Crazy Weather!! Spray Those Fruit Trees!

Amazing, 60° (F) on January 15th in the Missouri Ozarks. The flower buds are swelling due to the warm weather. It is definitely time to start spraying your fruit trees.


Neem Oil is the perfect choice to spray fruit trees. Neem oil is both a fungicide and an insecticide. 100% Neem Oil tends to solidify in its’ container. Place the container in a bucket with hot water to liquefy the oil to use in a sprayer. Two tablespoons per gallon is the usual rate to get the job done.


Neem oil is made from the seeds of the Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica). The oil mixed with water and dish soap is sprayed at temperatures below 80° (F). Neem oil has fungicidal and bacteriological properties to either prevent or control certain types of bacteria and fungus.

Neem oil is effective to control fire blight which is a major issue on apple and pear trees.

Neem oil offers good control against powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, scab, anthracnose,  rust, leaf spot, botrytis, tip blight and alternaria. These are a sample of fungal diseases which plague fruit and ornamental trees.

As an insecticide, Neem Oil is detrimental to aphids, mealybugs, scale, different types of beetles, true bugs and caterpillars by disrupting their growth patterns. Most of the above insects will not reach adulthood and therefore no offspring. The oil itself smothers some of the insects by cutting off their air supply and eliminating insect eggs.

While standing upwind, spray the fruit trees from ground level to the branch tips.

Make sure the entire tree is thoroughly covered to insure control and effectiveness.

In a week to 10 days the trees will be sprayed again, using wettable sulfur.

Continue the process in another 7 to 10 days using elemental copper.

Spraying between intervals with seaweed emulsion and compost tea will strengthen the trees by building up the trees immune systems and handling stress.

The benefit is clear by enjoying healthy fruitful trees!



My Volunteer Butternut Squash Is not Producing! Why??

I received this question from Julie of Charlotte, North Carolina and Diane from Georgia.

I had a vigorous volunteer butternut squash grow in my garden this year. I had only one beautiful fruit grow to full size. The plant is still growing but each subsequent baby fruit (there have been many) yellows and falls off. It is so disappointing. Any ideas?”

Not  pollinated-001         Hand Pollination

There are many factors that may have caused this issue.

  • Lack of pollination or lack of pollinators.
    • The above picture provides a solution when there is a lack of pollinators. Hand pollination is a viable alternative to achieve proper fruiting.
      • Using a Q-tip or a soft paintbrush, you may take pollen from the male flower and apply the pollen to the female flower. Early to mid morning is the best time to pollinate.
      • male blossom-001      Female bloom-001
  • Too much irrigation or flooding causing the roots to be damaged
  • Too little irrigation or drought causing stress and subsequent fruit drop.
  • Disease – bacteria, fungus or virus
  • Blossom end rot – calcium deficiency –
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Too hot resulting in fruit drop

A good strategy would be to plant your squash early (right after last frost) and again about a month later. One of the two (2) crops may produce because you may avoid excessive rain, drought, disease pressure, cold/heat or insect pressure.

Seaweed emulsion or kelp meal will pick up any nutrient deficiency and aid the plants with stress issues.

Squash vine-001

It is worth the effort to produce delicious squash!!