How to look after fruit trees in the month of October. 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. In October, trees are beginning to prepare for dormancy, and we can help by applying nutrients if necessary and protecting against pests with winter wash and grease bands. Fruit tree canker can be cut out. Read on to discover all our fruit growing tips for October.

Fruit tree management in October

  1. It is now getting close to picking time for late apple varieties such as Tydeman’s Late Orange, Winter Wonder, Suntan, Crawley Beauty, Court Pendu Plat, Winston, Newton Wonder, Jonagold, Laxton Superb, Lord Derby and Lanes Prince Albert. Watch a video on Tydemans Late Orange – a biennial bearing apple variety
  2. Finish picking the late maturing pear varieties.
  3. This is the right time to cut out any broken branches. Seal the wounds with “Heal and Seal”.
  4. If the top of the trees has extended beyond your reach, causing you problems during picking time, cut the top out now and seal the wound. It is best to do it now and not during the winter time.
  5.  If the tree carried a very heavy crop, rebuild the tree’s nutritional reserve by applying half a wheelbarrow of well-rotted straw-based farmyard manure, spread out underneath the tree’s canopy. Leave a clear ring around the trunk without any mulch to avoid mice damage during the winter time.
  6. If the growing season was cold and wet, particularly during blossom time in the early part of the season, fruit set may have been light, because it was too cold for the honey bees to come out of the hives. As a result, many fruit trees may have had a light crop due to the lack of pollination. If this is the case, most fruit trees will have put on too much shoot growth, which makes the tree canopy too dense. In such a situation, it is a good idea to prune your trees NOW and not during the winter. Open up the trees to make plenty of room for the light to get right into the middle of the trees. Light is the most important source of energy for trees. A well thinned-out tree canopy is the best way to produce a quality crop next season. Totally remove dead wood from underneath the canopy, and remove crossing branches. Seal all the larger wounds with “Heal and Seal” obtainable from your garden centre. Read more about fruit tree pruning.
  7. It is now too late to prune apricot, peach, nectarine, plum and cherry. Bacterial canker and the silver leaf fungus are looking for open wounds on any live woody tissue in order to start a new infection.

How to control pests and diseases on fruit trees in October

  1. Don’t forget to put grease bands on the trunks of the trees, if winter moth caterpillars have been a problem. Garden centres stock those items. Click to watch a video tutorial on how to apply grease bands.
  2. Tree hygiene at this time of the year is very important. Many spores of diseases are carried over by fallen leaves. Remove all dropped or rotten fruit under the trees. This helps avoid a build-up of the brown rot fungus. If scab or mildew did occur during the season, remove all leaves from the ground to remove the fungal spores from the area.
  3. It is still not too late to spray trees with winter wash to stop nasty fungi developing during the winter months. This applies particularly applies to plums, greengages and cherry trees while still in leaf.
  4. If your quince tree was affected by leaf blight, spray with winter wash.
  5. Remove all weeds and hiding places near the trunks of the trees to avoid mice damage to the bark of the trees.
  6. If the autumn is mild, you may begin to see toadstools of the Honey fungus amongst trees in the countryside. If your fruit tree has been affected by this fungus, consider removing the tree as there is no cure known to man.
  7. This is a good time to repair or replace tree guards, as rabbits are getting hungry and the bark of fruit trees is on their wish list.

Garden orchard welfare in October

  1. Now that the leaves are beginning to drop, this is a good time to carry out a detailed inspection of each fruit tree.
  2. Check that tree ties are not too tight. Adjust or renew.
  3. Take the tree guards off the trunk. Look for canker. Clean the trunk of any accumulated debris, such as moss and weed remains, grass cuttings etc. Cut out and treat any tree canker. If there is canker, cut it out with a sharp knife. Seal the wound with a sealing compounds such as Heal and Seal and Arbrex. Put the tree guard back on. Watch a video tutorial to how to cut out canker on fruit trees.
  4. Check the stake. If broken or rotted off at ground level, replace the stake before the winter gales cause damage to the root system of the tree.
  5. In an orchard, mow the grass once more between the rows.
  6. Check wire netting fences, repair holes and broken stakes, check gateways.

Fruits of your labours

  1. Always treat late storage apples with the respect they deserve. That means storing them in single layers, in the coolest room or in the cellar in the dark. The closer the fruit is kept to 4 degrees Celsius, the longer the shelf life. Look at the fruit once a fortnight and remove any rotten apples.
  2. Only the best and undamaged fruits will store well. Juice the remainder.
  3. You can also hang the fruit in slices on a piece of string, to dry them. In the UK this needs to be done in a warm and dark cupboard. The procedure was used in Holland during the Second World War, in order to have some fresh dried fruit during the cold winter months. Watch a video on how to prepare dried apple rings. Watch a video on how to make dried apple rings.

Read our fruit tree care tips for successive months:

Go back to the fruit tree care calendar.

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