Do you have a dream of having a back garden full of apple trees, blooming with delicious fruit? Perhaps you have the fantasy of picking fresh apples from the tree and eating them on a summer's day or of making apple pie with your home grown apples and sharing it with your family. If you have enough space in your garden for an apple tree, this could be a reality for you, but not if apple scab attacks.
So what is apple scab and why is it a problem?
Apple scab is a common disease that attacks apple trees, pear trees, and some other trees with similar ornamental fruit. A fungus that goes by the name of Venturia inaequalis is carried via airborne spores and infects the tree. You will be able to detect the fungus on the apple fruit itself because as the name of the disease would suggest, the fungus looks like scabs on the apples. The fungus makes the skin of the fruit contract and this causes cracking, which leads to rotting – not so nice for your homemade apple pie.
Apple scab disease can also cause discolouration and darkening of the leaves on your tree, and it can cause those leaves to fall prematurely too. If your hope is to see a full and leafy apple tree in your garden in the spring and summer months, apple scab could put a stop to those fantasies.
Is there any way to prevent apple scab?
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can keep stop apple scab from attacking.
Pay attention to watering your tree. In the spring and summer months, it is all too easy to be liberal with the garden hose and really saturate your garden. But actually, over-watering your tree can be a real problem in terms of encouraging apple scab. Know exactly how much water your tree should be receiving (consult with your local nursery about this if necessary) and don't supply it with any more water than is necessary. This is important because it is the spring moisture that lifts apple scab from the fallen leaves into the air and then towards your tree.
Take care of fallen leaves. The apple scab fungus will survive the winter on fallen leaves from your tree. You might feel that there is no harm in letting those leaves decompose and feed the earth once again, and normally this is the case, but for the prevention of apple scab it is imperative that you remove or destroy those fallen leaves throughout the winter. When spring time approaches, there will then be no fungus that can be carried through the air and on to your tree.
Pruning. By pruning your tree, you can ensure that there is an adequate air flow through the leaves and enough sun penetration to ensure that leaves dry out and do not harbour the fungus in a moist environment. Because apple trees are often large, it is a good idea to lean on a professional tree services company that has a lot of experience in this field. They will have appropriate clothing, climbing equipment, and cutting equipment to ensure that the task is carried out safely and so that it prevents apple scab from taking hold.
Apply fungicides. A tree services company can also help you by applying appropriate fungicides at the beginning of the spring season to keep apple scab at bay. They will have access to fungicides that stick to the leaves even when it rains, and they will use fungicides that destroy the fungus but do not kill the fruit or render it inedible.