Growing Organic Apples With Fruit Bagging

Bagging Apples on Your Orchard Trees

January 29, 2019
Apples Bagged and Unbagged

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Apples are the most pesticide- and fungicide-laden foods grown commercially and in home gardens. Last year, I grew apples organically with the help of fruit bagging. By bagging apples on my orchard trees, I harvested bigger, disease-free apples!

Growers start spraying trees in late winter and continue, sometimes on a weekly basis, until fruit is harvested five to eight months later—all in the name of producing perfect apples with no blemishes. It’s what we consumers demand: defect-free, flawless fruit. 

However, it’s easy to grow perfect, pristine apple without any spray if you bag the apples when they are tiny, shortly after blossom drop.

For over 200 years, the Japanese tied little bags over developing fruit. They first used white silk bags they sewed until the 1960’s when plastic bags became readily available. (Look for recyclable, biodegradable bags from or other retailers.) Apples are prized gifts in the Japanese culture, selling for as much as $10 each. Perfection is a must for growers, so they bag each apple when they thin fruit clusters to prevent disfigurement by insects and diseases like cedar apple rust as the fruit grows.

This pristine Ashmead’s Kernel apple escapes the cedar apple rust disease (the orange growth on the leaf), because it’s bagged.

Bagging apples makes my life, as an apple grower, easier. I don’t have to spray, even organic concoctions. I just bag the apple, selecting one from each cluster when I thin fruit, spacing them about eight inches apart on branches. When it’s time to harvest, I simply snap off the apples from the tree and remove the bag.

A bagged apple is disease-free and picture-perfect, plus it’s much larger and more  flavorful than those exposed to disease and insect infestations.

Extra heat gathered by the ag will help to build the brix level (sugar content) in the fruit and contributes to larger size and more flavor. Apples mature a week or two earlier when grown in bags, too, which is a bonus in colder climates like mine.


How to Bag Apples

When you see apple blossoms on the trees, you know bagging is going to start soon!  Usually a week or two after blossom drop is the optimal time to bag.

Buy zipper-lock or sliding-lock sandwich plastic bags. You can find recyclable, biodegradable plastic bags now on Amazon and from other retailers.

  1. Snip off the two bottom corners of each bag diagonally. This allows accumulated moisture to drain away from developing fruit.
  2. When set fruit is about the size of a pea, thin clusters to one strong apple; space them at least 8 inches apart on branches.
  3. Place a bag over each fruit and close the zipper or slide lock around the fruit stem. If the fruit falls off during the process, it wasn’t fully pollinated and would abort on its own later.

After bagging, there is nothing else to do, other than to observe the developing fruit periodically.

For more tips on growing and harvesting apples, consult The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s free Apple Growing Guide.

About This Blog

A lifelong gardener shares the endless lessons she’s learned from her garden over the years, in hopes of making your own gardening just that much easier! Read along for advice, photos, and more.

2019 Garden Guide

Reader Comments

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Would this process work for peaches too?

Bagging tomato fruit

Would this work for tomatoes? I have a problem with stinkbugs.

bagging tomatoes

Yes, bagging with tomatoes has been shown to work (though we haven’t done it ourselves). According to studies, fruit bagging with organza fabric reduced insect damage and increased the size and yield of the fruit! It did not affect flower abortion, skin color and fruit fresh weight but it will delay the harvest period by 3 days. 

Many folks say it’s fairly easy. Here’s some advice on how to bag:

We would think it might be difficult to cover tomatoes, given all the leaves and greenery. If bagging proves to be too challenging, perhaps just use a thin fabric covering of organza or no-see-um mesh.


Would bagging the fruit

Would bagging the fruit provide any protection against critters? I lose my apples every year to opossums and raccoons who climb the fence adjacent to the tree and eat their fill before harvest.

Critter protection from the

Critter protection from the bags has worked for me.  I've had a couple of bags with chew marks on them and several apples that fell off the tree.  But, in general, it works.

