[NAFEX] Apple maggot trap tree
michael at herbsandapples.com
Fri Jan 4 11:38:21 EST 2008
Jim Fruth shared this a couple days back:
I know of a small apple orchard where something surprising is happening.
There is what looks like a Dolgo crab spaced about 20 ft. from the other
trees. The owner doesn't spray and his eating apples free of apple maggot
while the "Dolgo" fruits have several, to many, maggots in each. Then, when
the apples ripen, the birds chow down on the "Dolgo." Could this be a
for raising organic apples that is easier than bagging?
I have a couple comments / questions on what might be going on here.
Apple maggot fly is drawn to ripening fruit to both feed and lay eggs. In a
"normal" year, the female finds early varieties starting in July, then
progresses to mid-season varieties by early to mid August. Late varieties
often escape notice in this scenario as by then the waves of maturing AMF
have done their thing. Generally speaking, early varieties get hammered more
so than harder apples that ripen later in the season. The flies emerge from
the soil, where they pupated from the season before. Emergence can be
delayed by cool weather and extended dry spells, which is why there's no
such thing as a normal year.
We need to know a couple of things about the orchard that Jim describes:
1. Are the other varieties later ripening, thus increasing the
potential draw to the "Dolgo" that much more?
2. How distant are wild apples and wild hawthorn from this site? AMF
subspecies tend to favor one or the other, and it may be that this "Dolgo"
appeals to the hawthorn crowd, and apples would be left alone anyway.
3. I love the bird angle. It would seem that a feeding frenzy would be
required however, so that apples are pretty much cleaned up directly off the
tree and definitely within a week of dropping. AMF larvae get from fallen
fruit to the soil in 3 to 9 days time, and once there, the pest cycle is in
place for the next season.
I had a confusing year myself as regards AMF. I saw but one adult all season
long, and that was on Gala in early August. Signs of damage were for all
practical purposes non-existent. I had a couple monitoring traps out but
never put out more as there didn't seem to be a need to make more red balls
sticky. I did not make my "usual application" of Entrust (spinosad) in early
August as there was no sign at that time of second generation moths. Thus
nothing was being done that might hinder AMF. We had a good growing season,
with moderate dry spells interspersed with good rains, so while AMF could
have been delayed a few weeks in July, things should have been happening in
earnest by mid-August. I picked early varieties like Duchess and William's
Pride at the end of August and saw no AMF stings whatsoever (amazing!).
September came and I cleaned up the sprayer for the year, not having used it
since a nettle / horsetail / unadulterated neem oil application on July 10
(which I think not relevant to this season's AMF situation). But a curveball
was yet to come: The incredibly warm days of this past September allowed AMF
to keep at it but the fly limited its activity to feeding stings on one
tree, a loaded Jonafree. I saw no signs of any damage to the flesh of these
apples, which would have indicated eggs had been laid, but almost every
apple had 8 to 20 feeding stings. But again, only the Jonafree (I picked
this crop solely for cider and thus prevented any drop presence) and all
other varieties were clean.
Every site and every year can be so different that it can be nearly
impossible to come up with a "one size fits all" plan. Though we should keep
trying! Anybody else have AMF observations to share?
Lost Nation Orchard
Heartsong Farm Healing Herbs
859 Lost Nation Road
Groveton, NH 03582
<http://www.herbsandapples.com/orchard/research.php> Adapted illustration
by John Bunker, FEDCO Trees -- click for Holistic Orchard Research home page
Check out our fun
<http://www.herbsandapples.com/orchard/research.php> Research Pages
about holistic orcharding!
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