February Fruit Tree To Do List

apples summer

Fruit trees are peaking! I hope the grass and herbal ley are thigh high and you’re revelling in surround sound fruit – late plums, pears, apples and oh so peachy. A sight for sore eyes!

Brown Rot

The dwarf peaches “Kotare Honey” are fruiting their little hearts out, as always, but sadly – also exploding with brown rot. It’s a bit mean, the way brown rot shows up right before harvest, but its the way of it.

It actually starts back in spring – as most of our fungal friends do. You may find dried flowers as a result – nip them out! The spores hold out for humidity and then – boom – such a fast, efficient fungi, the fruits go from one rot spot to entirely covered in fuzz, in a matter of days.

Don’t take fungi personally. The environment is ripe for it, that’s all. There’s nothing to do now, but gather the rotten fruits – or better yet get your chooks beneath to clean them up.

Harvest Pears

Belle du Jumet pears
Belle du Jumet pear – sweet and crisp – yum!

Pears are the trickiest fruit to get right because they ripen from the inside out. The exceptions are, “Seckel” honey pear, nashi pears and summer ones like Belle du Jumet who ripen fully on the tree. The rest need to be picked just before fully ripe, and left at room temperature for about a week to finish off. If left on the tree they go mushy by the core and gritty. Its a bit of trial and error to work it out.

Check the harvest date on your calendar and go to your tree when time draws nigh. Start on the north, sunny side, and find a pear that looks the right colour and right size and lift it to the horizontal. If it comes away easily, its probably ready though a few, like Beurre Bosc, need a tug. Slice one open, and if the pips are brown you are good to harvest.

And if its a Seckel, nashi or summer pear you are harvesting, be sure to bite into to it for the final say so! Leave these ones on until perfectly ripe.

Note all the details on your harvest calendar to help you out next year – like date, colour, undercolour, how easily the fruit came away from the tree and how long they took to ripen once picked.

Other tasks

Feijoas are too cluttered the fruit needs thinning
Thin feijoas
  • Citrus, Persimmon and Feijoas are gearing up with fruit. Moisture test the soil beneath – if they dry out now, it’ll impact fruit quality.
  • Check young trees! So important they are looked after in their first summers. If soils are dry, give them a soak. Check them over for bugs, squashing any you find. Leave the grass/ weeds long around them for protection. A friendly jostle of plants is perfect, however if they’re being swamped, peel off the worst offenders.
  • Prune olives to increase light and reduce height. Work around fruit that has set.
  • Summer prune stonefruit. They’re best pruned now, rather than winter as silverleaf spores aren’t on the wing and best of all pruning now, slows next seasons growth down.


  1. Help! My apple tree got hit with Coddling Moth, despite all my precautions. Know there is not much I can do about that but was was not infected is dropping off the tree at a rate of knots. I had set up my version of ollo pots and kept them topped up. Maybe that was not enough water. I had the same problem last year but not to the same extent. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi

    All is not lost with the Kotare Honey peaches. Ours also have brown rot. However, even if they are not fully ripe, they can be picked, the good fruit chopped up and poached. I poach my mine in white wine. then puree them.
    Peach puree on ice cream or yoghurt – yum!

  3. Sarah Peachey says

    Hi Kath, we have a Beurre Bosc that we planted in early spring & the leaves are spotty brown. It has been well watered & mulched – is that rust? We went for a tree guild scenario with comfrey, calendula & herbs planted around it – just wondering what we should do to keep it going?
    We planted a peach & plum at the same time which seem to be doing well.

    • Hey Sarah – sounds like your pear has a wonderful home. Likely to be a fungal issue – this summer has been ripe for pathogenic fungi and young trees are more vulnerable. Keep building your diverse living garden – theres nothing better that you can do apart from taking up with biological sprays. Check through my healthy fruit tree game plan https://www.ediblebackyard.co.nz/my-healthy-fruit-tree-game-plan/ to see if theres anything else for you to add and acknowledge that some seasons will just cause fungi to run riot!

  4. Hi there, My pear tree has blossom end rot. What do I need to do with a pear tree to prevent this please, and what time of year? Thanks

  5. Marloes Leunissen says

    Hi Kath, two years ago I founds some apple mussel scale on some apples and now I just found one infected plum. The infestation looks minor, but I would like to keep it under control. i am growing comfrey, wild garlic and oregano around the fruit trees and I am about to replenish the wood chips. Is there anything I could do to prevent or treat this?
    Thanks, you are my garden guru

    • Nice observations, noticing it early is the thing.
      My first port of call is to check if there are any stressors in your trees environment – eg: too dry, too wet, over fed (fertiliser, lots of compost) or if fresh woodchips were used too thickly.
      After that, I’d want to watch and see if any predatory insects were active amongst the scale – there are a few different parasitic wasps that predate them as well as ladybirds and earwigs. To this end keep building your predatory populations – leaf litter and bits of rotting wood for earwigs, pests + pollen (geraniums, nasturtiums…) for ladybirds, pests + nectar (umbelliferae flowers like dill, parsley, daikon and brassica flowers like mustard) for p. wasps + being spray free as beneficial insects are super sensitive to sprays.
      Check for excellent airflow and light through your trees – perhaps thin a few branches if not, esp really low ones.
      Partially rotten woodchip scattered about is a great idea, and increase your wonderful sounding herbal ley with the recommended plants.
      Because you’ve noticed early you can watch what unfolds without stress.
      cheers K