The southern climate lends itself well to growing a host of fruit, including the famous Georgia peaches and abundant varieties of apples. However, the warm, humid climate and abundance of available food sources in the south also create the perfect environment for fruit-eating pests.
In order to sustainably grow fruit southern fruit tree growers had to develop methods of organic pest control for their fruit trees. Bagging the fruit while it’s still on the tree is one of the most effective and widely used methods forms of organic pest control for both home and commercial fruit tree growers that want to avoid using harmful pesticides.
Bagging fruit right after petals fall will protect the developing fruit from being destroyed by coddling moth, curculio beetles and any number of other hungry small pests. The downside to bagging fruit while it’s still on the tree is that the bags do not offer protection from larger fruit-eating predators, like squirrels or birds.
Fabric or plastic can be used to create protective bags, however each material presents its own unique challenges to use.
Bags made from white, row-cover type fabric will keep small pests away. the special row fabric will also allow moisture to drain away and air to circulate around the fruit. Anyone with basic sewing skills can create fabric bags for organic pest control. A basic square design with a drawstring top will work to bag and protect most homegrown fruits and will last for several years of usage.
Plastic zip-top type sandwich or storage bag will easily and effectively provide organic pest protection, but the southern summer heat can also cause the fruit to steam before it ripens.
To use this method of organic pest control, place a zip-top sandwich or storage bag over each fruit cluster and zip the top shut around the stem. Cut corners off the bottom of bags to allow moisture to drain out and air to enter. Keep in mind however, that plastic bags also provide the perfect environment for attracting apple-destroying curculio beetles. Curculio beetles lay their eggs in tiny, developing apples and can easily fit through the small drainage holes which must be cut in the corners of plastic bags.
Bagging the fruit, even with the challenges each type of material presents, is still the best organic, chemical-free method of pest control for fruit tree growers.