Friday, March 21, 2008

Landscape, Turf, and Nursery - Planning for Pest Management

It is critical to develop plans for managing pests in the landscapes, nurseries, or turf areas that you manage. The following is an article on the subject.

Spring is here and that means that the potential for pest problems in landscapes, nurseries, and turfgrass could be just around the corner. Be prepared and have a plan in place to deal with problems as they arise.

Some areas to consider as we enter the season:

Cultural Practices – Often the first thought that comes to mind for any pest problem is, "What pesticide can I use for control?" However, the incorporation of cultural practices into your pest management strategy can dramatically reduce the chances for development of problems. Use cultural practices that will aid in the reduction of inocula or the improvement of spray coverage. Practices such as proper pruning, sanitation, renovation, mulching, cultivation, etc. should be an integral part of any pest management strategy where appropriate.

Sprayer and applicator maintenance – Now is the time to check the pump, hoses, filters, nozzles, etc. to be sure that everything is in good working order before your first pesticide application. Also practice routine sprayer maintenance during the season such as lubrication of bearings and cleaning and flushing of sprayer after each use. Check drop spreaders and spinner spreaders for gate slide function.

Sprayer and granular applicator calibration – Pesticides are expensive. Improper calibration can cost you money by either using an excess of material or through lack of control due to inadequate amount of pesticides applied. Calibrate your sprayers and granular applicators at the beginning of the season and at least once during the season. The sprayer or applicator should be calibrated in the landscape or field under conditions in which they will be operated.
A useful site for pesticide applicator technology with many links is at

Review your records – Depending on your crop and problem, a dormant oil spray (for management of scale, or mites) or early lime sulfur spray may be needed (e.g., for phomopsis). Hopefully you have been keeping records of pest problems during the past season(s). This is the first step in developing a management plan for the upcoming season. Review pest problems and outline IPM strategies to address these problems early. If you have not kept records concerning pest problems in your plantings then start this year.

Pest Identification – Before you can properly manage a pest situation you must correctly identify the problem. Know how to identify pests, insect injury and disease symptoms or seek assistance in identification (e.g., Cooperative Extension).

Scouting – Routine scouting should begin at bud swell and continue throughout the season on at least a weekly basis. Early detection and correction of problems is key to avoiding major losses. Subscribe to the Ornamentals Hotline to receive the most recent updates on current pests and control measures.

Pesticide Usage - Consult guides published by University extension programs in the region to determine the most effective pesticides and spray timings for your problem. Use an adequate amount of water for good coverage during spraying and adjust pH of water according to the pesticide label.

Pesticide Resistance Management – To minimize the possibility for development of pesticide resistance do not exclusively use the same pesticides or class of pesticides throughout the season. Mix up the use of chemicals for any particular problem by alternating materials and /or tank mixing.

Throughout the season continue to re-examine your IPM practices and adjust where needed. If you are not accomplishing adequate management results for a particular problem then ask yourself, Why not? A few questions to keep in mind: - Are cultural practices being used? - Is the choice of pesticides correct or the best? - Was spray coverage poor? - Was spray timing(s) incorrect? - Were spray intervals too long? - Were pesticide rates too low? - Were too few applications used?

Adapted and modified from "Plan for Successful Pest Management" by Andy Muza, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Erie County

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