We have a plum tree,a wild and sweet cherry tree,and recently purchased a pear tree.I do not want to spray the trees with any insecticide.Is there anything else I can do to help keep the fruit from getting all buggy?Appreciate any help you can recommend.
Keeping your fruit trees healthy will be your best measure against pests. Water trees in times of drought so that they don’t become stressed (deep watering is always better than a short sprinkle), and ensure there is no damage to trunk or branches. Prune out any dead or diseased wood (and destroy the latter). Prune tree to have an open crown to increase air circulation and make room for natural “pest controllers” such as birds – although birds can be a problem in themselves at cherry harvest time.
Removing and destroying any rotting, diseased or infested fruit or leaves from the ground around the tree is good plant hygiene, too. Keep the ground around the tree weed-free to remove potential pest hosts and reduce competition for nutrients.
For home gardeners, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has produced this handbook with information on pest management on fruit trees. This Online Gardener’s Handbook is a great reference, worth bookmarking.
Pears have relatively few pests, the main one in Ontario being the pear psylla insect (perhaps in Nova Scotia, too). It can be controlled partly through the sanitation methods cited above. The psylla lays its eggs in the tips of juicy new growth, so removing water sprouts in summer can reduce the roosting places for this pest in the tree. Dormant oil sprays applied before the buds break in early spring is the usual control for pear psylla – dormant oil never touches the flower or fruit.
Finally, keep an eye out for pear trellis rust, a fungal disease that can proliferate in wet seasons – see this reply to a previous questioner on our website.
Good luck with your fruit trees!