Spraying Mistake, and a question


5 year old buck +
As I've mentioned before, the fruit trees that I've planted are located on my good friend's land a 10-hour drive from my house. Obviously, most of the apple care gets done by him at my direction.

Well, he didn't spray often enough. Indeed, before yesterday, he only sprayed once this season.

I was able to visit the trees yesterday and found an infestation of tent caterpillars that had basically defoliated ~5 of the new trees (pictures below). I killed 50 +/- caterpillars by hand, sprayed thoroughly, and admonished my friend!

Question: Do you think that there is any chance these trees will survive or should I start planning their replacement?



Don't give up hope yet. You would be surprised how hardy and resilient apple trees can be. I had a spraying mistake last year where I had accidentally added an oil based product with my bonide. It ended up severely burning many of my trees but they all bounced back. Keep a close eye on them as the growing season in most places is just beginning. They might be stunted for a while and you likely wont have a maximum growth season BUT you can likely salvage these trees. If it gets hot and dry supplemental water will be more crucial than before, make sure you keep them hydrated. Ideally pray for cool season and plenty of moisture, in my opinion thats best for recovery vs hot and dry. Good luck and keep us posted, stay positive.
Hope is good.

We've had a wet Spring (6" of rain in April) and I've put together a watering system (i.e., water tote, electric bilge pump, hose, cigarette lighter adaptor with on/off switch, etc...I should document that sometime) so we/he will have a way to get water to the trees if we get a dry spell.

Thanks for the encouragement!
Things like this can be very frustrating and discouraging. I remember when i saw the damage I had done I was freaked and very upset. Thought all my hardwork was lost and down the drain but for me everything turned out just fine. I was just further behind in my growing potential for that season.
I'm betting that they will come back. Follow Ed's suggestions. I have a lot of young cherry trees on my land and the tent caterpillars seem to love them. I've been tearing down every nest that I can reach and have stocked up on Sevin dust. Let us know if they make it.

I think they will survive. The tree will put out new branches as the roots weren't compromised. Maybe snip off about an inch and see if a new growth doesn't come from that cut
Thanks guys. I'm using Imidan for insects. Would adding, or switching to, or alternating with Sevin work better against tent caterpillars?
Yes Sevin is great for tent caterpillars malathion also works great
lot2, what state are you in?
The land/trees are in Virginia, about 30-40 minutes south of Charlottesville.

By accident of marriage, I live in Massachusetts <grin>
Poor thing! ;) Where in Mass? I've gone to some demos and apple seminars w/ Umass Amherst. John Clements (runs their apple program) is one of the best around on training and pruning imo. Most all of the techniques I use come from him. Also a lot of the info I use to base my modeling for spraying comes from them. Great resource, take advantage of them!
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I live in Weston, just west of Boston.

I'll google a link to the UMass program; I could really use some training!!

I'm just a few hours drive from you.

Make sure you get your guy in Virginie to look for the tents in the early morning and destroy them. The caterpillars will be in them at that time of day. Look in hawthorn, cherry, ash, oak and apple for them. Over the winter and into spring look on branches of smaller trees for very small eggs about the size of a pencil tip in clusters about an inch long and wrapped around the branch and rub them off! Despite spraying my trees regularly I sometimes find the egg clusters. This will help cut down and keep numbers manageable. If numbers are reasonable, parasites, insects, birds and so forth will take care of them naturally. In bad cases though, ya, use malithion.

Your trees will grow new leaves this summer, if they were otherwise healthy trees, so I wouldn't worry to much.
Thanks for the advice Maya. We had a few tent caterpillars last year, but nothing like this year. I'll do some searching for the egg clusters when I'm there hunting in the Fall and I'll get some Sevin too.

Another fun, organic solution might be to put out a few birdhouses near each of the orchards.
Yes, good idea.....good luck! A lot of steps like this are easy and help you be proactive rather than reactive.
I try to get mine sprayed when i see the tents starting to form in the woods . I spray the ground around the fruit trees and the trunks. That usually keeps them at bay.
My buddy says he knows where some of the tents are located in trees adjacent to the orchard.

Is a strong shot of Sevin directly aimed at the tent sufficient to take care of the caterpillars?
Here's a quick update on my trees defoliated by tent caterpillars.

You guys were right! They bounced back nicely, and in just two weeks!