IPM in Our Orchard

We want to raise the best fruit we can with respect and care for our surroundings. To secure the health and quality of both our environment and our fruit crop, we coordinate a range of control strategies so that we can reduce our use of chemicals and fertilizers. This think before you spray approach underpins Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the foundation of our orchard operation. IPM is a practical way to handle agricultural pests (insects, diseases, weeds, fungi, mildew, bacteria), but rather than a calendar based spray program, IPM explores solutions. Combining evaluation, thought, and action, IPM is a comprehensive system that helps us produce choice fruit with the fewest environmental consequences.

IPM Protocol

Cover crop of Austrian winter peas

Arid western states are free of the moisture-related diseases and most of the insect damage we see in Arkansas and Missouri. Ozark orchards, in contrast, compete with relentless summer heat, humidity, and insects, and we struggle with still more insects at our farm because we grow fruit in a recovering ecosystem. Given our climate, IPM proves to be the most appropriate and sustainable growing practice for our orchard.

An integrated methodology, sound pest management involves prevention, observation, analysis, action, and reevaluation. At the start of each season, for instance, we can prevent or at least minimize problems before they escalate by keeping our orchard healthy through annual pruning and cover crop planting. Regular scouting is also necessary to identify pests, keep insect counts, and assess damage. If pest damage is at or below tolerable thresholds, we may do no more than continue to monitor the site; on the other hand, if pest damage persists, we can consider how to make conditions less favorable by using a control or combination of controls (biological, cultural, mechanical, chemical) that best suits our scenario.

Each pest has a life cycle that is subject to weather and environment. With this in mind, we try to use the means of control that protects our ecosystem and our fruit crop, and whatever the control choice we make, we then further judge its effectiveness. IPM in our orchard is a conscientious and ecologically responsible way to grow apples and peaches, indulging our habit of eating fruit straight from the tree.

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