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Plant Diseases/Promoting Conditions For Good Fruit set In Apple Orchards

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Question
Hi Melissa
Apple Ochard in low height(India HImachal Pradesh Shimla) so everything bit early from bud break to fruit set to harvest a month early.

I wanted to ask you How can we ensure that there is a good fruit set considering the frost damage and high temprature damage.Also  I would be thankful if you highlight the nutrient program for good fruit set

Thanks
Harender

Answer
Dear Harender, Please forgive my extremely late response.  I actually have a cousin in Dehra Dun which is near you, and we have talked a lot about the bad weather this year.  If the frost comes at the wrong time and the flowers are already blooming, it can prevent the flowers from developing into fruit, and there is nothing that you can do about that.  You also have a problem due to the record high temperatures in India this year.  You are somewhat better off since you are near the mountains, but there may be some unavoidable problems with the apple harvest this year.  In addition, there are many things that you can do to help ensure the best apple crop each year.  
1.  During the dormant season, when apples and leaves have fallen, clean up the ground of leaves, do any necessary pruning, and spray the tree with dormant oil, perhaps every two weeks if you see any bugs or have had diseases.  This will kill overwintering eggs of aphids, mites, and control some diseases.
2.  When the tree starts showing green growing tips, spray the tree with sulfur (but not within three weeks of spraying with oil) for disease prevention; also spray with insecticidal soap or NEEM oil if aphids or mites are a problem.  (Neem is organic and the tree is native to India.)
3.  During the time from leaves to bloom, spray with sulfur (but not lime sulfur) for disease prevention; NEEM oil if you have aphids, mites or other bugs, Bacillus thuriengensis for pest caterpillars (don't mix this with the sulfur spray, apply those separately.)
4.  During first bloom, spray with sulfur and Bacillus if necessary, but don't use anything else to avoid any injury to bees.  Only spray with sulfur or Bacillus if you need to during this time.
5.  Petal fall is when the flowers are dropping off of the tree and are no longer being pollinated.  Now is when you can repeat the spray with sulfur and Bacillus again, and then spray with those 7-10 days later if needed or begin weekly kaolin clay spraying.  kaolin clay products can be sprayed on weekly to keep away apple maggots and other apple pests.
6.  When the fruit is set and begins developing, keep a close watch out for any signs of disease.  You will want to spray with sulfur spray or Bordeaux if you see any signs of disease on either the fruit or the leaves, every 10-14 days as fruits develop.  Stop spraying 30 days before expected harvest.
The best nutrient you can use for the apple trees is sheep manure, which should be pretty plentiful and inexpensive.  I have actually looked into the various nutrient content of cow, chicken, and sheep manure, and the sheep would be the best.  You may get a lot of weeds from uncomposted manure, but I don't think that should be a big problem.  I hope this information helps you, and I apologize again for my late answer.  Write back if you have more questions.  Good luck, Melissa

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Melissa Johnston

Expertise

Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.

Experience

35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Organizations
Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

Publications
none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Education/Credentials
Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of Allexperts.com and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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