Building in Integrated Pest Management network in cooperation with Iowa fruit and vegetable growers
Fifty-one commercial growers of apples, strawberries, tomatoes, and/or watermelons cooperated with Iowa State University (ISU) Extension specialists in a three-year program to evaluate IPM control techniques. Scouts and growers monitored pest infestations and diseases such as codling moth on apples, tarnished plant bugs on strawberries, and anthracnose on tomatoes and melons. Growers sprayed only when pest populations or disease risk values reached levels capable of doing crop damage. Weather conditions were monitored for periods favorable to pest outbreaks. On average, ISU researchers estimate that growers applied from 25 to 55 percent fewer insecticide and fungicide sprays (depending on the year and the particular pest) by using IPM methods in comparison to their usual practices. For the growers, this meant decreased input costs, a better bottom line, and enhanced competitiveness.