I have 50 acre mango farm

I have 50 acre mango farm with a mix of kent and keitt mangos. This year I lost 20% of harvest due to fruit flies. Would zip-lock be appropriate for these mangos or I should consider Japanese bags?

I see that there is someone

I see that there is someone selling Japanese apple bags on ebay at

It might be worth trying.

I just wanted to thank you

I just wanted to thank you for this I am going to try this, this year. tried paper bags but I live in Washington with all the rain they fell off or broke this sounds like a much better solution!

Hello how are you .we produce

Hello how are you .we produce guava in Central America and we used growing paper bags the best way to save your fruits ,and we also sell this products .pls let me know I can get some samples for you .ed

Can we also bag guava?

Can we also bag guava?

Will bagging work on lemons

Will bagging work on lemons and tangerines? Something keeps stripping the rind off of my young citrus fruit. I am in zone 8b. Thanks!

Bagging would probably work;

Bagging would probably work; I'd think that the fruit would ripen sooner, too. It's worth experimenting with a few.

I've seen paper bags on

I've seen paper bags on apples blossoms. do you recommend them? do they work ok? thanks

As far as I know apple

As far as I know apple blossoms need to be cross-pollinated with another cultivar to set fruit.

Does bagging prevent fungus

Does bagging prevent fungus disease? We have a lot more problem with fungi here in the Catskills than insects. And what do you do with CAR? I haven't found any way to get around spraying for that one.

Yes, bagging prevent fungal

Yes, bagging prevent fungal diseases IF you bag fruit at pea-size, before infestations.

Bagging quinces?

Is there any point to bagging quinces? Does it make them sweeter? I have an extremely productive quince tree that produces marvelous fruit… although, now that I think about it, last year for the first time they were infested with these bright red worms.

Re: Bagging quinces

I have no experience growing quince, but it wouldn't hurt to experiment.  Bag 20 percent of them on trees and see if there is a difference.  Let us know, too, as plenty of readers are interested fruit growers.


Can bagging be done with pears too? I am new to gardening this year. I was lucky to inherit 3 apple trees with the purchase of my first home. I moved into the home in June of 2010 and the apples looked small and ugly like the picture. I have to ask, how many bags fly from your apple tree? How many should I expect to put on?

Re: Bagging

Yes, you can bag pears and Asian pears.  They, too, have hard flesh.  I have seven minature apple and Asian pear trees that I bag.  They all are under eight feet in height.  I use about 300 bags for all of them.  But, if you have standard size trees, you will need more bags.  Remember to cut off the corners so that moisture drains.  I cut them when I watch TV at night.  No bags fly off my trees, unless the tree aborts an apple that is not fully pollinated.  It would do that normally.  Those are called drops, and you see them under most trees in late spring or early summer.

soft flesh fruit

It seems to me that maybe paper bags or natural fabric bags might work on the soft flesh fruit you mentioned. The reason I was thinking it might work is both paper and natural fabrics "breath" and won't keep in the heat and moisture.

Re: soft flesh fruit

I've tried waxed paper on grapes and peaches.  They didn't work, because Japanese beetles and bird pecked through the bags, letting disease and other insects in.  Fabric may work, but it would have to be a thin, light weave.  If you use them, let us know your results.


What about Persimmons? can you bag them?

Please respond to my email at;

Re: Persimmons

Persimmons have soft flesh, like peaches and plums.  They rot in the bags due to excess heat and moisture.  Apples are hard fleshed and not effected by either.

bagging apples

Can plastic bags be used in zone6-7? I am in Northern Maryland, and I have heard of using paper bags, but I wonder if the heat that would accumulate in plastic might be too much. Variety in question is Liberty. Thanks

RE: bagging apples

You can use plastic bags.  The heat gathered by it means more flavor and sweetness, plus apples with ripen a couple weeks sooner.


can you bag peaches the same way?

Re: peaches

Peaches, apricots, cherries and other stone fruits have soft flesh that rots in bags.  Sorry!  However, you can bag pears and Asian pears.  I bag both of them in my little orchard, and they are terrific.

Bagging fruit on the tree

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