Bagging Fruit for Disease & Insect Management

In Kentucky, pest management in home orchards can be challenging, and fungicide and insecticide applications are often necessary for management of certain pests. Fruit bagging, however, can eliminate certain sprays by physically protecting fruit during development.  This method can be used by backyard fruit growers and small-scale commercial producers. Bagging takes just 30 seconds per fruit or fruit cluster.

Crops such as apples, peaches, and grapes are ideal candidates for bagging. This method is commonly used for apple to decrease damage from diseases such as apple scab, sooty blotch/fly speck, and fruit rots and from insects such as insects such as stink bugs, coddling moth, plum curculio, San Jose scale, and rosy apple aphid.

The following provides how-to information for bagging fruit.

Steps to Fruit Bagging

  1. Fruit should be bagged when they are in the early development stage.
  • Apples: Cover fruit with bags when fruit are approximately ¾ inch in diameter.
  • Peaches: Cover fruit with bags when fruit are approximately ¾ inch in diameter.
  • Grapes: Cover fruit with bags when grapes are pea-sized.
  1. Thin fruit to one fruit per cluster prior to applying the bag.
  2. One insecticide spray should be used prior to bagging.
  3. Cover individual fruit with bag type of choice and attach around the branch or stem.
  4. Oriental, Clemson, and paper lunch bags have a slit for attaching around the branch or stem. These bags should be pleated together and secured with a wire or twist tie. Plastic bags should be zipped closed and secured with staples.
  5. Clemson and paper bags should be removed from apple and peach three weeks before harvest so fruit color properly. Oriental fruit bags have a double layer: outer paper layer should be removed three weeks before harvest, while inner waxed paper layer should be left until harvest.  Bags may remain on grape clusters until harvest.

Types of Fruit Bags

Several types of bags can be used to protect fruit from diseases and insects.

  • Oriental Fruit Bags (Japanese Fruit Bags) (Figure 1) – These commercially available bags feature a double layer of paper and waxed paper, a pre-cut slit at the top, and a built-in wire. The approximate cost is $0.35 per bag.
  • Clemson Fruit Bags (Figure 2) – These bags are made of a single layer of paper, and they have a pre-cut slit and built in wire. The approximate cost is $0.10 per bag.
  • Plastic freezer bag (Figure 3) – This method uses plastic freezer bags with the bottom corners cut off to allow for condensation drainage. Freezer bags are more resilient than storage bags. The approximate cost is $0.10 per bag.
  • Paper Lunch Bag (Figure 4) – This method uses white or brown paper lunch bags cut to 5 to 6 inches in length with a 2 to 3 inch slit cut down one side. Twist ties are used to secure bags. The approximate cost is $0.05 per bag.
Figure 1: Oriental Fruit Bag with outer layer intact. (Photo: Kim Leonberger, UK)
Figure 2: Clemson Fruit Bag. (Photo: Clemson Fruit Bags User Guide, Screen shot taken 4/7/2020)
Figure 3: Plastic freezer bag with corners cut for drainage. (Photo: Kim Leonberger, UK)
Figure 4: Paper lunch bag modified for fruit bagging. (Photo: Kim Leonberger, UK)

Additional Information

  • Bagging Apples: Alternative Pest Management for Hobbyists (ENTFACT-218)
  • 2018 Fruit and Vegetable Research Report (PR-757) – Page 12

By Kim Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate, Nicole Gauthier, Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, and Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist

Posted in Fruit
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