Gardening with Allen: spraying necessary against apple worm

Last year my apple tree produced a lot of little wormy apples. What should I do to get bigger apples without worms?

If you want apples without wormholes, regular spraying every two weeks is necessary. You can use one of the combination fruit tree pesticides or, if you want an organic approach, use Spinosad. You can find Spinosad at full-service garden centers or online.

If you don’t have many untreated apple trees nearby, you can probably protect most apples from worms by hanging codling moth traps in the trees. It takes about three traps for an average sized apple tree. Codling moth traps contain a sex attractant that traps male moths. Without fertilization, the eggs of the female butterfly are sterile.

This is also a good time to thin apples to increase fruit size and quality. By watching carefully as you thin, you can often eliminate apples that have already been wormed. The holes are very apparent while the fruits are small.

Apples have clusters of five flowers in a group. If all five flowers are well pollinated, they can all grow to maturity. More generally, three or four will continue to grow while one or two will remain small and fall off. The tree can only produce enough food to grow one large apple per cluster. If two are allowed to develop, most fruits will be medium in size. When three or more ripen they are usually all small, unless there are no other clusters of fruit nearby within 6 inches.

In thinning, I generally leave only one fruit per cluster and remove the others. If there is more than 6 inches to the next group, I leave two fruits. Leave the largest apple of the bunch, which is usually the center one. Of course, those with wormholes or other damage must be removed even if they are the largest so that a better quality fruit can develop.

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