Weed Management in Orchards and Vineyards is the newest online continuing education course to be offered by Western Farm Press.

Sponsored by BASF, it is available free 24/7 at the westernfarmpress.com and pentonag.com.

More than 40 licensed professionals completed the course the first three weeks in July, the first month it was available, according to Harry Cline, Western Farm Press editor and director of the Farm Press CEU program.

It is accredited for 1.5 hours by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Arizona Department of Agriculture and the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program.

California DPR accreditation covers all licensing categories, including Pest Control Advisers, Qualified Applicators, County Private Applicators/Permit Holders and Aerial Applicators.

The course information was developed with the cooperation of the University of California IPM program. Brad Hanson, University of California, Davis weed specialist; Curtis Rainbolt, BASF tech service representative; and Bill Nairn, business representative for BASF agricultural products and nutrition in California, also provided expert review of the material.

This is the first Farm Press/Penton Ag online course sponsored by BASF.

“We appreciate the support of Larry Wanken, district manager for BASF in California, as well as Bill Nain in making this course possible,” says Greg Frey, Western Farm Press publisher.” They supported and endorsed this course from the very beginning.”

Doug Haller, BASF marketing associate for herbicides, also was key in developing and launching the course.

“PCAs and qualified applicators are the key licensed professionals who make diversified agriculture in California so successful,” says Wanken. “BASF is pleased to provide this extensive course on weed management in orchards and vineyards to help growers and their consultants do the best job possible in controlling unwanted vegetation.

“We know everyone is busy, and we hope this course will provide not only valuable weed management information, but time-saving, easy access to continuing education credit required by the state of California.”

“Integrated weed management involves the use of cultural, mechanical and chemical methods to manage weed populations in a manner that is economically and environmentally sound,” says Nairn, a long-time California PCA.

One of the key elements is a weed survey conducted two or three times a year to monitor the weed spectrum. This is covered in the course.

Specialists cite the following steps in conducting a weed survey:

• After first rains occur, look for winter annuals in tree rows to check the effectiveness of any pre-emergence herbicide applications.

• Check the ground cover in row middles for perennial seedlings. Perennials are unwanted in any area of the orchard.

• Use a checklist to record weeds in the orchard and use an orchard map to show the areas in which specific problem weeds are found.

• Rate the level of infestation, either using a numeric scale from 1 to 5 (1 being lightest), or use “light,” “medium,” or “heavy” descriptions. Use the rating to determine the severity of infestation and the type and amount of herbicides to use.

After logging into the course, users review the information and then take a quiz. A score of at least 80 is required to earn credit hours.

There is a feature that allows a licensed professional to download the course and quiz for review offline — however, the test must be taken online in order to earn credit.

Farm Press/Penton Media will notify the accrediting state agencies or CCA administrators of each person who successfully passes the course.

Farm Press has been offering online courses for six years, and 24 courses are now available online.

To date, about 26,000 courses have been completed for credit.