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Fruit baggers: lets talk about it

Scott F Smith
16 years ago

I am curious how bagging is going for everyone this year, and I wanted to relate how things have been going for me so far plus a few things I have learned. I am bagging for the first time this year.

I had very spotty attacks of OFM/CM before bagging -- some of the trees were decimated but most had almost no spots. No curc damage to speak of -- I still don't have many curculios in my orchard but the population is building up. This year I didn't spray anything before bagging, but next year I am probably going to hit the baby fruit with Surround to increase the percentage that stay undamaged before bagging.

I am using reusable cotton bags for the breathability aspect. One downside I have discovered with them is the bags weigh more than zip-loks and weigh a lot more when wet, and in a windy downpour I have been losing fruit. The apple and peach stems are generally strong enough to withstand the winds, but the plum stems are less strong and quite a few have dropped bag and all. I have also had some peach and apple bags drop, but only a small percentage. I am not sure what to do about the plums. They will have stronger stems if I wait and bag them when bigger, but by that point the damage could be severe. I may switch and try baggies on them. One other advantage of baggies over my cotton drawstring bags is the time to tie-on is probably faster with a baggie. And, the see-through aspect of the baggie I expect will be very handy come ripening time.

Some of the fruit that dropped in the bags I have found worms in. I am pretty sure these were because I did not look closely enough at the fruit before bagging it. On the later bagging I started to feel the fruitlet all around, this would detect any bite marks on the underside. Doing a visual inspection of all sides of the fruit is hard to do.

I have not yet decided how significant the time commitment is going to be. This year it was fine, but my orchard is producing less than 10% of the fruit it will be producing when the trees are mature, so I am not sure I will be able to keep bagging all the fruit. I may go for a mix of bagging and spraying. The fruit that has the most insect pressure I may just want to bag only. For example, the nectarines and pluots (I finally got some fruit set on my pluot this year, a whopping three fruit on the whole tree!)

One idea that has been kicking around in the back of my head is how I can get "zero tolerance" of OFM/CM/Curc reproduction. In other words, eliminate as many paths as I can in their reproductive cycle. I'm not sure if I can eliminate the OFM since they seem to be happy boring into shoots. But perhaps I should take the time to prune off and dispose of those damaged shoots -- they are easy to pick out in a crowd. Also, cleaning up and disposing all drops will help limit curc reproduction. I did a few experiments with the OFM/CM worms and so far all the worms in drops have ended up dead as their host dries out. However if the worm is mature enough I would guess it could make it out of the fruit in time. So it is not clear that I need to pick up drops to eliminate OFM/CM, but it may be very helpful for curc. I wonder how long it takes for the curc to get out of the fruit after it has dropped. If it takes only a couple hours, its a waste of time to pick up drops because the villian has already left. But if it takes several days then a daily pick-up would matter. In any event it seems like a weekly pickup would probably be a waste of time because the curcs have probably all left their hosts by then - ? All in all the picking up sounds like it may be too much of a time comitment. One other idea is to put some of that weed barrier cloth down under the trees. The worms could not burrow through that and would dry out on top. I recall reading about one guy who paved around his trees to beat the curc!


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