For the last few years, our program for limiting the damage caused by apple maggot in our customer’s orchards and backyard fruit trees has been quite successful. Two well-timed sprays were enough to control most of the female flies before they could deposit their eggs under the skin of the fruit. But over the last two years or so, there seems to have been a shift. Warm, dryer weather, earlier in the year as well as extended summer weather, have created ideal conditions for apple maggot flies to proliferate and prosper! The longer growing seasons bringing more and larger fruit, thus more targets for infestation. Rainfall, (You know, that stuff we typically have in July) would normally put a damper on insect activity for a time, making populations more manageable. You may have noticed more fruit fly activity in and around your home for the same reasons. But just as our weather and seasons change and adjust, we at Wolbert’s must do the same. So it seems clear that we need to recommend an additional treatment, (total of three) for apple maggot control while we are in this current weather pattern.
As with other services we offer, we try to do the most good with the least amount of treatments in order to stay within a reasonable economic and environmental threshold. Apples and pears are not expensive at the store, and they are probably prettier than what comes off your backyard tree, but we want to facilitate those growers who take pride in maintaining their own trees and growing their own food. There are a lot of variables affecting the degree to which we are successful with our maggot treatments. Fruit variety (thickness of skin, season of ripeness…), prevailing weather conditions, sanitation efforts by the customer, proper pruning, and the potential for infestation from the neighbors untreated trees, for instance, all play a role in determining the degree of maggot activity.
Managing apple maggot is a cooperative effort between you, the homeowner, and us at Wolberts’. One of the most important steps in managing apple maggot is the removal of fruit as it falls to the ground at the end of the growing season. Ideally, fruit should be picked as it ripens and any that are infested should be disposed of. If infested fruit is left on the ground or on the tree, the maggots will exit the fruit, drop to the ground, pupate and overwinter in the soil only to reemerge in late spring as adult flies, starting the cycle all over again.
If you suspect that your fruit was attacked by apple maggot this year, feel free to give us a call to discuss scheduling treatments or adding treatments to your existing schedule.