How We Grow

2020 May/June How We Grow

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 19

A L M O N D O R C H A R D 2 0 2 5 G O A L S PEST MANAGEMENT USDA Pays Growers to Ruin the Romance for Navel Orangeworm A federal incentive program is providing options for growers who want to spoil the party for the worst pest in almonds – Navel Orangeworm (NOW) – while using fewer pesticides to get the job done. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to combating NOW combines several practices to control populations while minimizing unwanted environmental impacts, such as pesticide drift, or harming beneficial insects and pollinators. IPM can ultimately improve a grower's bottom line while moving the California almond industry closer to achieving its Almond Orchard 2025 Goal of increasing adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools by 25%. Grower Kent Stenderup said the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped him fund a comprehensive IPM strategy for NOW that reduced pesticide-related risks in some of his orchards near Arvin. This funding helped him cover the cost of mating disruption technology to add to his NOW-fighting regime, and he's pleased with the results. "We have mating disruption technology in three fields at this time. The practice continues to prove itself, and we're adding acres as we go," Stenderup said. "The bottom line is our handler is happier and so are our books." Confused mating, improved crop Stenderup's NOW battle plan is made up of various IPM practices including winter sanitation, which involves destroying "mummy nuts" to keep NOW larvae from infesting orchards post-harvest. Monitoring moth populations to carefully time sprays during moths' egg-laying flights – especially during hullsplit – is another important strategy. Stenderup added mating disruption to his NOW management plan three years ago to up his game and better address the threat of NOW and growing aflatoxin concerns in export markets. Dispensers were installed, one per acre, to flood the air in his orchard with pheromones that mimic those of female moths. The evening deluge of these come-hither chemicals, which normally help males find their mates, instead leave males confused and less able to find females. Disrupting the mating process means fewer eggs will hatch into damaging larvae, thereby reducing the spread of molds that can leave aflatoxin residues. High rates of damage also lead to lower grades and payments to growers. Because the pheromones don't impact beneficial insects and pollinators, mating disruption can be safer than some conventional sprays. Stenderup said mating disruption allows him to use less insecticide and harvest better crops. He feels the tool is easy to manage, as the company, Semios, that installed the technology operates it using remote sensing. "They install, maintain and operate all of the equipment. There's no maintenance; there's nothing for me to do," Stenderup said. Stenderup is confident mating disruption has more than paid for itself by allowing for a better quality crop and fewer passes through the orchard with a spray rig. "In orchards with mating disruption technology, we have reduced at least one Navel Orangeworm spray and reject rates have improved, with improvement in grades." Program cuts costs in half Another reason Stenderup tried mating disruption was because the NRCS program through which he received funds – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Pest Management Conservation System 595 program – pays him a little more than $71 per acre to implement his Pest Management Conservation System (payments are dependent on multiple factors and vary for each grower). That payment, made each year under a three-year contract, nearly cuts in half his costs to install and operate the system, which runs about $150 per acre, per year. The rest of the costs are more than made up for with better quality almonds and a decreased use of pesticide. Jesse Roseman, principal analyst in Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the Almond Board of California (ABC), cautioned that no single IPM tactic can guarantee results, and that results vary from grower to grower. However, this NRCS program can give growers more confidence about adding new tactics to their NOW battle plan. Working with NRCS may now be easier than ever, Roseman said, because of the large number of almond growers who recently participated in USDA's Market Facilitation Program (MFP). Those who Kent Stenderup A L M O N D O R C H A R D 2 0 2 5 G O A L S PEST MANAGEMENT 5

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of How We Grow - 2020 May/June How We Grow