Spray Schedule


Fruit trees differ considerably in the amount of care required because the severity of insect and dis- ease attacks and the length of time from bloom to harvest vary among types of fruits and among varieties.

Generally speaking, the flowers and fruits must be protected from insects and diseases by sprays applied from blossom time until harvest. Other sprays may be required to protect the leaves, trunk, and branches.

The length of the spray schedule should be considered in the selection of fruits and varieties. Cherries, for example, have the shortest spray schedule. The spray schedule for ‘Redfree’ apples, which ripen in July and August, is two months shorter than the spray schedule for ‘Golden Delicious,’ ripening in September and October. A general rating of the length of spray schedules is given below. Spray schedules are given in University of Illinois Extension Pest Management for the Home Landscape.

Length of Spray Schedule


  • Cherries
  • Early Peaches, Apricots
  • Later Peaches, Summer Apples
  • Plums, Pears


  • Fall and Winter Apples

In areas free from apple maggots, an abbreviated schedule for pears may be used with some success. In Illinois, the apple maggot area runs from the Wisconsin border south to a line from Danville to Quincy.

Size of Planting


In addition to the amount of care required, other factors should be considered in choosing the size of the fruit planting. These are available space, fruit production per tree, pollination requirements, space required per tree, spraying equipment, time from planting until bearing, and average useful life of the tree.

Small to moderate plantings (two to six trees) are suggested for the beginner. More trees can be added later, if desired. More usable fruits will be harvested from a small, well-tended orchard than from a large, poorly tended planting.

Production, tree life, and start of bearing of various fruit trees


      Estimated production per tree at
Fruit Tree
Time from planting
to bearing
Useful life 3 Years 6 Years 10 Years
Apples: Dwarf 2 to 4 years 10 to 15 years 0 to 2 pecks 1 to 2 bushels 3 to 5 bushels
Apples: Semi-dwarf 3 to 4 years 15 to 20 years 0 to 2 pecks 1 to 3 bushels 4 to 10 bushels
Apples: Spur Type 3 to 4 years 15 to 20 years 0 to 2 pecks 1 to 3 bushels 4 to 10 bushels
Apples: Standard 4 to 6 years 15 to 20 years none 0 to 2 bushels 5 to 15 bushels
Apricot: Standard 3 to 5 years 15 to 20 years 0 to 1 peck 1 to 2 bushels 2 to 4 bushels
Nectarine: Standard 2 to 3 years 10 to 15 years 1 to 2 pecks 1 to 3 bushels 3 to 5 bushels
Peach: Dwarf 2 to 3 years 5 to 10 years 1 to 2 pecks 1 to 2 bushels 1 to 2 bushels
Peach: Standard 2 to 3 years 10 to 15 years 1 to 2 pecks 1 to 3 bushels 3 to 5 bushels
Pear: Dwarf 3 to 4 years 10 to 15 years 0 to 2 pecks 1 to 2 bushels 1 to 3 bushels
Plum: Standard 3 to 5 years 15 to 20 years 0 to 2 pecks 1 to 2 bushels 3 to 5 bushels
Sour Cherries: Meteor, North Star, Suda Hardy 2 to 3 years 10 to 15 years 0 to 1 peck 1 to 2 pecks 2 to 3 pecks
Sour Cherries: Standard 3 to 5 years 15 to 20 years 0 to 1 peck 1 to 4 pecks 8 to 12 pecks
Sweet Cherry: Standard 4 to 7 years 15 to 20 years none 0 to 3 pecks 8 to 16 pecks




The choice of location for fruit trees is necessarily limited on the average city or suburban lot. Sometimes, it’s simply a question of whether any location on the lot is satisfactory or can be made satisfactory with modification. The farm or small acreage frequently offers more latitude in choice of location, but air drainage is usually more critical in rural areas.



Fruit trees prefer an easily worked, deep, and well- drained soil with a sub-soil that permits deep rooting. Fruit trees dislike “wet feet” caused by wet soils with poor water drainage. Cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots are especially sensitive to wet soils. Drainage sometimes can be improved by diverting surface water away from the area or by installing drainage tile.

Soils with a hardpan or claypan layer in the sub- soil are not ideal for fruit trees. However, if surface drainage is adequate, fruit trees will grow when given special care. Trees planted above hardpans will be shallow rooted and will require watering during droughts.

Elevation and Air Drainage


Spring frosts and winter cold are both frequent hazards to fruit crops in Illinois. Cold air, being heavier than warm air, will flow to lower areas and warmer air will rise to higher areas when the wind is not blowing. Therefore, high elevations should be selected for fruit plantings, especially in rural areas. In urban areas, heat from chimneys, buildings, houses, and factories frequently keeps the temperature 3˚ to 6˚ F warmer than the temperature in surrounding rural areas.

Resistance to damage by cold temperatures varies among types of fruits. Also, varieties within a type of fruit frequently differ in their cold hardiness.

Rating of sensitivity to winter cold and spring frost damage

  • Most sensitive: Apricots, Sweet Cherries
  • Very sensitive: Peaches, Nectarines, Japanese-type Plums
  • Moderately sensitive: Pears, Sour Cherries, European-type Plums
  • Least sensitive: Apples

Midwinter temperatures of 0˚ F usually kill some fruit buds on peach and nectarine trees. All the fruit buds on these trees may be killed when the temperature drops to –10˚ F. Spring frosts of 30˚ F or below during or after bloom may kill some or all of the blossoms or young fruits on all types of fruit trees. The earlier in the spring the tree blooms, the more likely that frost damage will occur. Though individual varieties vary, the general order of bloom from earliest to latest is apricots, sweet cherries, peaches and nectarines, pears, sour cherries and plums, and apples.




Fruit trees do best in full sun. They can tolerate partial shade, but the quality of fruits produced will be lower.



In rural areas fruit trees need protection from spring and summer prevailing winds. In Illinois these winds are southwesterly, so windbreaks should be located on the south and west sides of the fruit planting. Protection from northern winds during the winter is not needed. Windbreaks protect an area on the down- wind side five times the height of the windbreak. Do not plant fruit trees closer than one windbreak height away from the windbreak.

In urban areas shade trees and buildings usually provide enough protection from the wind.