Every year we get asked about how we manage our pest problems, and honestly it’s a difficult question to answer. Not that we have reservations about telling anyone – in fact, we are quite proud of our pest management program.
There are two types of pest (and disease) control programs: Organic, and what people call “conventional”. Organic is fairly simple in that only organic based (derived from natural sources) products are used for disease, insect, and plant nutrition. For some reason many people feel Organic means unsprayed. But, in fact Organic crops frequently are sprayed more than Farms using non organic products.
I put parentheses around “conventional” because that is what not being Organic is referred to in the media. Conventional is a term that goes back to the 60’s and 70’s, when synthetic pesticides were new and used to describe a program of Orchard sanitation (kill everything). Basically, the conventional program evolved around the calendar, “It’s the first week of June so we spray.”
That type of program lost its steam when Orchard sanitation failed and people started to realize you need to work within the ecosystem of the farm to manage pest and disease issues. This was the beginning of a program called Integrated Pest Management or IPM – the type of program we follow today.
An IPM program follows a series of guidelines to help a farmer make sound, science based decisions on the actions taken to control pest or diseases. Any given decision is based on multiple factors, creating a complicated process. Factors include weather/environmental conditions, presence or lack of predator insects, establishment of a threat, and meeting threshold numbers for target insects. If a determination is made, a control is needed. Then we evaluate our control options to target whether or not the pest (or disease) is safe, minimally invasive, but can control the target to maintain numbers below an economic threshold. However, sometimes scouting and analysis might show no need to treat. The threshold numbers for control may not have been met, and the weather may not be advantageous for disease to take hold.
For our IPM program we utilize the University extension service to “scout” the Orchard weekly, helping with on site advice and informative research Emails. In addition, we do our own scouting to stay on top of what is going on in the Orchard. We also tract “degree hours”, insect stages, and tree stages which all give us information we use to make decisions.
For every crop we grow there are different Insects and diseases, and evaluations are different for each. It’s very complicated sometimes, but we have a very experienced staff that wants to preserve the longevity and legacy of Bishops Orchards. We do our best to assure the best and safest fruit we can provide our customers.