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Spraying And Preparing For Winter

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen : I understand from this question of "spraying and winter protection" to be applied more especially to a young orchard, and so I feel that there is not so very much to say. Perhaps that is why the topic was assigned to me.

I am glad, however, to have the opportunity of being here, and of saying a few words about spraying a young orchard, not only for the benefit of beginners, but for fruit growers, even those who claim to be progressive so far as spraying is concerned, but who often neglect the young orchards at spraying time, although they carefully spray their older orchards.

I do not believe that a fruit grower can afford to neglect spraying his young orchard. It certainly is not economy. I look at the proposition like this : The first few years in the life of an orchard we are growing trees. When the tree comes into bearing it does not depend upon the age of that tree as to the crop it produces, but more upon the fruit-bearing surface of that tree, and as far as the young orchard is concerned when it comes into bearing the production of the orchard does not depend upon the age or upon the number of trees, but upon the fruit bearing surface of that orchard. So everything should be done in the early life of the orchard to promote a strong, vigorous growth, so as to have as large a fruit-bearing surface as possible when the trees come into bearing. How common it is to see in this State our young cherry orchards defoliated by leaf spot and peaches. by leaf curl and even on some of our best fruit farms we often find excellent young orchards defoliated in the middle of the summer through neglect of spraying. It means that these trees were stunted and only made half a growth. If such a condition happens, precedes a hard winter then they are more subject to winter kill.

During the early years of an orchard it is not necessary to spray as frequently as it is a bearing orchard, because with a young orchard we are protecting the growth of the branches and foilage, whereas with the old orchard we are protecting the foliage and the fruit. Where one or two sprays may be necessary therefore in the new orchard, it may take four or five sprayings to meet the requirements in an old orchard. The whole aim of the grower is to promote a healthy growth of the trees. We may have a good site, good soil, practice good cultivation and fertilization—we may have all the conditions present for a strong and healthy growth,—we will then get a good tree provided it is not injured by some fungus or disease. I do not want to belittle the importance of cultivation—cultivation of a good strong, healthy tree is a preventive against disease. A healthy tree is not as susceptible to most diseases as a weak tree. At the same time, given all these conditions, there are many of the diseases that will strike a strong tree as well as a weak one, so we should insure our trees against these diseases and insects the same as we insure our barns and houses against loss by fire or other cause. The beginner is liable to look at this spraying proposition in the wrong way. We get letters at the college saying that in certain localities the trees are badly infested with leaf curl or leaf spot—"What shall we do?" He looks upon this spraying proposition as a cure instead of a preventative. We spray our orchards as a preventative not as a cure. We spray at the college for San Jose scale, to prevent it. We are not certain that the scale will be injurious if we don't spray. It is simply as an insurance against that trouble. And so it is right along the whole question of spraying—it is a preventative, rather than a cure.

I will not go into detail to tell you of the different sprays and when to apply them—all that information is given in our bulletins, but I will speak of some fundamental principles of successful spraying.

First, it is necessary, if we are going to prevent these troubles, to study the insects and diseases that infest the particular trees we are growing in our localities. Some localities may have no scale; in that case we would not advise you to spray for the scale. But, if there is scale around in your locality, even though you do not have it on your own place, it becomes necessary to spray for it as a preventative.

Study the particular insects and diseases that the particular trees you are growing are subject to, and then spray these trees to prevent these troubles.

One of the greatest troubles in spraying, for the beginner especially, is the fact that the spray is not put on at the right time. Success depends largely upon doing it just when it should be done. For example, in spraying for the codling moth, we must know that if we do not get the spray on before the calyx lobes close up, it is impossible to get the poison on in such a manner as to make it most effective. We spray therefore for this insect just as soon as possible after the petals fall.

On the farm you will find much general work to do just at spraying time. The beginner in fruit growing, because of these other pressing duties, is often inclined to put off spraying until a more convenient time ; but if he does this, he will never meet with the degree of success that he should.

How frequently we see a man spraying—who gets his spray on all right at the beginning and the fruit from these trees is all perfect, but, because of intervening rainy days or other causes, the time goes by, so that when the spraying is finally completed it proves ineffectual and the value of it is lost. In spraying you should learn the proper time for putting on the spray for the particular insect or fungus you wish to combat, and then let nothing deter you from getting it on the trees just at that time.

Many do not realize the importance of thoroughness. Everyone thinks he is doing a good job, but, frequently he does not really know what thorough work in spraying is. If a man knows the life history of the insect that he wishes to combat, it will help him much, and this is what he should study to know.

In many instances we see fruit where the surface facing the outside is free from disease, but that facing the center of tree is badly infested with scab. We must cover all the foliage and we must also cover all sides of the fruit, if we wish to save it from these pests.

Another frequent cause of failure in spraying is the fact that the wrong spray is often used. People write in and say that they have sprayed with Bordeaux and their apples are wormy. There is a reason for this which you can plainly see. Bordeaux mixture does not control insects.

