If you want to grow healthy, pest-free fruit but are not quite up for the challenge of netting the whole tree, then consider using baggies to protect your precious fruit this year.
The barrier baggies are a perfect option for smaller trees. It takes a little bit of time to place them over individual fruitlets but it’s very easy to do. And they are just as effective as the netting!
Look at the difference between the apples that were bagged (left) vs. no baggies (right)! (Photo by Michael Kim)
Types of bags
Use lightly waxed food grade paper bags so they can hold up in the rain. Make sure the baggies are big enough (about 6" x 8") to be able to cover fully grown fruit.
You can find waxed paper bags locally at food service supply stores including Cash and Carry (sold in bulk, #19, SKU#80557). Here are some online options:
When to place baggies
They should be placed over individual fruitlets about 3 weeks after the petals fall, when the fruitlets are about the size of a dime.
How to place baggies
- "Thin" your fruitlets, leaving the biggest and damage-free fruit on the branches. Consider removing all non-protected fruit to cut down on the population of apple maggots. Remove excess fruitlets, especially lower, shaded ones, by twisting or snipping them off so each one is spaced 6 inches apart (allowing for growth).
- Slip the baggies over remaining fruitlets and secure to stem with a twist tie.
- Keep the baggies on until harvest or remove them one week before harvesting to deepen the fruit color if you like.