April 3, 2018

Time to Start Thinking About Pest Control

Home Orchard
Many homeowners enjoy raising their own fruit, but anyone who has attempted to grow fruit in their backyard knows that fruit crops are attacked by a wide variety of insect and disease pests and prone to environmental damage, especially in the Midwest.  For your Home Orchard, we recommend the use of an entirely new approach to managing pests called Biointensive Integrated Pest management (Bio-IPM) to minimize the insect and disease damage to your fruit. Biointensive IPM utilizes a systems approach to pest management based on an understanding of pest ecology and tree physiology.  It begins with steps to accurately diagnose the nature and source of pest problems, and then relies on a range of preventive tactics and biological controls to keep pest populations within acceptable limits.  The preventative tactics include a combination of ecological, biological, natural, and cultural controls to keep applications of chemical and organic controls to a minimum. The goal is only to spray as a last resort for the control of pest and disease and to only use the most environmentally friendly materials.

Meet the EnemyIn the northern regions of Illinois and in most apple growing regions east of the Mississippi, there are four main pests of apple trees.  Those four main pests are plum curculio, codling moth, apple maggot, fire blight and apple scab. To learn more about these pests and how to control them, you may want to download the available pest fact sheets  and the "Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings" guide from Purdue University available here or on our web site. This publication provides homeowners with the information they need to produce an acceptable amount of quality fruit (apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries).


SpinosadOften there are enough beneficials (insects that prey upon other insects) to control the pest(s) in your orchard without spraying.  On other occasions you might use traps to catch pest species as they enter your orchard, or determine from the traps that there are too few of the pest to cause serious damage to your trees or fruit. But if you do have to control insect pests, there are many new all natural products on the market today that can be a 100% ecological solution.  One of those products is spinosad. Spinosad is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is a mixture of two abcterium called spinosyn A and spinosyn D. It is can be used to control a wide variety of insect pests. But  always, as a last resort, reduced- risk pesticides may need to be used if other tactics have not been adequately effective, and with care to minimize risks. 

 As the growing season approaches, now is the  time to determine what pest problems you had last season, or may have this season, and what the best approach is to handle those problems.  As the various stages of tree growth develop, so does the growth of pests.   The "Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings" guide will provide for you a chart of the growth cycles of the tree and a spray guide chart to let you know what pests are prevalent during those growth stages.  The "Spray Guide" will give you a list of environmentally friendly products you might need to use against those pests as a last resort.  Remember, spray chemicals is a last resort, but is also necessary if bio-controls are not working on your pests.

The benefits of implementing biointensive IPM include reduced chemical input costs, reduced environmental impacts, and more effective and sustainable pest management.  An ecology-based IPM has the potential of decreasing inputs of natural chemicals and synthetic chemicals - all of which are energy intensive and increasingly costly in terms of financial and environmental impact.  All these efforts make it possible for you to apply chemical controls only a few times each season when they are truly required. And we can recommend the use the most environmentally friendly materials available in our Nursery Center.      

I hope you find this post useful!  As always, if you have any questions contact me anytime via comments or through our !

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