Hope of Spring: Bare Root Peach Trees

The sadness of the loss of one of my apple trees has been soothed a bit by the addition of 2 bare root semi-dwarf, self-fertile peach trees: Desert Gold and July (Kim) Elberta. I planted these earlier this afternoon. About 4 years ago, I removed 2 quince trees (which began life as pear trees) since the fruit was attacked by plum curculio beetles (https://janedata.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/quince-fruit-culprit-drilling-tiny-holes-identified/), rendering the fruit inedible and increasing the risk for brown rot. This same beetle has been known to attack peach trees also, but enough time has passed and I’d like to give these trees a chance and see if peaches might survive and thrive in my food garden.

In the end, it’s always a bit of a gamble to see which plants survive in a garden. The premise of “grow what you actually enjoy eating” still rings true for me and I see no point in growing thriving fruits and vegetables in my private food garden that I don’t actually enjoy eating. Among other reasons, I like knowing that I grow the food that eat. The distance from “farm to fork” is shorter!

Pear Trees Removed Because of Beetle Damage

Sadly, I had my pear trees removed this morning. I made the decision to remove the pear trees because the snout beetle, also known as plum curculio, had been drilling holes into and destroying all of my fruit. The damage worsened over the past few weeks, making it untenable to keep these 4-1/2 year-old trees. The greater presence of the beetles increased the risk that they would damage my apple trees also, of which only one is currently in fruit.IMG_3080

It had been very instructive to have these 3-in-1 pear trees, if only for a few years. During that time, I learned about how dwarf varieties of pear trees are kept small in size because they are grafted onto quince rootstock. I also learned that sometimes, quince can overtake the tree and transform a pear tree into a quince tree. I learned more about brown rot and snout beetles than I ever thought I needed to know. I was able to enjoy a few pears and even one Asian pear that grew from these trees, so the loss has been bittersweet.

I have not yet decided what to do with these now-empty spaces. I have a gardening project that I am finishing up and will post with more information very shortly, so maybe this empty space can be added on to that project. Or I may end up planting two new fruit trees. That small space is a blank canvas so I will have to think what might best go here, in the context of the other types of elements in the yard and my budget. I hope to come up with a happy solution soon.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  The quince is related to apples and pears, whose seeds are highly toxic if ingested.  For this reason, do not ingest the seeds of these fruits.

More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

Quince Fruit: Culprit Drilling Tiny Holes Identified

Last year, I was quite saddened and frustrated at having lost almost every fruit of my quince trees to brown rot, a common fungus that attacks stone fruits. However, it did not occur to me that more than a fungus was at play here. Today, after pruning unwanted growth from my 3-in-1 pear trees (which now almost exclusively produces quince), I discovered the telltale signs of insect involvement. I found a brown, crescent-shaped scar on the outside of one of the immature fruit and several others with tiny pinholes drilled into them.IMG_3063

After doing an Internet search, I found that the culprit is the plum curculio (AKA Conotrachelus nenuphar). This tiny weevil or snout beetle drills holes into the fruit (also apples, nectarines, pears, peaches, and plums), lays eggs, which turn to larvae. The larvae burrow toward the center of the fruit and leave nasty dark brown trails as evidence of their feeding. When the larvae are ready to enter the world, they exit the rotten fruit through the same hole that their mother made. The tiny holes drilled into the fruit make the fruit more susceptible to diseases like brown rot.

At least in my garden, I now know that these two culprits are working as partners in destroying my fruit. Several of the immature fruits look intact but I will be checking on them weekly, if not more often. Knowing the vulnerabilities in my garden will help me to be a better gardener and maybe enjoy some quince this year. I loathe the thought of cutting down my two trees, especially since they are still quite young, but I may if their problems spread to my apple trees.

An excellent series of photos of these brown trails and drill holes can be found here: http://www.thekitchn.com/quince-report-good-news-and-ba-65559

More information on the plum curculio beetle can be found here:http://entoweb.okstate.edu/ddd/insects/plumcurculio.htm

How To: Treatment of plum curculio for the home gardener is to just remove fallen fruit but I just would rather not give the larvae a chance to hit ground and have a chance to reproduce so I cut the fruit off the tree when I spot beetle damage and throw it away in the covered green-waste bin several yards away from the trees. More information on treatment can be found here: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef202.asp

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  The quince is related to apples and pears, whose seeds are highly toxic if ingested.  For this reason, do not ingest the seeds of these fruits.

More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

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