How to look after fruit trees in the month of July. Read our tips on the work to be performed on fruit trees in a garden or orchard in order to keep them in good health. July is a period of intense activity, and fruit trees need protection from various types of pests. Apples, plums and pears should be thinned to prevent branch breakage. The harvesting of some fruits will begin. Apples and pears should be summer pruned. Continue watering as necessary. Read on to discover all our fruit growing tips for July.
Fruit tree management in July
- Support heavily cropping branches of plums, apples and pears. However, overcropping will greatly reduce next year’s crop. To reduce the threat of the silver leaf fungus entering via broken branches of too heavy-cropping plum trees, drastically reduce the number of fruits now and space the fruits 6 inches apart, leaving the best sized fruits. Watch a video tutorial on thinning apples.
- Start removing the eating apples which are hidden underneath dense foliage. These apples usually lack flavour and tend to keep less well compared with the ones growing in full sunlight. If there are too many apples on the tree this year, the tree will be off next year.
- Space apples six inches apart, after the middle of July.
- Tie in the replacement shoots of peaches.
- Check tree ties. Too many trees are severely damaged due to ingrowing ties.
- If leaf quality is doubtful, apply foliar feed every 10 days, using Maxicrop, Miracle Grow or Tomorite.
- All fruits need a steady supply of moisture. Check the soil. If too dry, apply water at 10 day intervals.
- If apple and pear shoots are growing too strongly, remove the growing tips of the new growth. This is the time to carry out the first summer pruning on apples and pears if new shoots are shading too much of the tree and fruit. Shorten back the long extension shoots to 5 leaves and the shorter side shoots to three leaves. Watch a video tutorial about summer pruning on apples.
- Another summer pruning session is needed by late August. Read more about summer pruning on apples and summer pruning on pears.
- The same summer pruning technique can be carried out on damsons, greengages and plums. Read more about summer pruning plums.
- Summer pruning can also be performed on apricots and peaches, cutting out the shoots that are not required. If the current growth is very strong, then reduce the number of shoots. Having done that, cut back the remaining shoots to 5 leaves. Read more on summer pruning apricots.
How to control pests and diseases on fruit trees in July
- A new generation of aphids and caterpillars has appeared, mainly on apple trees. It is particularly the new tender shoot extensions they are after. On the smaller trees a lot can be achieved by cutting out the affected shoots with a pair of secateurs. Do not drop the cut-out shoots on the orchard floor, as the offenders might find their way back into the trees again.
- Another parasite to be dealt with is the Woolly Aphid. It lives on old wounds and in cracks anywhere in the stem of the tree. It protects itself with white woolly fluff. With a stiff brush and a powerful hose pipe you will be able to remove most of them. Repeat this method of control after 14 days.
- Mildew fungus can now also be found on many extension shoots. If the summer is particularly wet, in many gardens, scab and mildew can become a problem, if nothing is done about it. Just cut off all infected shoots and fruits and remove from the garden or orchard.
- Pests to keep under control at this stage are principally the plum moth and the codling moth. It is easy to do this biologically by using pheromone traps. Ideally these traps should have been in position since early June.
- Regarding pests active on the fruit crops at this time of year, there are various pests depending on the crop. Some can be very destructive such as gooseberry sawfly, apple sawfly and codling moth; a range of aphids such as black aphids on cherry, rosy apple aphids, woolly aphids, leaf curling midge and various other weevils. The overall strategy should be to stop these pests building up in excessive numbers. We mustn’t forget that what we call pests are food to other creatures living in the garden. So therefore total elimination should not be our goal. A balanced approach is the best long term objective.
- The other point of importance is to check the trees for developing stem and main branch cankers. These cankers need to be cut out now and painted with an anti fungal paint such as Heal and Seal.
- If you like to keep the trees free from pests and diseases, without the use of chemicals, you could consider using the organic-based products that were originally made by Aston Horticulture and are now part of the solufeed.co.uk range. These products need to be used throughout the growing season for full effect. Follow instructions on the packaging of these garlic based products. (solufeed.co.uk).
Soft fruit in July
- Red currants, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are now beginning to ripen. Late-picked gooseberries are sweeter than the ones picked in June.
- Tie in the newly-forming shoots of loganberries, blackberries and tayberries.
- At this time of the year, many fruit crops are ripening and will soon be ready to harvest. This is also the reason why many birds are showing increased interest in our gardens. If you have a fruit cage without holes in the netting, you are doing well. If you are not in such a privileged position, it is important to cover the ripening top fruit such as cherry and all the soft fruits with netting to stop the birds doing major damage to the fruit, just before picking is imminent. Scaring devices are far less satisfactory at this time of the year.
Garden orchard welfare in July
- You will see honey bee and bumble bees in action in your garden. It is very important for the health and welfare of bees to grow the right type of flowering plants for pollen and honey gathering. At this time of the year, Angelica and red clover are definite favourites. Bumble bees are always on the look out for disused mice tracks in the soil. That’s where they like to build their nest for the queen. While you may not have room for a wildflower meadow, you could plant a small bed with flowers that will help bees. Watch this video to find out more about wildflower meadows and the best flowers for bees.
- Check weeds around trees and bushes.