We classify our fruit troubles into : Insects, fungus diseases, and bacteria diseases. Of the insects the chewing insects such as the common potato bug, the canker worm, the codling moth—are all easy to control; all we have to do is to make a thorough application of arsenical poison and the work is accomplished. But arsenical poison is of no use for sucking insects. The scale is a sucking insect; plant lice are sucking insects; and for that reason they are not controlled by these poisons. Contact sprays must be used to kill these insects. To control the San Jose scale for example we must spray while the tree is dormant, before it comes out in foliage, because that is the only time when we can get the spray on strong enough to kill the scale without killing the foliage. A fungicide is a low form of plant life—one plant living on another plant. These plants have different stages of development, just as other plants do. The spores or seeds of a fungus are carried in the air and lodge on the fruit or foliage and in time germinate, sending mycelium or rootlets into the tissue of the fruit or foliage. After the mycelium enters the leaf we can spray as much as we please and it will do not good. The only way to treat a fungus is to have the spray on the fruit or on the foliage before that little sport or seed germinates. So when the fruit grower writes to us and tells us that his cherry trees are dropping their foliage—"What can he do?" we must answer that he cannot do anything. He might spray and prevent the disease from spreading, but the damage is already done and the disease is working all through the tissue and it cannot be reached by any spray that can be put on. He should have begun thirty days before. So with all fungus diseases, we can control them, we can prevent them, but we can-not cure them after they get inside of the plant tissue. If you have the right conception of these things you will use the right spray at the right time. Our bulletins tell you all about this. You should know, therefore, as much as you can about the life history of these pests—,how it is the apple fungus grows? What part of the tree does it at-tack? And other questions of similar import.

In regard to making a mixture it is well to know a good mixture from a bad one. It is not difficult to use lime and sulphur that we have simply to dilute in water, but when you come to make a Bordeaux mixture and some of those other sprays, it is not so easy. Bordeaux mixture is not simply the taking of lime and copper sulphate and slap-ping them together; they should be put together in such a way that they make as fine a mechanical mixture as possible. Get the bulletins on spraying and study the proper method of making these sprays.

In regard to the winter protection of trees I have little to say. If you have grown your trees properly during the summer, that is, in such a way that you have obtained a strong, well ripened growth, you have done much to prepare your trees for the winter. That is the most important of all methods of preparing the tree for winter.

Another thing we should do is to protect the tree from its outside enemies. It is a very common thing to see a young orchard planted and go into winter quarters in excellent shape, only to be girdled by mice and stripped by rabbits during the winter. The young trees with green succulent bark seem to have a special attraction for rabbits and mice. If the orchard is well cultivated and happens to be near brush land you will be troubled more or less with rabbits. To insure your trees against this trouble it is advisable to protect them with some kind of tree guard. We have on exhibition at the apple show several devices for this purpose; one is common tar paper, easily obtained, cheap and very effective. Cut the tar paper in strips as long as you wish, wrap them around the trunk and tie together. Again we have wooden veneer strips which are slats of wood made for the purpose which may be soaked in water so that they can be bound around the tree and fastened. Some use coarse screen wire, of about one-half inch mesh for this purpose and it has been found an excellent prevention of mice and rabbits. Some-times the trees are banked up with soil and this prevents injury from mice.

Perhaps this is enough to be said of this topic, but if there are any questions you would like to ask, I will be glad to answer them as far as possible.


Chairman—It is now past our time for opening and so we will come to order, but before proceeding with the regular program, we will give a few moments to something not on our regular program. We have here with us, Miss Lucy Page Gaston, Supt. and Founder of the Anti-Cigarette League of America, with headquarters at Chicago. She wishes to say a few words in reference to her work, and particularly the bill now before the Michigan Legislature, which she is trying to have put through.

Miss Gaston—Last night at the Land Show I engaged the pen with which the Governor of our State will sign the Anti-Cigarette Bill, which will put the cigarette out of commission in Michigan. Perhaps this is faith, but I believe it is going to be done this present session of the legislature and I feel that this fine body of Horticulturists of Michigan will contribute largely to the success of that effort. I really know of no greater good fortune that can come to this effort to protect the youth of this great State of Michigan, than to have the earnest, hearty and clean-lived men and women who are connected with this organization in line to help promote it.

Michigan has long been the battlefield in this fight against the cigarette. The Cigarette-Jack from Detroit appears at Lansing and undoes the good work that the good people of the State want done, and the bill that was passed by the legislature was one that suited the Tobacco Trust but did. not suit the Anti-Cigarette League. Judge Higby, the Ben Linsay of Michigan, right here in Grand Rapids, Judge of the Juvenile court, has taken the Chairmanship for this State and is leading the fight, and we want you people to line up and do what you can for the bill.

You people are troubled with pests. When a pest appears, you undertake the work of extermination. What is needed in Michigan is a war of extermination on the cigarette. Eleven states have passed absolutely prohibitory laws making an out-law of the cigarette, and cigarette papers, and that is what we want you to do here.

Imagine Ann Arbor without cigarettes ! These cigarette-soaked aver-age brains that you are trying to educate in our state institutions of higher learning are not worth the powder to blow them up in a good many cases. It seems to me that all substantial men and women should give this effort their most hearty support, and I will leave you now with the full assurance in my own mind that we can rely on you to do all you can for the good cause.

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