By Bob Purvis
During my April 1991 trip to Alaska I visited Clair Yammers’ orchard in Fairbanks. Clair commented that he has been spraying his fruit trees with “Wilt-Pruf”, an antidesiccant used to prevent evergreens from drying out and that it seems to prevent winter-injury to some extent. This technique is one I also tried out on pie cherry trees while I was still living in Alaska.
The buds of many of the stone fruits especially pie cherries apricots and American hybrid plums, are small compared to those of apple or pear, and, as such, they seem more vulnerable to injury from drying winds than those of apple or pear. The best time to apply Wilt-Pruf would be after the leaves have fallen (or after you have stripped them off the tree), but while temperatures are above freezing. This suggests mid- to late-September in Fairbanks and mid- to late-October in Anchorage and other parts of southcentral Alaska.
Application of Wilt-Pruf to fruit trees seems to have no ill effects, but whether or not it is truly helpful has not been proven by scientific research. If you try using it consider spraying only one side of the tree and comparing how well the tree blossoms and leafs out on that side versus the unprotected side.
(Editor’s note: If you try this method of protecting your trees this winter, be sure and send me your results so we can publish them in the newsletter. Thanks!)