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growing apple trees June 02, 2009 8:18 AM

I just bought my first apple tree, a dwarf honeycrisp.  I've been researching necessary daylight, organic pesticides, and whatever else I can get my hands on before I put this tree in the ground.

My biggest question is 100% neem oil or 70% neem oil?  Two tablespoons of 70% neem oil per 1 gallon of water is supposed to make a spray that ward off all apple pests.  A local nursery supply carries 100% neem.  I can not find a dillution rate for that.  Any ideas?

Also, the spot where I'd like to plant the tree has 5 hours of direct sunlight and a few more hours of partial. Is that enough?

What do you fellow gardeners have to say?

 [ send green star]
 June 02, 2009 6:02 PM

Hi Michelle,

Nice one growing apple tree specially the Honey Crisp Apples that are so juicy & crunchy. They bloom mid-season.

The best spot for planting apple trees is an area with rich, well-drained soil and plenty of sun. Planting apple trees where they'll get early morning sun helps reduce incidence of powdery mildew disease, as does locating them in a spot with good air circulation. In some country, early spring is a fine time for planting apple trees in the North. In the South, fall is perhaps the best time for planting apple trees: the roots will already have been established when next spring rolls around, giving your home apple trees a head-start.

In preparation, remove weeds and grass to form a bare circle for each transplant, about 4' in diameter. Your initial challenge in home apple tree care after bringing the apple trees home from the nursery will be keeping their roots moist -- both before and after putting them in the ground. Soaking their roots in water for 30 minutes before planting apple trees is a good first step. If the roots look dried out, extend that soaking period to about 24 hours in order to revive them.

Planting Apple Trees

Begin digging a hole approximately twice the diameter of the root system, and about a foot deeper. When you think you have the depth of the hole approximately right, spread out the roots in the hole and check the level of the "bud union." The goal will be to have the bud union raised about 2" above ground level. The bud union is where the scion meets the rootstock as a result of grafting.

You don't want the bud union at too low a level -- for two reasons. First of all, that would invite crown rot. Secondly, you don't want the scion taking root and overriding the contribution of the rootstock.

Apply water as you fill the hole back in with soil, to remove air pockets. Add soil amendments (Definition: Soil amendments are elements added to the soil, such as compost, peat moss, or fertilizer, to improve its capacity to support plant life. While fertilizer improves soil by adding nutrients only, amendments such as peat moss improve soil by making its texture or drainage more conducive to plant health. Peat moss adds no nutrients to soil. Meanwhile, compost enhances soil both through adding nutrients and through improving texture and drainage.) at the same time. This is also the time to install a vole guard around the trunk of your home apple trees, letting it protrude about 10" above ground level. This keeps the voles or "meadow mice" away. Water well again after the transplant is complete. To help retain some of that moisture (and also keep the weeds and grass from growing back),mulch around the plant to a depth of 2"-3".

To combat scales, mites and aphids, spray a horticultural oil on apple trees just after full bloom is over, and thereafter spray every 10-14 days throughout the summer. For apple maggots, codling moths, green fruitworms and plum curculios, check with your local county extension office for the best pesticide to apply in your area. Some apple tree growers are experimenting with neem oil as an organic alternative for curculio control.

 [ send green star]
 June 02, 2009 6:08 PM

How Neem Oil Works:

According to the EPA, "Azadirachtin and Clarified Hydrophobic Extract of Neem Oil are derived from the natural oil found in seeds of the neem tree.... When the natural neem oil is removed from the seeds and treated with alcohol, virtually all of the azadirachtin and related substances separate from the oil itself. The remaining oil - without the azadirachtin - is called Clarified Hydrophobic Extract of Neem Oil. Azadirachtin acts in the following ways: It deters certain insects, such as locusts, from feeding and it interferes with the normal life cycle of insects, including feeding, molting, mating, and egg laying."

Neem Oil As Organic Insecticide:

Pests Killed or Repelled: Neem oil kills some pests (after they've eaten leaves sprayed with neem oil), while it repels others with its strong smell. Neem oil is used to control many pests, including whitefly, aphids, Japanese beetles, moth larvae, scale and spider mites. Because it kills mites -- which aren't insects but, instead, related to spiders and ticks -- neem oil is listed as a "miticide." Sprays containing clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil are also used as fungicides against rust, black spot, mildew, leaf spot, scab, anthracnose, blight and botrytis.

Neem Oil As Organic Insecticide:

How to Apply: According to the people who sell the neem oil product that I tested ("70% Neem Oil"), "Mix 70% Neem Oil at the rate of 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) per gallon of water. Thoroughly mix solution and spray all plant surfaces (including undersides of leaves) until completely wet."

Neem Oil As Organic Insecticide: When to Apply:

When applied as a preventative, neem oil should be applied on a 7 to 14 day schedule, say the manufacturers of 70% Neem Oil. To control a pest or disease already present, they recommend an application of neem oil on a 7 day schedule. Benefits of Neem Oil for Pest Control: Besides being an organic insecticide, using neem oil allows you to target pests, specifically, as opposed to beneficial insects (e.g., bees and lady bugs). By definition, "pests" are the insects eating your plants, and neem oil, properly applied, kills an insect only if it ingests the sprayed foliage (bees and lady bugs don't eat plant leaves).

Origin of the Name, "Neem Oil":

Neem oil and the tree from which it is derived are so called from the from Sanskrit, nimba. A Success Story Using Neem Oil -- And a Failure:

"One day in May this year, I noticed that th ninebark shrub I had just planted the prior fall was covered with aphids. I sprayed 70% Neem Oil on the foliage (following the mixing directions cited above) every 7 days for 3 weeks, after which period I found no more aphids on the plant."

"In July, however, I had less success using Neem oil to fight a pest invasion. Upon finding whitefly on my black hollyhocks, I began treating the plant with Neem oil. I can't honestly say that the organic herbicide was of much help in dealing with my whitefly problem."

 [ send green star]
 June 02, 2009 6:16 PM

Hope the research infos above would be able to assist u a little.

Good luck with your apple tree planting! 

 [ send green star]
 June 06, 2009 10:17 PM

Wah! Planting apple trees are so cool. I wish we could plant one in our tiny little place but it will probably get too big.  Still it is interesting to read of the way to plant an apple tree.

Do let us know when it fruits.

 [ send green star]
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