Growers now fire–up their computers before firing up their tractors.
Pest management requires precise tools
Looking at the app store, there is a huge number of apps to help time the spray application, understand the weather, and calibrate the sprayer to get exactly the right coverage of the spray, and the correct amount of chemical out to control the pest or disease.
Over the years, fruit growers have traded in their shotgun-like pest control tools for more precise rifle-like tools and bullets capable of hitting moving targets with great accuracy.
As growers adopt these new weapons, they need to perfect their use of them. Like gun control, the shotguns have been withdrawn and replaced with the more accurate sniper rifles.
New ‘sharp shooter’ products
There has been much discussion on the ‘new’ chemistries over recent years, although a lot of this is not ‘new’ anymore.
These new sharp shooter products are like specialised ‘bullets’ (the insect and disease control chemicals) but not like broad spectrum pellets in a shotgun.
These new bullets need to be fired precisely at the right pests, with good accuracy, and at precise times—using different bullets for different pests at different stages of development.
Importance of sprayers
A very important part in the offensive is the artillery division—the sprayers that deliver the bullets into trees. These units are not the same as they once were.
They can have flow controllers, pressure regulators with computer controlled application. Often these sprayers are used for a variety of tree sizes and different growing systems.
Small trees in high-density configurations are not the same as big trees with large canopies. There is very little room for error, for both environmental and cost-efficiency reasons and efficacy of the chemicals.
Hitting the target
With the new arsenals, how do orchardists hit the targets, and know when the targets are vulnerable to being hit?
Unlike bygone days when growers ‘kept the crop covered’ with long-residual insecticides and fungicides applied on monthly intervals, growers will realize confidence in the new products.
We have the newer less risk pesticides that require more precise timing and use patterns because of their different modes of action.
Major and secondary pests
Growers face a range of major insect pests—Queensland Fruit Fly in the east, Medfly in the west, Codling Moth, Oriental Fruit Moth, and LBAM.
Then there are a range of secondary pests: mites, scales, aphids; and cyclic pests that sometimes appear such as: harlequin bug, Carpophilus beetle, western flower thrips and apple dimple bug.
Where once they could almost all be managed with repeated cover sprays of broad-spectrum insecticides, now they are often managed individually.
As we improve the pest control process, the key pests drive the pest management program—just as they always have.
(continued next month)
See this article in Tree Fruit Nov 2016