Homegrowers produce quite a variety of fruits and nuts in their gardens: everything from apples, berries, and pecans to mayhaws, pomegranates, and almonds.
Many are content to harvest what is left after the deer, birds, and insects have taste-tested. Others would prefer a more reliable crop and this group keeps the county agent busy as they bring in fruit samples to the office for pest diagnosis and control recommendations. Unfortunately, by the time damage is noticed, it is usually too late for control measures.
Serious homegrowers will have greater success if they understand that a good crop is the result of proper management earlier in the season. The fall and winter months are a good time for homegrowers to study up on how to prevent pest problems in the orchard/garden. Many may find that they need to start their pest control earlier in the spring. Dormant oil application before bud swell on apples, peaches and grapes, for example, is important to help control several insects and diseases and may reduce the need for additional pesticide use later in the growing season. Stop by the Extension Office at 116 Main Street and browse through our publications to select the ones you need.
Clean-up is the most important activity for homegrowers in late fall. Fallen fruit and leaves should be collected and composted or otherwise removed from the garden area. Broken twigs or limbs should also be removed. This will eliminate potential overwintering habitat for insect and fungal pests.
For most fruit trees, pruning is best done in late winter; light summer pruning may be necessary. Our publications have good pictorial illustrations of how pruning should be done.