It is under the foliage of fruit trees that a number of parasites spend the winter, often in the larval state, just like the germs of diseases. In this way, they are perfectly sheltered from the harsh climatic conditions. In order for the fruit trees to continue to be productive and for the fruit to be harvested to be healthy and of excellent quality when the time comes, it is necessary to apply a winter treatment. Let’s take a look at the different solutions that can be used to treat fruit trees during the off-season and first see how to naturally eliminate moss and lichens.
Brush the bark of fruit trees
With a little elbow grease and a brush with semi-rigid bristles dipped in water to which 4 to 5 drops of washing powder containing soda crystals and sodium carbonate have been added, it is possible to eliminate the moss and lichens that pile up on the trunks of fruit trees. This winter treatment is especially to be reserved for fairly old trees. There is no point in being too insistent, the important thing is that the water and the detergent can penetrate under the bark. No need to rinse, the rains will take care of it. In the meantime, the solution will be able to dry.
We recommend opting for a brush with medium-hard plastic bristles or, if you no longer want to invest in plastic, you can choose a rice straw brush. On the other hand, metal is to be avoided because it causes injuries to the bark due to its extreme hardness.
Remember, if need be, that moss and lichens are organisms that are not specifically harmful to trees. They are epiphytic plants, which never penetrate the structures of a tree to draw there the resources necessary for their development. On the other hand, they constitute a environment conducive to the development of bacteria and parasitic insects which themselves represent a danger to the health of fruit trees. This is the reason why it is strongly recommended to remove mosses and lichens present on the trees in the orchard, whereas this is not at all necessary with regard to ornamental trees.
The use of a rice-bristle brush is an excellent alternative to antifungal products or even to pesticideswidely recognized for their toxicity to ecosystems and which are already the subject of extensive bans on use.
Copper treatments for fruit trees
Only non-toxic treatments are now authorized in private gardens and many collective spaces, which is a good thing. When we have to treat your fruit trees in winter, it is therefore necessary to carefully select the products among those which present the least possible danger. But you should know despite everything that any product can be harmful to ecosystems or even dangerous for plants when it is too concentrated or used on a plant that does not support one of its components.
There are different copper salts can be used in winter for fruit trees. We are talking about copper treatments. Copper is a heavy metal that can be used in the garden, but without excess because it is not biodegradable, in high doses it has a negative impact on microfauna. Note also that this natural product can be even more toxic to microorganisms if used on acid soil.
Copper is therefore a component found in different pesticides used in the garden. These copper treatments are as follows.
It is neither more nor less than copper sulphate neutralized with lime. It is a slow-release cupric treatment, which remains active for up to 21 days in the absence of rain. All gardeners are familiar with Bordeaux mixture which they use to fight against cryptogamic diseases, whether in the vegetable garden or the orchard and even on the vine. Depending on the plants, the possible dose of use is 5 to 20 g per liter of water for a Bordeaux mixture containing 20% metallic copper.
It is a salt widely used in the orchard as well as in the vegetable garden, with a moderately slow release. It’s a chemical compound greenish in color. This solid substance is a dual action fungicide : preventive and curative. It is also a bactericidal essential to avoid many diseases caused by bacteria. It is used to treat all types of plants. According to European regulations, copper oxychloride is authorized in Organic Farming. The dose of employment is 2.5 to 5 g per liter of water for copper oxychloride dosed at 50% copper metal.
This salt is obtained by treating copper sulphate with soda. It is especially useful for a shock action because his release is immediate. On the other hand, the action of this salt is of very short duration because it is quickly washed away by the rains.The dose can be 5 to 10 g per liter of water for copper hydroxide dosed at 50% copper metal.
These copper salts are authorized by the AB specifications. But all these copper treatments must be used only when necessary, and it is essential that the dosages recommended and clearly written on the packaging are always strictly respected. These dosages vary depending on the copper product but also on the plants to be treated. Note that they are all washable by the rains, more or less quickly. This is the reason why we can add to all these copper treatments a wetting with fixing power.
There is another copper salt, copper sulphate. It is strongly recommended not to use it on plants, even if it is very inexpensive to buy, because this salt obtained by treating copper metal with sulfuric acid is particularly corrosive.
All gardeners can therefore have these products on hand to treat fruit trees against a number of diseases and parasites, but also to act preventively.
Treat citrus fruits in winter against mealybugs
Citrus fruits are very susceptible to scale insects. These pests are difficult to dislodge. To obtain good results, spray the foliage of infested citrus fruits with a mixture consisting of:
- 100 cl of water,
- 1 teaspoon of rapeseed oil,
- 1 teaspoon of real liquid black soap,
- 1 teaspoon of alcohol at 90°.
Ce mealybug treatment is to be renewed every day for 3 days. But if you do not want to use any product, there is still the solution of buying larvae of Rodolia cardinala ladybug particularly effective as it is a large mealybug predator.