Fruit Gardening in Late Spring
There is still a risk of frost damage, but trees are now making more growth which will help to protect the flowers. Soil temperatures are also rising so that low-growing fruits are less likely to be frosted than earlier on.
Most fruits contain a high proportion of water and benefit from watering in dry spells. To avoid producing too much growth, water mainly after flowering during the fruit-swelling stage.
If fruit set appears good on tree fruits such as apple, pear, plum and cherry, apply 15-30g (½-1oz) per sq m/yd of sulphate of ammonia or nitro-chalk. This will help to swell the fruit and form fruit buds for next year. Do not feed if the trees are not fruiting — they will make too much leaf growth and extension shoots.
Continue to spray against apple and pear scab disease every 10-14 days, especially in a wet spring. Also spray apple trees against apple blossom weevil, caterpillars and aphids, especially if a winter-wash or bud-burst spray have been missed. At petal-fall stage, control apple sawfly with fenitrothion, HCH or pirimiphosmethyl, red spider mite and woolly aphids with malathion or dimethoate.
New raspberry canes should now be growing up strongly. Pull out unwanted shoots which are causing overcrowding in the row or growing in the space between rows. If fruit set appears good, apply a mulch to conserve moisture. Apply 30g (1oz) per sq m/yd of sulphate of ammonia, or nitro-chalk on acid soil.
Blackberries, loganberries and hybrid berries should be producing new shoots from the ground, which will bear next year’s crop. To check the spread of disease from old canes to the new, keep them apart as much as possible by training them along separate wires or in opposite directions. Feed these plants in the same way as raspberries, but increase the amount of nitrogenous fertilizer to 60g (2oz) per sq m/yd.
With black currants, if fruit set appears good, apply 30g (1oz) per sq m/yd of sulphate of ammonia or nitro-chalk. Apply carbendazim three weeks after the first spray against big bud mite.
Feed cordon gooseberries and bush red and white currants with up to 15g (1/2oz) per sq m/yd of dried blood. Feed bush gooseberries with up to 30g (1oz) per sq m/yd of sulphate of ammonia or nitro-chalk. Apply derris or pyrethrum to gooseberries just before the flowers open to control sawfly.
Control weeds among cane and bush fruits by hoeing carefully.
Apply benomyl to open strawberry flowers to protect the fruit against grey mould. Protect developing strawberry fruits by putting down chopped straw, black polythene matting or by using bituminized paper collars.