Last year, I was disappointed to learn that my gorgeous Puget Sound Apricot tree had a terrible case of blight. Early spring leaves looked like they had been pricked all over with tiny pin holes. Then the fruit began to develop with a thick scab. Still, the tree managed to put on some nice growth later in the season. I ate the fruit despite it’s awkward appearance, skinning the apricots and making them into a delicious tart.
Portland can often have late, wet springs which encourage this disease that thrives in damp conditions. My choices are simple: begin spraying the tree twice a year or remove the tree. It’s a gorgeous tree and the fruit is absolutely amazing, so I have chosen to spray the tree.
There are some organic spray options on the market, most notably a copper spray that was recommended to me from my local nursery. I was bracing myself for something expensive and time-consuming, but was surprised on both accounts. The product I used was only about $8 bucks, and you only use a few tablespoons at a time. The cheap-o sprayer I needed for applying the solution was $5 bucks – not bad at all.
To treat the apricot tree for blight, it needs to be sprayed in late fall/early winter (when it is dormant) and again in the early spring (right before flowering). You need a dry day to apply the spray, which came for me on a sunny afternoon around Christmas.
I have to admit – it was kind of fun. I miss being outside more at this time of year, and this was a welcomed reason to be in the garden. Juniper joined me in the baby wrap thing and was pretty fascinated with the process.
I put the recommended amount of solution in the sprayer, then attached the hose and turned it on. The hose mixes water with the solution, then pushes it out the sprayer onto the tree. I walked around the tree applying an even coat, making sure I got the highest branches as well as the low ones. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish. Jay wasn’t even done changing the bedding in the coops before I was all done – now that’s fast!
I am happy to make a commitment to see this beautiful tree continue to do well and provide us with amazing fruit, although it does feel weird to need to intervene twice a year to make that happen. However, I bet any “organic apricot” I buy at the market has been treated with a copper spray as well. I see it as the price you pay for wanting a productive and diverse home orchard. And at a cost of $13 bucks and 15 minutes of time twice a year, that doesn’t seem like too high a price for deliciously homegrown apricots this summer.