JoAnne Skelly: Timely fruit tree tips from Michael’s apples

JoAnne Skelly

JoAnne Skelly

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Longtime master gardener Michael Janik has been teaching about and working with fruit trees for at least 25 years. I regard him as an expert, so I wanted to share his tips for what to do with fruit trees in February.

It’s time for pest control. Janik has been applying dormant oil to his fruit trees and roses. He says, “Although not necessary until spring bud swell to ¼ inch green tip, I like to attack aphids early by applying a winter application of dormant oil spray to my fruit trees.” The purpose of an early application is to smother the over-wintering aphid eggs.

It is best to apply it during mild weather in January or February as long as no precipitation is forecast for at least 48 hours. Always follow label directions to avoid damaging your plants.

Janik is a whiz at pruning and training young trees. You can see his pruning talk on YouTube at: Or better yet, attend his upcoming class in person: Selecting and Growing Fruit Trees from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, part of The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners annual Gardening in Nevada Series at Bartley Ranch on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 p.m. in February and March. The schedule and sign-up information are at:,%3A%20The%20Bartley%20Ranch%20Series%22 You must sign-up to attend.

Since Janik knows his fruit trees, I pay attention to his suggestions about winter and early spring watering. He reports he’ll “be checking soil moisture on President’s Day this month, St. Patrick’s Day in March and Tax Day in April and watering as necessary.”

If you are interested in beekeeping, you might want to attend the upcoming Mason Valley Beekeepers 2024 Nevada State Beekeepers Conference on Feb. 23 and 24 in Yerington. Information and registration can be found at:

Finally, Janik knows vegetables too. He reports “I’ll be starting my peas and fava beans in moist paper towels around Valentine’s Day and planting when the roots have sprouted. Other cold-tolerant vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, kohlrabi, and spinach can also be started and planted at the end of February or early March.

Planting early will enable harvest before these cool weather plants bolt in the warm weather in June.” Thanks Michael! I always appreciate your gardening expertise.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment