Monday, May 28, 2012

Apple Bagging Time

Chives are great food for native pollinators.
Plum curculio has attacked these apples.
I cut  both corners of the bag for drainage.
Once bagged I staple close to the stem.

I use a mini stapler to do the job - handy.
Some bagged fruit does not need stapling
The black fig tree has made good progress.
I use peat pots for my pole bean seedlings.

I usually soak the beans at least four hours or more.
Four beans per pot seems to work well.

I have looked back in 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and most of the apple bagging was done in June and sometime the second or third week.  But this year the Plum curculio is already at work attacking the fruit and so bagging needs to start now - in May.
I have looked at video and blog entries in the past and June 14th of 2009 and June 19, 2011 are blog entries that focus on the skill.
Apple bagging with plastic zipper bags of any type keep the normal apple pests at bay.  They can't get at the fruits and lay eggs.  I usually try to get the bags on before the Plum curculio attacks the fruits but this year we did not succeed and I will bag the fruit with eggs crescents as most of the time the apple will grow and crush the egg.  I will get a blemish on the skin of the apple but only a cosmetic effect and nothing that we cannot accept.  In the past I would spray to deter this pest but I have stopped doing that. 
I will prep the bags with a drainage cut in the bottom corners of the bag and pull the excess plastic off the top of the bag as I put them on the fruit or pull them all before I take the bags to the trees.  Normally I can bag 50 to 60 apples in an hour.  That time includes thinning fruit clusters to one apple for every six to eight inches on the branch.  A commercial orchard will thin fruits with chemicals.  My fruit thinning is with the snips before I bag an apple. Watch the video below for thinning, pulling excess plastic off bag ( it a quick move) and then bagging.  I have my snips and stapler on rubber bands so they are handy on my wrist and I usually have a bunch of bags in my pocket.
We have a nice fruit set even though I was concerned about bees again this year.  Native pollinators help so I have left as much blooming parsley, cabbage and radish family plants in the garden as long as possible.  Plus I let the chives bloom as long a possible as an early nectar source for growing bumble bees.  Even those seem to be in short supply this year.
I will be bagging on and off for the next week until the job is done and then the apple trees are no-care until the early fruits are ready in August.
We finally got some nice rain in the last two days, filling the rain barrels and softening the garden soil so that I can get planting.  I have moved the tomato and pepper plants outside into the cold frame.  One of the fig trees in out already and the new Chicago fig will get out soon.  I was waiting for new shoots to sprout on the stem.
I planted the pole beans this week per pictures.  Why in peat pots?  This makes planting out the pole beans much more efficient against their poles.  One or two pots per pole make for a good crop and then I can place the poles where I want and bring the bean seedlings to them and not try to make the beans grow after I have placed the poles.  I have three different types this year and I finally think I have recovered my old favorite variety after almost loosing it several years ago.
Happy Gardening

Apple Bagging Procedure


  1. Almost a year ago I saw your post on bagging apples and this year I decided to bag mine! I bagged them when I saw leafrollers on my trees, at which point the apples were between dime and nickel sized.

    Do you find that bags on the apple buds make them more susceptible to being blown off in high winds?

    My trees are young (in their 3rd year, about 7 ft tall), so they didn't have a ton of apples on them.

    My HoneyGold set about 10 apples, and all but one of the apple buds and bags has fallen off. My Haralson set about 15 apples, and at least 3 of the bags/buds have blown off.

    If it was the wind, then I'm guessing I should've waited till the apples were bigger so that the stems would've been stronger.

  2. Hi Michael,
    Timing is very important as you have found out. I try to bag before the plum curculios get to the fruit. This year that was early (like everything - by almost a full 10 days) and they got at the fruit as the post shows. Apples have a cluster of 5 flowers and the center or King flower usually blooms first with the others quick to follow. This is the apples way of attempting to ensure pollination. I bag a bit larger sized apples to ensure that I have a fruit that will grow to maturity - in apples that usually means a fruit that has at least three seeds developing internally. Apples normally drop part of the crop in June but poorly pollinated fruits will not mature and will drop also. Bagging then needs to be selective and one needs to try to get apples that are surely pollinated. A good rule might be to pick the largest fruit in the cluster ( sometimes the king) and bag that one. Also look at the developing apple stem - a thick stem will also help indicate that the fruit is well attached and growing towards maturing. That is why I bag bigger fruits (quarter sized).
    Wind and bags should not be a problem I have bagged in commercial orchards and my trees deal with wind and the bags stay put. Irregardless it's a experiment and your learning curve increases with time. Keep at it - I have bagged over 500 fruits so far this season and I still have one tree to finish.
    Happy Gardening