Winter Maintenance of Fruit Trees

by John Dromgoole

Prevention can help control insects and disease on fruit trees. January and February (or as close to bud break as possible) are the best times to apply horticultural oils to kill hibernating insects and overwintering eggs.

Fungicides control fungal disease like leaf curl and brown rot and bacterial disease like fire blight, bacterial canker, and blossom blast. Apply several times during the growing season.

Easy prevention: Clean up debris! Remove fallen leaves and fallen fruit that harbor disease and insects like the plum curculio. Mulch. Mow nearby tall grasses. Sterilize pruning tools before moving to another tree.


  • Mineral oil: Spray in January and February (or close to bud break) to kill insect eggs and overwintering insects, including scale.
  • Wettable sulfur: Spray to control fungus, bacteria and some insects.
  • Actinovate: fungicide
  • Serenade Disease Control: fungicide
  • Organocide 3 in 1 multipurpose: controls soft bodied insects, prevents fungal diseases like black spot and powdery mildew.

To control plum curculios on plums, peaches and other fruit

  • Clean up debris! This includes any fruit that falls.
  • Spray an organic insect control at petal fall and at shuck split. Do not apply pyrethrums until flowers fall to avoid killing pollinating bees.
  • Spray a kaolin clay solution on fruit.
  • Apply nematodes to kill the weevils (beetles) in the soil.


  • Hand sprayers for just a few trees or plants
  • Pump sprayer for exact control on several plants
  • Hose-end sprayer for large areas or many plants.

Article Type: How To


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