When all the leaves have fallen off your fruit trees, it is time you to spray your fruit trees with a dormant, horticultural or neem oil spray.

Applying dormant oil is a method of controlling insects and their eggs that are hibernating on the branches or in the crevices of the bark on the truck in order to survive the winter. It can also control spores of many fungus pests.

Most insects will not survive cold winter temperatures unless they had developed a survival mechanism. The most common survival method is laying eggs that can survive the cold weather and hatch in spring when the temperature warms up.

Each generation of adult insects will lay eggs and if the weather permits the eggs will hatch and the next generation begins. Eggs that are laid late in fall will not hatch due to the colder temperatures and will over-winter. Other insects may over-winter as larva or pupae, basically hibernating in the cracks of the bark of trees or

in the soil.

Dormant oil is considered an organic pesticide that kills insects or insect eggs by suffocation. You may also find Horticultural oil, which is also organic, but it is much thinner or in oil terms lighter. Horticulture oil can work on insects if it is in direct contact with the insects. However, it can be quickly washed off the plant if it rains.

Once your fruit trees have lost all of their leaves it is time to spray your trees with dormant oil, dormant oils kill eggs, and adult insects that are hibernating in the cracks and crevices of the bark. Spraying dormant oil can really reduce the number of pests

in the spring.

Common insects that we are trying to control include aphids, scale, spider mites and codling moth. The dormant oil may need to be re-applied if we have a wet winter. Be sure to read the label and apply as directed.

If your fruit trees or roses had a problem with a fungal disease like mildew, rust, black spot, peach leaf curl or other fungal disease you can also spray your trees and roses with a fungicide or with a sulfur mixture. Killing the spores this winter will lower the outbreak next spring.

If you had a serious problem with fungal diseases on your roses be sure to remove any dead leaves or decaying rose hips or fruit from your roses. You may also want to remove any decorative bark or mulch around your roses, both can harbor spores of fungus. Hopefully this will reduce your insect problem

next year.

A very common problem with fruit trees in the Antelope Valley is a disease called sunscald or sunburn, which occurs in winter. The trees freeze at night, then the sun shines on the trunk, the sunlight is also reflected off the light-colored soil. This quick change in temperature can shatter the cells in the plant causing serious damage. Twig borers can attack these sunburn areas. Less sunburn — less chance of twig borers infesting your trees.

The best way to protect your fruit trees from sunburn is by painting the trunks. It is best to protect the truck of your fruit trees with a white, water based latex paint, diluted with water. Dilute one part paint with one part water. Paint the truck of the tree to about two feet above

the ground.

Painting the trees does not protect your plants from rabbits. The rabbits can eat the bark off of your fruit trees, especially apple trees. If they eat the bark off the truck of the tree, it can girdle the tree preventing the sugars in the plant from moving from the roots to the new leaves next spring, this can kill the tree. If you have a few trees making a 12-inch ring of chicken wire around the tree can prevent rabbits from reaching the trunk. If you have a backyard orchard I use four-inch flexible drainpipe. I cut the pipe as long as the tree needs, then I cut down one side allowing me to slide the pipe around the tree. This prevents sunburn and rabbits. When the tree outgrows the pipe, the rabbits should not bother the trees. They will bother everything else.

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