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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dormant Sprays or Dormant Oil?

Q. I have a peach tree that has been in the ground one year. I was supposed to spray it with dormant oil spray before leafing out. Is copper fungicide okay for spraying in the spring? Want to avoid bad pesticides because of birds, good bugs, etc. 

A. There is a confusion out there concerning dormant sprays and dormant oil. Dormant sprays can be a number of different types of sprays. The name “Dormant Spray” is a trade name and tells me nothing about its contents.
Dormant oils or horticultural oils help prevent insect pests in the coming growing season
If I have the trade name (Dormant Spray) and the manufacturer then I can look it up and I will know exactly what it contains. There is no hard and fast rule that you can apply when you are talking about dormant sprays.
However, dormant sprays are usually a traditional pesticide or combination of traditional pesticides that are sprayed during the winter or early spring. Sometimes they contain a fungicide that has copper in it and sometimes they contain an insecticide as well. They are not typically organic.
Dormant oils, on the other hand, are very specific. They vary a little bit among manufacturers but not like dormant sprays.

There is no reason for spraying a copper fungicide contained in the dormant spray if there are no problems to solve. However, dormant oils are very important to apply as a preventive measure for controlling some of the insects common on fruit trees.
There is no reason for spraying copper fungicide now unless you have a good reason for it. Be sure you have a SPECIFIC reason for doing this before you do it. On a one year old peach tree I doubt it unless you have disease pressure from Coryneum blight/shothole fungus. 
If we have extended periods of wet weather or rain you might consider it after the rain has finished. But otherwise I would not do it.

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