Summer Pruning Guide: Fruit Trees Edition

Are you looking at your abundant fruit harvest and wondering the best way to keep fruit trees aesthetically pleasing in addition to producing delicious fruit, before we get into fall and winter (that’s when the real pruning work begins)?

Summer Fruit Tree Pruning

Are your fruit trees looking heavy? Do your fruit trees have deadwood?

Now is the time to take care of some proactive fall pruning work, with some summer fruit tree pruning!

As a reminder, as a general rule of thumb the majority of pruning fruit trees happens during dormancy. Winter pruning encourages new growth on the fruit trees. This will occur in December and January.

This DIY fruit tree article is to help you get a little ahead of the game. Here’s what you can trim during summer:

 

  • Thin out deadwood on fruit trees. During dormancy it may not be as easy to determine live tissue from dead. If you see deadwood on fruit trees now, it’s ok to remove. Thinning out deadwood will also help distribute the sunlight more evenly throughout the tree.
  • Summer pruning uses thinning cuts which does not encourage new growth (as opposed to winter pruning which stimulates growth). During the summer months, remove leafy upper branches that are over-shading fruit on the lower branches.
  • The summer thinning cuts help build your ideal tree limb structure. If you have young fruit trees, summer pruning is ideal.
  • If you want to keep your mature fruit trees at an easy-to-harvest height, summer pruning helps keep those trees in check – so as not get too tall or wide for cumbersome maintenance.
  • Pest control can be a benefit of summer pruning too. If you prune off fruit with damage from mites, moths, or tree aphids, be careful! You don’t want to contaminate your orchard. Dispose of these infested fruit and branches promptly, and never compost them.

Experts Say…

 

  • Stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines grow quite rapidly and should have 50% of their new growth removed after harvest.
  • Slow growing apricots and plums and need only 20% of their new growth pruned away.
  • However, depending on the species and size of the tree, we always suggest you contact your arborist for his/her advice on how much to trim off your fruit tree in summer months.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful on how to prune fruit trees during summer. Please visit our other informational blogs on fruit trees for more helpful information to ensure a bountiful harvest!

Honeydew and You – How to Treat Tree Aphids

Is there a tree dripping sap on your property – possibly staining sidewalks or other areas with sticky residue? Unfortunately, that is generally a sign of tree aphids. There are thousands of types of aphids who live in relatively temperate climates worldwide. They can cause severe stress to trees and other plants (roses are a prime target on the West Coast) and sometimes introduce fungal diseases.

 

What exactly are Tree Aphids?Honey Dew and You - How to Treat Tree Aphids by Arbortek Trees

Aphids are fairly small (smaller than most ants), somewhat pear-shaped, and come in a variety of colors. They are most commonly green, but some species are white, brown, black, and many other colors. Aphids feed on tree or other plant sap by, essentially, sucking it out with their straw-like mouths. They often bunch up in clusters, feeding together on the underside of leaves, around stem joints, or on new shoots and flower buds.

 

Aphid Tree Damage

Infestations of aphids pose a number of risks to trees and other plants. To start, their feeding weakens the tree, draining the sap the tree needs to remain vital and healthy. In plants affected by aphids, you may observe slowed growth rates, spotted or yellowed leaves, curled leaves, browning, wilting, lower yields of fruit or flowers and potentially the death of the plant.

Aphids also spread plant-based diseases. Weakened trees become more likely to succumb to the infections they spread. Fungal infections are common, as well as plant viruses. These diseases are usually much more harmful than the aphids themselves, the viruses in particular. Because of these risks, it is important to actively control aphid populations.

 

What is Honeydew?

As aphids feed on a plant’s sap, they secrete a sugary fluid called honeydew from their abdomen. When an aphid population grows large enough, the honeydew begins dripping down from the tree (and potentially making a mess of your sidewalk).

The honeydew that aphids produce is collected by certain birds, wasps, stingless bees, and honey bees. Honey bees process the honeydew into a darker, stronger honey which is highly sought after in Europe and Asia due to its purported medicinal value.

