How to Use Fungicides: Copper, Lime Sulfur + ACV

Pear Scab

Cankers, oozing sap, fruit scab, fruit rot, leaf spots or leaf curl are all signs bacteria or fungus are ruling the roost in your orchard. The ultimate is to manage these infections via a diverse, slightly wild but robust orchard environ. While you establish the companion plantings and below ground myccorhizal network that is at the heart of your fruit trees wellness, should you come a cropper with serious fungal disease you have options. Read on!


Cider vinegar is pretty damn effective for fungal infections if you spray regularly.

1 Tablespoon per litre of water. Spray in the evening or morning, or after rain.

Here’s what other edible backyarders are saying
“…sprayed 2/3 times a week and cleaned all the leaf curl from my peaches and they went onto crop well.”
“My peaches went down with brown rot three years in a row, I stumbled on cider vinegar as a possible solution and no more brown rot! I spray them every month through the growing season.”
“I have used ACV (apple cider vinegar) on all my fruit trees for years and have greatly minimised black spot in apples and hardly have any leaf curl in stone fruits. I spray at the first sign of infection, a few times a week.”   

Copper + Lime Sulfur

Fungicides are powerful medicine. They’re very good at their job, but there is a trade-off. They are non-selective, meaning they wipe everything out – the bad and the good. Like antibiotics, if you will. Like antibiotics, they are best used only when absolutely necessary. Persistent use impacts overall immunity. However, recurring fungal infections are tricky beasts to bring back to balance. A balancing act the gardener has to weigh.

Your best bet is to watch issues unfold from place of calm. Every gardener you speak to will be full of opinions, the main thing is that you aren’t full of fear. Its AOK, my friend. Trust your gut.

How To Use Copper

It’s so important to use these big impact sprays in a timely manner. Do not copper when blossom is out. Copper is super toxic to bees.

  • One spray at leaf fall when the tree is covered in hundreds of tiny openings, so effective!
  • Two sprays late winter/ early spring. Do the first one when the fruit buds start to fatten up, but before the slivers of pink show themselves. Do a second spray a fortnight later. The period from bud swell to blossom happens super quick – be sure to be in your fruit trees regularly to catch the transition.
  • Spray for full coverage – in all the nooks and crannies.
  • Spray on a dry, still, mild day.
  • Wear a mask and sunnies.
  • Follow the dilution rates to the T.
  • Don’t mix copper with any other spray.

How To Use Lime Sulfur

Lime sulfur is an age old fungicide and does an excellent job of cleaning up serious health problems. It will burn foliage off, so only use while trees are fully dormant and not on Apricots who are really sensitive to it.

  • Spray while trees are dormant.
  • Wear old clothes, a mask and sunnies and be prepared for the rotten egg smell!
  • Spray on a dry, still, mild day.
  • Follow the dilution rates to the T.
  • Don’t mix lime sulfur with any other spray.

Buying these things can be mind blowing, and the labels aren’t helpful unless you are a scientist. Contact  Sarah at edible garden is my advice. She sells the stuff she uses in the nursery. The good stuff.

Let it go

There is of course another option – and its the one I lean towards if a tree gets continually hammered with disease – swap it out. Its obviously not well suited. Let it go and try again.



  1. Kara Wright says

    Hi – Could you please tell me if I can use copper and lime sulphur sprays on citrus? I have what look like rust spots on my lemon trees at the moment. Thanks!

    • Good to check – most definately not lime sulfur! You can use copper – usually late autumn depending on what you’ve got going on. How about you send through a piccy.

  2. Hi Kath,
    Avo,s they seem to have quite yellow leaves?
    How best to make soil ph about 6.7
    cheers Carina

  3. Shona McKee says

    Hi Kath what do you use on Codling moth which my apple trees were suffering from last Summer?

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