Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Apple IPM Transition Project

Survey Results

2008 Apple Grower Survey

The 2008 Washington apple grower and manager pest management survey went out in February of 2009 to survey practices used during the 2008 crop season. Returns came in during July 2009. Out of nearly 1500 orchard owners and managers recieving surveys, about 27% choose to participate representing close to 78,000 acreas. Summary results of this survey were analyzed Fall of 2009 and are now available to view online.

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 2008 growing season.

The survey was mailed in February 2009 to a 50% sample of apple orchard owners and managers (N=1,940) on a comprehensive Washington State Apple Commission list. 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 27% (403 surveys returned out of 1,458 eligible participants).

Eighty-six percent (86%) of respondents were orchard owners and 13% were hired orchard managers. Respondents represented close to 78,000 acres of apple orchards. 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 193 acres of apples, 11% of which was organic or in transition to organic, and 29% of which was managed conventionally but without use of organophosphate (OP) insecticides. Owners and managers also made pest management decisions on a mean of 32 acres of cherries, 28 acres of pears, and smaller acreages of apricots, peaches, nectarines, prunes, grapes, plums, pluots, and blueberries. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of respondents were male, and 64% were between 45 and 64 years of age. Seventy-four percent (74%) had parents who farmed during their childhood, and 82% had pursued at least some college coursework.

While codling moth was identified as the number one pest causing unacceptable crop damage in orchards (57%), leafroller and woolly apple aphid were also ranked as important (by >20% of respondents). Thirty four percent (34%) of orchard owners and managers did not have unacceptable crop damage in 2008. Twenty-five percent (25%) reported that codling moth caused unacceptable damage three years or more out of five, and 74% suggested that if no controls were applied for a year, s/he would experience 10% or more crop loss.

Most orchard owners and managers (80%) used Guthion in 2008 as part of their codling moth control program, 25% used Imidan, and 7% used Diazinon. Of these respondents, the most common numbers of applications used in 2008 were 2-3 for Guthion and 1 for Imidan and Diazinon (by about 70% of respondents). Fifty percent (50%) of respondents said their use of OPs decreased in 2008 and 40% said it stayed the same compared to the previous three years.

In terms of alternatives to OP insecticides, 65% of respondents used pheromone mating disruption, and many used Assail (54%), Horticultural spray oil (50%), or Delegate (45%) to manage codling moth. Of these, the majority (62-72%) 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-two percent (82%) of respondents reported using pheromone traps to monitor for pests, including 24% who used the recommended 1 trap per 2.5 acres and 25% 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 25% of respondents compared to the previous three years.

Overall, 57% percent of orchard owners and managers reported that codling moth injury had remained the same compared to the previous three years, 26% reported a decrease in codling moth injury, and 17% reported an increase. Seventy-six percent (76%) 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 73% 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, 59% of orchard owners and managers used Lorsban, 29% Guthion, 14% Imidan, and 5% Diazinon. Of these, respondents most commonly made one application of Lorsban, Imidan, and Diazinon (72-94%) and were evenly split among making one, two, or three 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 30% reported a decrease, 3% an increase, and 12% 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 Horticultural spray oil (48%), Delegate (41%), Success (38%), and Intrepid (32%). Of these respondents, 76-90% used one to two applications of Horticultural spray oil and one application of Delegate, Success, or Intrepid. Fifty-one percent (51%) of respondents reported levels of OP alternative insecticide use remained the same compared to the previous three years, 25% reported an increase, 12% reported a decrease, and 12% 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 17-20% of respondents compared to the previous three years. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of respondents indicated that leafroller injury had stayed the same relative to the previous three years and 26% reported a decrease. Fifty-two (52%) percent indicated costs of leafroller control had increased and 41% indicated costs had 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, while only 35% knew that its last year of use would be 2012. Forty-two (42%) percent 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, 18% had already stopped using Guthion, 14% were not yet reducing their use, 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, and Delegate. The greatest barriers identified to using OP alternatives were cost (68%), effectiveness (53%), secondary pest problems (42%), concerns about residues on exports (30%), and confusion over timing (27%). Fifteen percent (15%) 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 (31%), followed by stink bug (22%), spider mite and rust mite (both 17%), green aphid (14%) and various other secondary pests (25%).

With regards to pest monitoring and sprayer calibration, 72% of respondents reported they themselves were responsible for monitoring in the orchard, and 71% also relied on agricultural chemical distributor fieldmen for monitoring. The biggest barriers to monitoring were lack of time (40%), high cost (28%), and lack of trained staff (21%). Forty-nine (49%) percent of orchard owners and managers calibrated their sprayer once a year, 17% 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.

In terms of educational resources, 37% of respondents reported using the WSU Decision Aid System, 28% knew about the AZM Stewardship Program run by the company MANA, 37% knew the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program provided cost-shares for IPM practices, 53% knew about the WSU Pest Management Transition Project (PMTP), and 18% had participated in a PMTP-run Implementation Unit. Sixty-two percent (62%) indicated that they would be interested in more training on the use of Guthion alternatives to manage pests.

The following pages present aggregated orchard owner and manager responses to each question in both table and graph formats. Finally, responses to open-ended questions about the Guthion phase-out are reported in a separate document due to length.

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