 

Biological Aphid Control

Other insects also harvest the honeydew. Some types of ants actually protect aphids from their natural predators because the ants essentially “farm” the aphids for the honeydew they produce. Deploying ant traps to reduce tree ant populations may help reduce aphid populations once their defenders are gone. Ladybird beetles (ladybugs) and their larvae feed on aphids, so encouraging the beetles can help balance out the aphids.

 

Chemical Aphid Control

Prevention, especially the biological variety, is best done in late winter or early spring. However, if you missed that window, treatment can still be effectively applied.

A number of pesticides, including surface sprays as well as systemic pesticides (chemicals that are absorbed into the system of a plant) may be used to treat aphid infestations. The systemic pesticides circulate through the plant, reaching the aphids as they feed and leaving other beneficial fauna undisturbed. Sprays like neem oil or insecticidal soap may also be effective, but they have to coat the tree thoroughly to insure that they actually make contact with the aphids and may impact beneficial residents.

If it’s too late and your biological measures were missed (or didn’t work effectively) Arbortek Trees regularly provides safe and effective pesticide treatments for trees and garden plants. Contact us for an assessment today.

What Should I Do With All This Grapefruit?

SUnconvetional Uses for Grapefruito you’ve got a grapefruit tree (or more?) just bursting with fruit and you’re starting to wonder what exactly you’re going to do with it all. Well don’t worry, because Arbotek has got some great ideas you can use to make sure that none of that delicious fruit goes to waste.

The simplest way to get rid of grapefruit is, of course, to eat it. But, it turns out there are plenty of other ways to generously and enjoyably dispose of your harvest even if you’re getting tired of cutting grapefruits in half and eating them for breakfast.

It is quite possible to turn the basic grapefruit into a fancy dessert, delicious side, or fabulous garnish – adding that tangy citrus flavor to all kinds of dishes. For example, you might try:

 

Broiled or brûléed grapefruit – This recipe for honey-broiled grapefruit with yogurt, coconut & walnuts looks, and sounds, absolutely amazing. If your mother may not have ever let you put sugar on your grapefruit growing up, this is your revenge.

Salsa or guacamole – Based on the shear number of recipes for guacamoles and salsas that include grapefruit, it seems to pair well with the spiciness of salsa and the savory heat of guacamole.

Speaking of grapefruit salsas – many of those recipes work great with fish (salmon or mahi mahi are common choices). You can also use grapefruit juice as the base for some pretty stellar marinades.

If drinking is more your style, grapefruit is fantastic for cocktails.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile and make your own simple syrup, this recipe for a rosemary greyhound sounds absolutely amazing. There’s also the Paloma, Salty Dog, and Sea Breeze cocktails to get you started.

If alcohol isn’t your thing, or you’re just looking for a refreshing beverage without the buzz, try this recipe for grapefruit soda.

Of course, you don’t always have to be the one consuming all your grapefruit. A bag full of fruit can also make a nice gift for your citrus-craving neighbors, family, and friends. If you’d like to step your gift-giving game up to the next level, you might consider trying this recipe for grapefruit marmalade.

Donations to a local food bank may be another option if you want to spread the grapefruit love out into your community. Just make sure to double-check their policy on fresh food donations, not every center is equipped to accept perishable items.

It may also be possible to sell a bit of your bumper crop. Local farmers markets might accept some for sale. If you have kids, harvesting and then selling (lemonade stand-style) your fruit makes for a great weekend chore and a good educational experience.

Finally, you can also put grapefruit to work in your garden. It turns out that slugs like grapefruit about as much as people do, and you can use the peels as bait to lure the pests away from your garden.

Here in California we’re lucky to have a climate that supports citrus trees like grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines. Still, it can be difficult to appreciate them quite so much when all the fruit seems to arrive at once. Hopefully these ideas will help you to really enjoy the bounty of your own backyard.