Royal Oak Farm Orchard How to Guides for Tree Care

Integrated Pest Management
Many homeowners enjoy raising their own fruit, but anyone who has attempted to grow fruit in their backyard knows that fruit crops are attacked by a wide variety of insect and disease pests and prone to environmental damage, especially in the Midwest.  For your Home Orchard, we recommend the use of an entirely new approach to managing pests called Biointensive Integrated Pest management (Bio-IPM) to minimize the insect and disease damage to your fruit. Biointensive IPM utilizes a systems approach to pest management based on an understanding of pest ecology and tree physiology.  It begins with steps to accurately diagnose the nature and source of pest problems, and then relies on a range of preventive tactics and biological controls to keep pest populations within acceptable limits.  The preventative tactics include a combination of ecological, biological, natural, and cultural controls to keep applications of chemical and organic controls to a minimum. The goal is only to spray as a last resort for the control of pest and disease.

Often there are enough beneficials (insects that prey upon other insects) to control the pest(s) in your orchard without spraying.  On other occasions you might use traps to catch pest species as they enter your orchard, or determine from the traps that there are too few of the pest to cause serious damage to your trees or fruit. But if you do have to control insect pests, there are many new all natural products on the market today that can be a 100% ecological solution.  One of those products is spinosad. Spinosad is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is a mixture of two abcterium called spinosyn A and spinosyn D. It is can be used to control a wide variety of insect pests. But  always, as a last resort, reduced- risk pesticides may need to be used if other tactics have not been adequately effective, and with care to minimize risks.

At Royal Oak Farm Orchard, we have our own IPM specialist to monitor a number of species of insects and mites in our orchard, including beneficial species (predators and parasites of pest species), as well as diseases. Each week of the growing season, we also consult with the Eco-Apple Project network of professional growers via weekly conference calls directed by a  professional entomologist.  A weather station in the orchard tracks temperature, rainfall, and humidity 24 hours a day, transmits this data to our weather computer and we then use this information to monitor pest biology and the progress and severity of various diseases that can attack our fruit.  When you pirchase fruit trees from our Nursery, you also get this saem expertise with your purchase.  Our IPM Specialist is at your disposal to help you assess your insect or disease problems

The benefits of implementing biointensive IPM include reduced chemical input costs, reduced environmental impacts, and more effective and sustainable pest management.  An ecology-based IPM has the potential of decreasing inputs of natural chemicals and synthetic chemicals - all of which are energy intensive and increasingly costly in terms of financial and environmental impact.  All these efforts make it possible for you to apply chemical controls only a few times each season when they are truly required. And we can recommend the use the most environmentally friendly materials available here in our Nursery Center.

At Royal Oak Farm we are proud of the quality of the fruit we grow, and equally proud that through our monitoring efforts and the use of Biointensive Integrated Pest Management procedures we need apply so few sprays to grow excellent products.  We are happy to pass this information on to you, the Home Orchard grower!

Resources for the Home Orchard Grower
In the northern regions of Illinois and in most apple growing regions east of the Mississippi, there are five main pests of apple trees.  Those five main pests are plum curculio, codling moth, apple maggot, fire blight and apple scab. To learn more about these pests and how to control them, we recommend our Integrated Pest Management Workshop where you will learn about the vsarious pests and how to control them.  If you are not able to make one of our Home Orchard Workshops, you may want to download the available pest fact sheets  and the "Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings" guide from Purdue University .  This publication provides homeowners with the information they need to produce an acceptable amount of quality fruit (apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries).


Downloads - Click on photo to download the pdf file
Meet the Enemy

Apple Tree Care Package

Pruning Central Leader and Open Center

"Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings"

Peach Tree Care Package

Tall Spindle Simplified Tree Pruning and Training


We have learned over the years and from various research studies that upright branches on apple trees have a tendency to be more vigorous, adding more vegetative growth, and less reproductive, not adding fruit. Branches bent to horizontal or sub-horizontal angles will slow down the vegetative growth rate which promotes flower bud initiation. This is commonly seen in branches with a large crop that droops at a downward angle.  In the mid-1980s growers in Belgium were promoting multi-row and Super Slender Spindle orchards by weighting down branches between June 22 (longest day of the year) and about mid-July using cement weighted hooks, weighted clothes pins, cotton string and rubber bands. We began using the blue or black UVI-resistant rubber bands with good success. The advantage of using bands is that over time, the bands disintegrate and avoid branch girdling. We now offer these rubberbands to the home orchard grower  UV treated rubberbands, used to pull down young limbs, will pull for 3-4 weeks and then break apart. No removal is necessary. Simply loop one end around the trunk below the limb you want to position, and slip the other end on the limb.
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Royal Oak Farm Orchard - 15908 Hebron Road - Harvard, IL 60033- -815.648.4141