HOLLIS, N.H. — Pest control is an important consideration for any fruit growing operation. Aphids, apple maggots, codling moths, various kinds of leaf-eating caterpillars and more can all cause damage to fruit growing trees and ultimately harm a fruit grower’s production and bottom line. To combat pests some growers turn to Integrated Pest Management.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an environmentally sensitive way of pest management that combines information on the life cycles of pests with several pest control methods. IPM involves a series of actions and most follow a four-tiered approach: setting action thresholds, monitoring, prevention, and control.
The first step involves setting action thresholds. Growers individually determine levels of pest populations or environmental conditions that will trigger pest control actions on their farm. After the levels have been set monitoring continuously takes place to keep track of what pests are effecting trees and whether they are enough of an issue to elicit control actions.
Prevention is another step in this approach and serves as the first line of defense in pest management. Preventative measures often take the form of cultural methods, like crop rotation for instance. These methods minimize the conditions that a pest needs to live which prevents them from becoming abundant. Planting varieties that are naturally or genetically resistant to pests is another method used by producers.
If prevention methods are not effective and monitoring indicates that action should be taken to stop a kind of pest, control methods are implemented. Mechanical controls like trapping, vacuuming, or the installation of barriers are an option. Biological methods like the encouragement of or use of predators, parasites, or diseases of a pest are also used.
Chemical methods are another option and they can come in two forms: biorational and conventional. Biorational methods are less toxic and effect a certain part of a pest’s biology. These can be paired with other mechanical controls. For example, insect pheromones paired with sticky traps can disrupt pest breeding and/or lure them to the trap. If biorational or other control methods are not effective, then conventional pesticides are used.
Many New Hampshire fruit growers employ IPM practices. Riverview Farm in Plainfield uses some methods in its apple orchard and finds them to be beneficial. Paul Franklin of Riverview Farm shared, “Some of the IPM monitoring/trapping procedures really help target when the disease and insect pressure are at an economic level to determine if a targeted spray is needed or not. One of the best tools available to growers is the NEWA (Network for Environment and Weather Applications) at Cornell [University] that ties together many weather stations to its website to help determine through modeling the pressure or maturity of various diseases and insects. That modeling coupled with our on-site observations really helps determine the need for control methods, and often leads to good quality apples with reduced spray.”
While the methods of Integrated Pest Management vary, the end result is always to produce quality fruit in a way that good for the environment and for people. If you visit a fruit farm this year you may spot some IPM methods at work.
To find an orchard or farm near you, or to learn more about IPM visit the New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association website at www.nhfruitgrowers.org.
About the New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association:
The NH Fruit Growers Association (NHFGA) is a non-profit association made up of tree fruit farmers, commercial, and supporting members who share a passion for New Hampshire-grown apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and pears. Among the association’s approximately 30 member orchards and farms, there’s diversity in size, fruit, and farm products, but they all gladly share the hard work of taking great care to grow quality fresh fruit for their customers. Keep up with NHFGA on Facebook and Instagram (@NHFruitGrowers) for nutrition information, fun facts, recipes, and more!
–New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association