organic tree care

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by head_start, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. head_start

    head_start LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    What do i do to fertilize fruit trees organicly? i am managing a property with owners who are hard core organic, and they want me to try and fertilize thier fruit trees (apples), and try and prevent bugs from eating the fruit.
    what should i do for fertilization?
    what route could i look into for insect repellant?
    Both must be strictly organic, no artificial anything can be involved.
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Barry Draycott carries 1-2-3 Tree and 2 minimum risk pesticide which meet USDA National Organic Program standards

    one gallon of tree will make 256 gallons of mix, it is most often applied as a drench at 1 to 2 gallons per DBH (diameter at breast height)

    Essential-1 is a mix of six different essential oils, you could buy Barry blower mister and apply it foliarly, with a blower mister one gallon will treat 4.5 acres or roughly 10,000 sq ft per 3 gallons of mix

    CedarCure is applied as a drench for soft bodied insects like white grubs, 16 ounces in 100 gallons of water will treat 50,000 sq ft

    With organics you are trying to build a bubble of "get out here and go somewhere else", correct timing with fruit trees is critical, you do not want to keep away the beneficials

    Vermicompost is excellent for trees just expensive but is probably the best to improve the overall health without a lot of top growth

    the site should also be composting everything they can get their hands on and applying to the soil

    covercrops are also very handy to keep weeds in check and keep top soil, clover is great for its nitrogen fixing capabilities

    go to they may have some pertinent information
  3. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,920

    Compost is your first choice. Remove all fallen leaves now to reduce fungal diseases next year. Then apply finished compost 2-3 inches deep under trees. Do not let compost touch tree trunks, and apply it out to the drip line.

    ICT Organic products are all approved by the NOP for use on organic crops.
    Use ICT Essential for insect control, ICT NPP for fungal control.
  4. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,066

    It's a fast break. Bill outlets to Barry; Barry passes back to Bill; Bill to Barry; Barry with the slam dunk with Bill getting the assist. Great teamwork! :cool2:
  5. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,920

    And it's a win-win-win situation for all! :clapping:
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    Agreed. :clapping:
  7. Hi head_start;

    My 2 cents on your fruit trees;

    First, the question on nutrition. I would suggest a soil test. Cal/Mag and pH are particularly important with fruit bearing trees. I agree completely with Barry and Bill about getting organic matter into the system.

    But it can take some time to get the biology working in your client's favor if just using compost (most commercially available compost is....lackluster).

    We're working with woody plants here, so biology wise we're wanting to promote a higher fungal biomass. So think fungal foods. Substarates with a broad C:N ratio; granular and micronized humates, fish hydroysate (not emulsion) come to mind. Easy to apply with a spreader or drench/soil injection.

    It's not just one tool in the toolbox here. You want diversity in your soil, so think diversity of microbial foods in the soil.

    And what about soil structure? Is the soil compacted? If so, topdress with compost. Mulch. Great comments from Bill on cover crops and sourcing waste from on site to make compost with local biology.


    You bring up the key word; Repellent.

    Surround (kayolin clay), Garlic, pheremone trapping/monitoring are the core of orchard insect management. All OMRI listed. These materials kill nothing. Maggot is the main pest. Some notable others. White grubs are not an issue in orchard management. Certainly won't be an issue even if surrounded by turf with enough OM in the soil.


    Scab and rust are the major issues. Compost tea...lots of fungi in the compost tea. Treat before and after extended rains, or every 10-14 days. We're not killing the scab and rust here, we're occupying infection sites.

    Immediatly following wet cycles you may choose to use Oxydate (hydrogen dioxide) which is OMRI listed. Spray compost tea right after to re-inoculate. foliar surface.

    Complete coverage is key. Tops and bottoms of leaves.

    Timing, as Bill said is critical. A complex subject too long to post here.

    Happy to help with OMRI listed materials above.
  8. quackgrass

    quackgrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    My organic tree program:

    Aerate and Compost the dripline annually.

    Deeproot injection with Humic and fulvic acids.

    Dormant oil spring, summer and fall with Purespray green (OMRI)

    Azatrol applications if needed (azatrol is an OMRI listed neem oil from PBI Gordon, works better than any other neem I have tried)

    Be carefull with neem, scorching can happen, especially with flowers. Its also very much an insecticide so wear PPE and treat it with respect.

    I also explain that some pests and fertility issues cannot be controlled with organics. I ask them if they would like me to use synthetic micro nutrients and pesticides if the tree's life is at risk. (life support)
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    What fertility issues would those be?
  10. quackgrass

    quackgrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    Generally the fertility issues are caused by severe root damage, from construction or trenching, sometimes its a fungal disease, or it can be herbicide damage.

    In cases of severe nutrient deficiency due to root damage, I choose to micro inject chelated nutrients into the trunk until the root zone is repaired. I try to target only the nutrients that are deficient in our extreme alkaline soils, (usually Magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, iron.)

    Normally I hate to inject, but if a tree doesn't have a functioning root zone or canopy, there isn't much of an alternative if the tree is worth salvaging. In our climate trees have a short window to produce leaves, miss a couple seasons of healthy leaf growth and its over.

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