Don't forget to do fruit maintenance

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By Dennis Morgeson

Now is a good time to work on fruit crops to get them ready for spring.  Fruit trees such as apple, pear, peach, plum etc. need to be properly pruned yearly to decrease insect and disease issues in the future.  You should go in and prune out crowded branches, overlapping branches, and any diseased and insect infested limbs as well.  Be sure to pull off any fruit mummies (fruit from last year still hanging in the tree) because they can contain insect and disease organisms that will be ready to cause you problems again.  Also, if you are raising apples cut down cedar trees that are within a couple hundred yards of the trees if possible.  A very noxious disease called cedar apple rust infects apples and cedar but if one is absent it can’t complete its life cycle.  Also, if you can’t cut down the cedars, then take a look at them and prune out any orange colored tissue from the tree.  Now is also a good time to spray your fruit trees with a multipurpose spray for disease and insects.  You need to do this before they leaf out and again just before bloom.  This will allow you to get the jump on this year’s problems.

Now is also time to prune grapevines to allow good sunlight and air penetration.  Usually if you prune grape vines and you think you have pruned too much then it is probably just right.  Again, remove any mummies and any diseased or damage vines.  Be ready to spray your grapes for black rot as soon as they begin to bud and again at flower.

If you haven’t cut the canes out of blackberry and raspberry that fruited last year, you should do it soon.  These are dead and are harbingers of insect and diseases.  If you have the raspberries that fruit in the summer, you can actually just take a lawn mower and mow them down now.  They will grow from the ground and flower and fruit this summer and fall.

Before weeds get started too much in strawberries you should go in and mulch the walkways.  This will reduce weed problems and reduce soil splash on the berries later this spring.  Take a look at your strawberry plants and remove any discolored leaves, dead plants, or anything that looks out of the ordinary.  Again, this will reduce future problems.

One point on using pesticides is be sure to read the label directions before application.