Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Apple IPM Transition Project

Survey Results

2010 Apple Grower Survey

The 2010 Washington apple grower and manager pest management survey went out in January of 2011 to survey practices used during the 2010 crop season. Out of 2,155 eligible participants recieving surveys, about 25% choose to participate. Those surveyed made pest management descisions on a mean of 235 acres of apples. Summary results of this survey were analyzed Fall of 2011 and are now available to view online or download here.

Grower Survey Results
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Summary of Results

This report summarizes descriptive data from an apple pest management survey of Washington State apple orchard owners and managers. This survey measured levels of insecticide use, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practice adoption, and orchard owner/manager opinions on the transition to alternative pest management systems during the 2010 growing season.

The survey was mailed in January 2011 to a full sample of apple orchard owners and managers on a comprehensive Washington State Apple Commission list. Additional mailings were sent to orchard owners with 4 or more orchards. The first mailing was followed by a reminder postcard and a second survey mailing to encourage non-responders to complete the survey by mail or on the web. The response rate was 25% (546 surveys returned out of 2,155 eligible participants).

Thirty percent (30%) of respondents had participated in our 2008 baseline grower survey, while 70% had not. Seventy-six percent (76%) of respondents were orchard owners and 17% were hired orchard managers. Respondents represented just over 128,000 acres of apple orchards. Like in 2008, they identified agricultural chemical distributor fieldmen, the WSU Crop Protection guide, insecticide label information, and conferences, workshops or seminars as the most important sources of information in helping them make pest management decisions.

Orchard owners and managers surveyed made pest management decisions on a mean of 235 acres of apples, 5% of which was organic or in transition to organic (less than in 2008), and 35% of which was managed conventionally but without use of organophosphate (OP) insecticides (more than in 2008). Owners and managers also made pest management decisions on a mean of 44 acres of cherries, 23 acres of pears, and smaller acreages of apricots, peaches, nectarines, prunes, grapes, plums, and pluots. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of respondents were male, and 62% were between 45 and 64 years of age. Seventy-one percent (71%) had parents who farmed during their childhood, and 80% had pursued at least some college coursework.

Codling moth was identified as the number one pest causing unacceptable crop damage in orchards (49%), while 40% of orchard owners and managers did not have unacceptable crop damage in 2010. Twenty-one percent (21%) reported that codling moth caused unacceptable damage three years or more out of five, and 66% suggested that if no controls were applied for a year, s/he would experience 10% or more crop loss.

Most orchard owners and managers (73%) used Guthion in 2010 as part of their codling moth control program (down from 80% in 2008), 19% used Imidan, and 7% used Diazinon. Of these respondents, the most common numbers of applications used in 2010 were 1-2 for Guthion (down from 2-3 in 2008) and Imidan, and 1 for Diazinon (by about 70% of respondents). Fifty-nine percent (59%) of respondents said their use of OPs decreased in 2010 (up from 50% in 2008) and 30% said it stayed the same compared to the previous three years.

In terms of alternatives to OP insecticides, 68% of respondents used pheromone mating disruption, and many used Assail (59%), Horticultural spray oil or Delegate (56%), or Altacor (54%) to manage codling moth. Of these, the majority used 1 application of the product. Other OP alternatives were also used, albeit in smaller numbers, and most respondents reported that their overall use of OP alternatives had increased (47%) or remained the same (36%) compared to the previous three years. Seventeen percent (17%) indicated their use of OP alternatives had decreased or they did not use OP alternatives at all. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents reported using pheromone traps to monitor for pests, including 22% who used the recommended 1 trap per 2.5 acres and 28% who used 1 trap per 2.6-5 acres.

Orchard owners and managers’ most commonly used IPM tactics for codling moth control (with over 40% using them “often”) were field monitoring for damage, pheromone traps, degree-day models, delayed distribution of bins in the orchard, and resistance management strategies. Use of resistance management, field monitoring, degree day models, and pheromone traps had also increased among over 22% of respondents compared to the previous three years.

Overall, 61% percent of orchard owners and managers reported that codling moth injury had remained the same compared to the previous three years, 24% reported a decrease in codling moth injury, and 15% reported an increase. Seventy-five percent (75%) indicated that the cost of codling moth control had increased relative to the previous three years.

Leafrollers were less of a concern among orchard owners and managers, with 79% stating that never or only less than once in five years did they experience unacceptable crop damage due to leafrollers. Respondents were fairly evenly distributed on the scale of how much damage (from less than 1% to 10% or more) they thought leafrollers would cause if no controls were applied for a year.

