Since seasons dictate most farm activity, peach growers who have problems with agricultural pests look for advice on what time of year to monitor and time treatments to control them. If they consult the year-round Integrated Pest Management program for peaches, they’ll find effective and environmentally sound ways to manage pests in their crops.

The University of California Statewide IPM Program created the year-round programs to help growers avoid water quality problems related to pesticide use. The programs, accompanied by the pest management guidelines, make up UC’s “Best Management Practices” for managing pests and protecting the environment. The USDA National Resources Conservation Service is also using the programs as guidelines for funding pest management components of NRCS conservation plans.

Each year-round program recommends specific activities for each season, with links that provide information on how to monitor, forms to use, and specific management practices. Progress throughout the year is tracked on an annual checklist form.

Kulwant Johl, Pest Control Adviser for John Taylor Fertilizer in Stockton, heard by word-of-mouth about the year-round program for peaches featured on the UC Statewide IPM Program Web site. (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/)

“The program’s really useful,” he says. “It allows me to check orchards year-round, not just in the summer. During the fall, I check the Web site for San Jose scale, aphids, peach twig borer and mites. It helps me to make decisions as to whether an orchard needs chemical applications, or not. I would definitely recommend it.”

Paul Posson, engineering technician for 16 years with the Turlock Irrigation District, invited UC IPM advisor Pete Goodell to his annual grower meeting to give a presentation about the UC year-round IPM program for almonds. The meeting drew 80 growers, and participants gave it a favorable response.

Nearly 5,800 growers accounting for 150,000 acres of land receive TID irrigation water through 250 miles of canals.

“With the IPM program, you follow your crop, find the pest, look at the recommended pesticides and their effect on water,” says Posson. “There’s a lot of interest in water quality with the ag waiver. If it can improve water quality, it’s a huge benefit to everyone.”

Developed for specific crops, annual IPM checklists guide farmers through a year of monitoring pests, making management decisions, and planning for the following season. These year-round IPM programs also outline practices that don’t deteriorate our water through runoff or spraying during runoff.

Gary Van Sickle, research director for the California Tree Fruit Agreement, an organization that represents marketing efforts for California’s 2,000 fresh peach, plum, and nectarine farmers, finds the program a time saver.

“Since the year-round program for peaches was just released, there’s not much data on its use in the field yet, although informally, we had some growers in the industry use the practices, and they found them to be quite useful,” Van Sickle says. “When you compare on paper a year-round IPM program for crops versus the old practice of using pest guides where you had to look up practices for a specific pest, the year-round program is more logical and is how the grower sees it. You’re looking more at the big picture. You think, OK, it’s winter, and these are the pests I need to be aware of. Then you can quickly focus on individual potential problems.”

See the UC IPM Web site at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/ for year-round IPM programs for prunes, almonds, cotton and peaches. Click on “How to Manage Pests: Agriculture” periodically to see what new crops have been added to the list.