Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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Enhanced Biocontrol Pear growers surveyed on BIOLOGICAL CONTROL Barriers to adopting biological control practices include perceived ineffectiveness, lack of adequate knowledge, and high cost. However, growers who use them find that their input costs and pesticide use decline. by Jessica Goldberger, Wendy Jones, and Nadine Lehrer, Washington State University TABLE 1 Important factors in pest management decision making Not important (%) Somewhat important (%) Very important (%) Economic cost 6 27 4 31 65 4 41 55 Who completed surveys? Of the 1,000 Washington and Oregon pear growers contacted, 36% completed surveys. Respondents ranged in age from 23 to 85 with a mean age of 57 years. On average, respondents had spent 25 years involved in pear production. More than half (53%) of respondents had a four-year college degree, and 19% had attended graduate school. The majority (89%) of survey respondents were orchard owners, partners, or lessees, while 9% were hired managers. Respondents operated, on average, 140 acres of farmland, including 46 acres of pears. The most popular pear varieties were d'Anjou, Bartlett, and Comice. Twenty-six percent of respondents had less than $50,000 in gross income from pear production; 41% reported $50,000 to $249,999; 25% reported $250,000 to $999,999; and 8% reported $1 million or more. impacts, and environmental impacts to varying degrees when making pest management decisions for their orchards (see Table 1). The most common sources of information for making pest management decisions for growers were agricultural chemical distributor field horticulturists; insecticide label information; packing warehouse field horticulturists; formal education and continuing education classes; and industry-sponsored conferences, workshops, and seminars. Washington respondents placed significantly greater importance on packing warehouse field horticulturists and university Web sites, while Oregon respondents placed more importance on field days and farm tours. Ninety percent of respondents used the services of some type of pest management consultant. Most respondents followed all or most of the advice that those consultants provided (see Figure 1). Most pear growers reported using computers for their farm business (93% in Oregon and 82% in Washington), while fewer used smartphones (34% in Oregon and 22% in Washington). Nearly 75% of respondents reported regularly accessing the Internet for farm information. How widespread is use of biological control? Three-quarters of the survey respondents relied on one or more biological control practices to control insect pests. In both states, strategies to minimize factors that harm natural enemies were more commonly used than ways to enhance natural enemy habitats or releasing commercially produced natural enemies (see Table 2). Adopters, on average, had been using a form of conservation biological control for ten years and augmentative biological control for five years. Although 25% of the respondents did not practice biological control, two-thirds of them were somewhat or very familiar with the concept. Growers from both 67 Human health I mplementing stable biological control programs requires growers and pest managers to have a much better understanding of management actions against not only pests, but also their natural enemies. Sound management strategies must consider the phenology of both pests and natural enemies, but also optimal timing of management activities and selection of pesticides to result in maximum suppression of the pest, while minimizing the effects on natural enemies. Members of the multistate project "Enhancing Biological Control in Western Orchard Systems" conducted a survey of pear growers in Oregon and Washington. The goals were to measure adoption of biological control; to better understand growers' perceptions of the benefits and barriers to using biological control; and to obtain information about preferred outreach methods. impacts Environmental impacts How do growers make pest management decisions? Pear growers consider economic cost, human health TABLE 3 FIGURE 1 Use of selected IPM practices for codling moth control by state Amount of pest management consultants' advice followed by pear growers Oregon (%) Washington (%) Degree-day calculations 91 83 Selection of insecticides 88 87 74 77 41 50 TABLE 2 Use of biological control practices by state Oregon (%) Washington (%) Conservation Biological Control Minimizing factors that 79 68 produced natural enemies 10 May 1, 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER timing least disruptive to natural enemies 20 18 Spot or border sprays to minimize harm enemy habitats Augmentative Biological Control Releasing commercially to natural enemies Insecticide application harm natural enemies Enhancing natural least disruptive Some: 4.1% to natural enemies 3 5 Pheromone mating disruption About half: 2.4% 37 58 Most: 62.5% All: 31.0% SOURCE: Washington State University

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