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Winter is an important time to care for fruit trees; while the branches are bare and trees are dormant it’s your best opportunity to tackle lurking diseases and insect pests over-wintering in the bark and crevices of your trees.
A winter application of Yates Lime Sulfur will control stone fruit diseases like powdery mildew, black spot and rust, as well as overwintering mites and scale.
Lime Sulfur is primarily a preventative spray. Without pre-emptive spraying, pathogens and insects can get a foothold as soon as vulnerable new growth begins in spring. It’s much easier to prevent than cure! It’s especially important to take this step if you’ve had disease or pest problems in previous seasons. It’s best to tackle them before they affect new growth, or spread to other trees.
It’s quite stinky (sulfur smells a bit like rotten eggs) and can stain (spray carefully), but it’s worth putting up with the hassle for the protection Lime Sulfur offers. If you spray all the stems and trunk thoroughly before new foliage emerges, it helps give your trees a head-start in spring, so they can concentrate on producing a fantastic harvest.
Don’t spray Lime Sulfur on evergreen plants though, as it will cause defoliation and leaf burn. This is actually a benefit with roses: if you spray during late May or early June it’ll cause them to drop their foliage and force them into dormancy. This is especially beneficial in areas with mild winters, where roses may not naturally enter dormancy.
When spraying fungicides, remember good coverage is essential, as they usually work by coating the plant surfaces with a protective barrier against spores and bacteria.