ~50 sweet cherries that have cost me $500 and 5yrs of effort. Haven't had a ripe one yet. Well, I'm pretty sure this was a racoon. At night it is probably a coon or possum.

Mine will be dead in 24 hrs. I've got a trap and a 22 and he'll be back tonight. Actually it is probably several racoons. In the past they've taken apples but never all of them. But this is the first ripe, well nearly ripe, stone fruit I've had in a couple yrs.

The Fruitnut


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Fruitnut,

Be sure and let us know what happens! I would be very mad to have all fruits stipped before harvest. Good Luck!


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We have problems with raccoon bandit parties at the expense of our fruit (mostly plums). Now we use sections of metal stovepipe around the main branches and trunk, sometimes coated with clean oil. It has saved our fruit from the marauders. Wonder if it would work for your squirrel problems too?


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