By The Old House Web


The home fruit grower with small plantings can raise insect and disease-free fruit by employing a few control measures. However, methods of control must be applied carefully, following all precautions. Pesticides kill insects and disease pathogens. Although those labeled for home fruit growers are among the safest to date, precautions must be taken to insure careful application.

Before applying any pesticide, carefully read the label and follow the directions. Try to avoid spilling pesticides on yourself or in the area where you are working. If by chance a pesticide does spill on a person, be sure to wash right away with water. Special care must be taken to avoid getting pesticide in the eyes, nose, or mouth. It is advisable to avoid smoking or eating when applying pesticides. The treating direction should be adjusted according to the wind direction. THE GROWER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PESTICIDE SPRAY DRIFT. Empty containers should be disposed of properly. Methods such as burning should be avoided. Holes should be punched in the containers; they should then be wrapped in paper and taken to a proper landfill. It is important to keep children and pets away from areas where pesticides are being mixed or applied.

Insecticides should be stored in tightly closed, well- labeled, original containers, preferably under lock and key. They should NEVER be put under the kitchen sink, in the pantry or in the medicine cabinet. They should be placed in a cool, dry place, and the place where they are stored should be marked with a "danger" or "poison" sign. It is advised to buy only enough for one season's use. Most pesticides gradually lose their effectiveness when exposed to moisture, air, light, and very high or low temperatures. Excess should be kept in an area away from children, pets, wildlife and away from such places like streams and lakes. In order to prevent corrosion, the tank should be suspended upside down with lid removed to permit drainage and drying.

There are many types of equipment useful for home application of pesticides. There are various sprayer types, designed for easier application in a variety of situations.

COMPRESSED AIR SPRAYERS are metal tanks which vary in size from one to three gallons. A built-in hand pump pumps air into the tank. The spray is then delivered through an attached hose with a hand shut-off valve and a nozzle tip.

KNAPSACK SPRAYERS are compressed air sprayers which vary in size from three to five gallons, and strap onto one's back. Also equipped with hand shut-off valves, these sprayers have a hand pump which must be pumped slowly but continuously. The pumping builds up pressure in the tank and forces the spray through a hoze and nozzle tip at an even, steady rate. These sprayers are best used for a few small fruit trees, vines, bushes, or strawberry plants, as they do not have the capacity to spray mature, standard-sized trees.

TROMBONE or SLIDE-TYPE SPRAYERS consist of two small- diameter tubes. One tube slides within the other, compressing the liquids, and forcing the pesticide solution through a small hole in the end of one tube. These sprayers can deliver the spray to the tops of most fruit trees and are suitable for plantings of a few trees, as well as small fruits.

WHEELBARROW SPRAYERS can be used on plantings of up to 10 trees, and are useful in the small home orchard.

GARDEN HOSE SPRAYERS, which attach to the end of a garden hose, are not recommended for fruit spraying because wettable powder pesticides often plug the nozzle. Also, the pesticides usually do not mix uniformly with the water. For larger plantings of fruit, or a number of large-sized trees, best results stem from the use of some type of power sprayer.

Other necessary equipment for home spraying include a container for measuring small quantities and a set of measuring spoons. These tools should be kept with the pesticides, as measuring accurately ensures the best control results and the least plant injury. When cleaning the equipment, be sure to flush the tank several times with clean water, forcing the water through the spray wand and nozzle until clear.

The key to successful pest control is thorough and proper coverage, done at the right time with the proper dosage and materials. Lack of attention to these points accounts for over 90% of the poor quality fruit produced.

REFERENCE: Richard L. Miller and Michael A. Ellis, Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Service

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