• Potatoes are available now for spring planting. Choose from red, white, yellow and blue varieties as well as the popular fingerlings.
• Spray for peach leaf curl with copper spray. Peach and nectarine trees may suffer from this fungus disease without a protective spray.
• Roses should be pruned now. After pruning, remove all old leaves on and around the bushes and spray plants with Neem oil to prevent early pest and disease problems.
• Asparagus will provide you with delicious, low-priced spears for years to come if you plant them now from dormant crowns.
• Give someone you love a pretty red Cyclamen today.
Wet spring weather is prime time for diseases of all kinds, which can make leaves unsightly and even damage flowers. But it is especially hard on fruit trees causing diseases that last into the summer and damage the fruit as well as the foliage.
Spraying is typically done through the springtime to inhibit disease spores, but an even more successful way is to plant disease-resistant varieties. This is particularly beneficial for apples, which are prone to scab and cedar-apple rust; pears, which are prone to fireblight; peaches, which are prone to peach leaf curl; and apricots, which are prone to brown rot.
One of the best apple varieties for disease resistance is ‘Liberty’. This dark red apple has yellowish flesh that is crisp, juicy and fine flavored. It is primarily a dessert apple and it makes a fine pinkish applesauce. It is not susceptible to scab and very resistant to other apple diseases.
Other apples that are resistant to scab are ‘Golden Russet’, with crisp, aromatic, creamy yellow flesh and excellent sweet flavor; and ‘York Imperial’, a crisp, juicy apple with semi-sweet flavor that is a good keeper. ‘Empire’, a sweet and juicy red apple, and ‘Spartan’, with pure white, crisp, juicy flesh, are resistant to both fireblight and scab. ‘Stayman Winesap’, a late red apple with a lively flavor, is resistant to fireblight. ‘Honeycrisp’, a sweet, crisp apple, has some resistance to scab.
Some years, when the weather is just right, we can have a bad problem with fireblight on pears. It is a good idea to plant at least one resistant variety. Look for ‘Harrow Delight‘, with fruit similar to ‘Bartlett’, and ‘Warren’, whose smooth flesh is juicy and buttery with superb flavor. ‘Magness’, with soft, juicy, sweet flesh, and ‘Moonglow’, a large fruit for fresh use or canning, are also fireblight resistant.
Asian pears, which have round, juicy, crisp-like-an-apple fruit, can also be attacked by fireblight. ‘20th Century’, with sweet, mild-flavored fruit, and ‘Shinko’, with sweet, flavorful fruit, are both resistant to fireblight.
Peach trees can be severely damaged by peach leaf curl. ‘Frost’ peach is a delicious, medium-sized yellow freestone that is very resistant. So is ‘Q-1-8’, a semi-freestone white peach that is sweet and juicy with a sprightly flavor, and ‘Indian Free’, a white peach with red streaks through the fruit. It is tart until fully ripe when it develops a rich, distinctive flavor.
Apricots can have trouble with brown rot, which causes fruit to rot on the tree forming mummies. It is a problem when we have moderate temperatures and moist weather during bloom. ‘Harcot’, which has medium to large fruit with a sweet, rich flavor, is resistant to this disease.
Your orchard will be easier to maintain if you choose disease-resistant varieties whenever you can.