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Home fruit disease management

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By Bryce Roberts

Spencer County home gardeners will soon be busy with the rush of spring planting activities. Early spring is also when primary infections occur in many fruits crops.  So, late winter is the ideal time for home fruit growers to get a jump on disease management.  

You should trim fruit trees to thin the tree canopy.  This allows for good air movement and sunlight penetration.  Rake up and destroy fallen leaves and remove and destroy fruit mummies left on trees or on the ground from last season.   Remove galls on nearby cedar trees which are a source of apple rust diseases.  Prune out fire blight cankers in existing apple trees and black knot swellings from plum trees while it is still cold.

Prune grapevines to allow good sunlight penetration and air movement for maximum fruit production.  Remove any diseased, dead or cankered vines and remove and destroy last year’s fruit mummies hanging on the vines and lying on the ground. 

Berry growers should prune out dead and winter-injured blackberry and raspberry canes and diseased blueberry twigs and branches.  Now is a good time to mulch strawberry beds between rows and under the canopy to keep fruits off the ground.  Strawberry plants need adequate spacing to help reduce gray mold fruit rot.  Hand removal of dead leaves and stems also reduces the presence of gray mold fungus. 

If you use pesticides and fungicides, be sure to read and understand product labels for proper application procedures.  Appropriate timing is important for bud and blossom development and in some cases, to protect pollinators. When ordering nursery stock for new fruit plantings, choose to plant disease resistant varieties. 

SOS Classes

You should have received a listing of our upcoming SOS Classes in your mailbox recently, but if you didn’t, I want to highlight some of the upcoming classes that may be of interest to you.

This Saturday, March 13, we will be holding a Fruit Pruning/Production field meeting beginning at 10 a.m.  It will be held on the George and Sandi Deutsch Farm, located at 537 Cotton Lane.  Bring your pruners and gloves.

I’ll be hosting a Lawn Maintenance class on Monday, March 22, beginning at 6:30 p.m. 

On the next night, Tuesday, March 23, I’ll be hosting a Vegetable Gardening Basics class beginning at 6 p.m.

On Thursday, March 25, we’ll have Sandi Deutsch and Dr. Deborah Hill, UK Forestry Department, teaching about Shiitake mushroom production.  It will start at 6 p.m. You will actually get to take home a log of Shiitakes and there is a $15 charge for the session.

The lawn, vegetable, and shiitake classes will be held at the Extension office.

We do ask that you pre-register as soon as you possibly can.  You can do so by calling our office at 477-2217 or by going online to our website.  The address is in the next paragraph.

Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu.  You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.