Pests and Diseases Related to Apricot Trees
Apricots are a fun, tasty fruit to grow. But they can have issues with pests and diseases. Below is just a few of the pests that can impact apricot trees, as well as other fruit trees.
Here is a brief description of some pests that affect apricot trees:
- Aphids – These are tiny pests that come in a variety of colours, such as black or green. They secrete a sticky substance called honeydew which encourages the growth of fungus and mold.
- Spider mites – These sucking pests feed on apricots. They spin webs and leave pale dots on the surface of leaves.
- Pincher bugs – Also known as earwigs, are bugs with menacing pinches on their bodies that infest and ruin apricot fruit. Earwigs can destroy the fruit and leaves of apricot trees.
- Beetles – Wood beetles are famous for infesting apricot trees. Some beetles damage only the wood of the branches and trunk, while others infect the fruit and leaves.
- Leaf borers – Of these, the pacific flatheaded borer and the shothole borer cause the most harm and damage to apricot fruit. They are brownish-black in color.
Here are some diseases that can badly damage and destroy apricot plants:
- Root rot – This fungus causes a fan-shaped white fungal growth between the bark and wood of the tree. It usually infects trees that have reached 5 years of age.
- Dieback – This is similar to canker on branches and the trunk. It starts with a pruning wound that is many years old, discolours the wood, wilts leaves, and kills branches.
- Rot blossom – This fungus kills young blossoms, twigs and leaves and excretes a gummy substance. It causes brown spores on flowers.
- Jacket rot – This fungus gives a brown discolouration to the fruit and increases during the wet season.
- Crown rot and root rot – These bacteria stunt the growth of the fruit.
- Powdery mildew – It leaves round and powdery white patches of fungus on leaves and fruits.
Sucking pests like aphids use their sharp mouthparts to inject into plant tissue and suck all the juices out. They harm the leaves, fruit and stems of the apricot tree. Aphids leave the fruit very hard and knotty. They feed on new shoots and make them grow twisted and curled. They secrete a sticky substance called honeydew. Honeydew encourages and supports the growth of black coloured fungus and sooty mould that prevents the plant from getting any sunlight.
Spider mites also cause great harm to apricots. They spin webs around the plant and leave pale dots on the surface of the apricot plant leaves. Pincher bugs chew the edges of leaves and make holes in them. They also leave holes and gashes in the fruit, making it completely inedible. Wood beetles inhibit the tree’s ability to absorb fluid upward, which prohibits further growth and weakens the tree. It damages the bark around the branches and trunk of the tree, and eventually kills the tree. This is called girdling.
Root rot infects an apricot tree after it has attained 5 years of age. It causes poor terminal growth in small leaves. It can even cause the whole tree to collapse. It kills trees in an orchard in a circular pattern. It causes a white fungus to grow between the bark and wood of the trunk.
Dieback leads to cankers on the branches and trunk in the form of a pruning wound. It leads to discoloured sapwood that spreads below and above the canker. And as the branch dies, the leaves wilt and fall off. Rot blossom kills young blossoms, leaves, and twigs. It causes branches and twigs to develop cankers. It also leaves brown masses of spores on flowers. Jacket and crown rot cause discolouration and fall of fruit.
To control aphids, the best option is to release its natural enemies such as ladybugs, ants and parasitic wasps. For the spider mite, the best natural predator is the predatory mite. Insecticidal and/or horticultural soap and paraffinic oil are also good options to naturally control pests of apricots like aphids and mites. To control chewing pests like caterpillars, natural enemies like parasitic wings and lacewings can be introduced.
For catching fruit flies, pheromone traps can be used. Exclusion netting may also be used. A homemade remedy for mites is 100gms of chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons of detergent in 500ml of water. Always dispose of dead flowers, blossoms, fruits, leaves, and twigs as soon as they are infected before the disease can spread. Pheromone traps can be used for moths as well. Pull out weak plants, use seaweed spray or fertilizer, and make sure to build healthy and organic soil. Keep rotating crops and keep the foliage as dry as possible.
To control brown rot blossom, applications of fungicide at least 2 to 3 times during the bloom season can help. Applications can be made every 2 weeks. For jacket rot, a fungicide treatment will help control spread and disease. For powdery mildew, a fungicide application should be applied during fruit and bloom development. For ripe fruit rot, a fungicide treatment can be used to protect and prevent infection. Application of a mixture of Bordeaux before rainfall is useful in protecting buds and twigs during winter.
The copper spray helps in protecting the bark of tree trunks and branches from developing canker and similar bark diseases. Rust can be prevented by spraying protective fungicides. Chemical sprays like Candor, Winblo, Bisco and Red Haven can be used to control bacterial spots.