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.