Walking through the orchard last weekend, I noticed a few apples had dropped from a couple of trees. I picked the apples that looked reasonably good off the ground and then checked the trees for ripe fruit still hanging on limbs. I picked just some of the fruit that was ready because I wasn’t prepared that day to do a full picking. This did, however, give me a great opportunity to see how well the nylon socks worked to protect the fruit from pests and disease.
The above two apples grew on the same Chehalis apple tree.
After unbagging the apple protected by the nylon sock, it is clear the protected apple looks much better. The flesh of the unprotected apple is bumpy and covered in little dots.
After cutting open the apples, the difference was even more noticeable. The apple on the left looks perfect. The apple on the right has blotchy brown coloring on the interior. Now I need to do a bit of research to figure out what this is. I’m thinking some sort of fungal problem, but am not sure which one exactly. Any suggestions?
So, the good news is that the nylon covers help. Even though it is a pain to put the nylon socks on, it does seem worth the effort. I will change one thing about how I put the nylons on next year. This year I used small orthodontic rubber bands to secure the bags on the small apples. Unfortunately, these bands did not stand up to the weather and sun and completely broke off within a month or so. I’m going to have to find another solution for next year.
What a great story, Sandy! I moved here too late to put booties on the apples and many of them are scabby and gross. I plan tot remove these full size fruit trees and replace them with semi-dwarf so I can reach the apples easily to bag them! I love seeing tips like this work so well and your pictures are great!
I love how you have the control apples for comparison to the socked apples – very compelling results. I have two ultra dwarfed apples growing that I planted this year that are doing really well. I will not let them produce fruit next year, but the following year should be their first harvest year and I intend to use the booties on them for protection.
Sandy, as always your blog is a wealth of information! I have one lonely apple tree (apparently self -ertilizing) and it has never ever done anything; until this year! We got about six, horribly gross looking, monstrous things, but after I peeled them the flesh inside was fine. After a good pruning next season, some organic fertilizer, and some nylons, I hope to see results like yours! Do you think wooden clothespins would hold the nylons on? Or perhaps metal alligator clips (like ones used for barretts; smaller and not as cumbersom as clothespins)? You can buy those online as well and I would think that both would have the holding power to last a season. Plus the sun wouldn’t break down the metal or wood. Just a suggestion. Can’t wait to read more!
Nice to see how those booties work. I’ll try that next season with my fruit. Maybe staples would work for keeping the covers on???
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I tried paper Japanese Apple Baggies this year. I ordered a few hundred of them from Wilson Orchard Supply in Union Gap, Washington for my backyard espaliered apple trees. They performed beautifully, though I learned correct application is important. For those where I had closed the bag properly, the apples were the most beautiful I’d ever grown. For those where the opening was exposed to the weather, moisture got in and the fungus ruined about half the apple. But by far, I had the most beautiful crop of large apples this year that I’ve ever had.
I later learned they were laced with a couple of old-school fungicides: Captan and TPN. It makes sense, as the baggies are made of paper. However, I would love to find a solution that provides this level of protection in a completely organic way.
Rachel, I think wooden clothespins (the kind with the metal spring hinge) sound like a great idea. I might give that a try. I do need to find another solution because the rubber bands were pretty worthless.
What kind of socks am I looking for? Disposable knee-high and not the peds I’m assuming? I used paper lunch bags on a suggestion last year. I had to re-bag once or twice after our New England hurricane. Good results but bulky and awkward. And I lost a few apples while applying the staples.
FYI, I tried “footie” nylon socks that I obtained from a garden place on-line last year (2010) and had horrible, horrible results. The apples I did this was all became shriveled and covered with black spots. They were much worse than the few apples I had left uncovered. Very disappointing.
I had better results with plain plastic sandwich bags, cut in the corners to drain water, closed with twist ties. The first year I did this (2009, the year before the footies) they did great – mostly perfect apples. This year, the year _after_ the footie trial, the plastic bags were less successful – more bagged apples lost, and some turned out not so great. The only things I can think of that I did differently was I put the bags on earlier the second time (when they were around 1/2 -3/4 inch), and it was the year after the footies.
This was Minnesota, on a Honeycrisp tree, no sprays or chemicals. I think I may try Japanese bags this next year.
Footies can increase fungal problems – since they keep the apple moist SLIGHTLY longer than naked apples. So can other kinds of bags. Japanese paper bags too – which may be why some, I recently found out, are laced with fungicides.
I prefer nylon footies, at least in the Pacific Northwest, where contrary to popular belief, the summers are fairly dry. If you have rain regularly in summer, that could explain your Minnesota fungal problems.
I think Joshua is probably right. Different climates would result in different results. The footies I used were nylon and I did not have fungal problems even here is the NW.
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The brown trails in the unbagged apple are most likely apple maggot.