To manage leafroller populations, 57% of orchard owners and managers used Lorsban, 26% Guthion, 10% Imidan, and 4% Diazinon. Of these, respondents most commonly made one application of Lorsban, Imidan, and Diazinon and 1-2 applications of Guthion. Fifty-five percent (55%) of respondents reported their use of OP insecticides for leafroller remained constant compared to the previous three years, while 27% reported a decrease, 1% an increase, and 18% did not use OPs for leafroller.

In terms of alternatives to OP insecticides for leafroller control, growers used a variety of products, the most popular of which were Delegate (45%), Horticultural spray oil (44%), Altacor (37%), Success (34%), and Intrepid (33%). Of these respondents, most used one to two applications. Sixty-two percent (62%) of respondents reported levels of OP alternative insecticide use remained the same compared to the previous three years, 19% reported an increase, 9% reported a decrease, and 10% did not use OP alternatives for leafroller control.

Orchard owners and managers’ most commonly used IPM tactics for leafroller populations (with over 30% using them “often”) were field monitoring for damage, resistance management strategies, and degree-day models, each of which had increased among 13-19% of respondents compared to the previous three years. Seventy-two percent (72%) of respondents indicated that leafroller injury had stayed the same relative to the previous three years and 23% reported a decrease. Forty-eight (48%) percent indicated costs of leafroller control had increased and 45% indicated costs remained the same compared with the previous three years.

Ninety-nine percent (99%) of orchard owners and managers knew that Guthion was being phased out, and 54% knew that its last year of use would be 2012 (up from 35% in 2008). Forty percent (40%) knew that the phase-out would affect only the amount of Guthion a grower could use (rather than the number of applications or timing for use). Sixty-five percent (65%) said they were in the process of reducing their Guthion use, 24% had already stopped using Guthion (up from 18% in 2008), 8% were not yet reducing their use (down from 14% in 2008), and 1% had never used Guthion.

Orchard owners and managers expressed the most confidence in their knowledge of how to use of the following OP alternatives: Pheromone mating disruption, Assail, Delegate, Altacor, and Horticultural Spray Oil. Like in 2008, the greatest barriers identified to using OP alternatives were cost (65%), effectiveness (53%), secondary pest problems (42%), concerns about residues on exports (29%), and confusion over timing (24%). Nineteen percent (19%) of respondents said they did not face barriers to the use of OP alternatives.

In terms of secondary pest problems, many orchard owners and managers identified an increase in problems with wooly apple aphid (44%) and rosy apple aphid (38%), followed by stink bug (28%) and spider mite (22%).

With regards to pest monitoring and sprayer calibration, 73% of respondents reported that agricultural chemical distributor fieldmen were responsible for monitoring in their orchards, and 68% also considered themselves responsible. The biggest barriers to monitoring were lack of time (32%) and high cost (25%), while 43% said they did not face any barriers to implementing or improving monitoring. Forty-seven (47%) percent of orchard owners and managers calibrated their sprayer once a year, 19% twice a year, and 25% three times a year or more.

While most orchard owners and managers were concerned that both the costs and control of codling moth would become riskier and more difficult after the Guthion phase-out, and while many felt burdened and unconsidered with respect to the phase-out decision, they generally agreed that WSU research has developed good information on alternatives to Guthion. In addition, a majority of orchard owners and managers felt they had adequate systems for training workers on pesticide safety. Most orchard owners and managers did not feel the Guthion phase-out would particularly protect worker health or the environment, nor did they feel it was a particularly beneficial change for their operations. They also adamantly felt that training workers on health and safety should be their responsibility rather than that of an outside organization. These opinions were similar to those found in 2008.

In terms of educational resources, 42% of respondents reported using the WSU Decision Aid System (up from 37% in 2008), 21% knew about the AZM Stewardship Program run by the company MANA, 38% knew the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program provided cost-shares for IPM practices, 47% knew about the WSU Pest Management Transition Project (PMTP) (down from 53% in 2008), and 20% had participated in a PMTP-run Implementation Unit. Forty-seven percent (47%) (down from 62% in 2008) indicated that they would be interested in more training on the use of Guthion alternatives to manage pests – indicating either that this group of respondents was somewhat less interested in more training than the previous group or that many of them already knew enough about Guthion alternatives and did not see a need for more training.

The following pages present these results in more detail, in the form of aggregated orchard owner and manager responses to each question. Results are found in both table and graph formats in order to be more easily compared with 2008 grower survey data and with 2007 and 2009 consultant survey data.

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