Sunwest Fruit Co., Fresno County

Sunwest Fruit Co., a privately owned grower/packer/shipper of stone fruit and critrus based in Parlier, uses a variety of innovative IPM practices. The company grew the first citrus and stone fruit certified by Protected Harvest, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable agricultural practices, and sold under Zeal, an eco-label targeting socially and environmentally conscious consumers.

Sunwest has eliminated the use of simazine, diuron and other herbicides known to contaminate ground and surface water. It allows native vegetation to grow between trees, which reduces erosion and soil compaction and increases organic matter in the soil. Other practices include modifying tractors and adding enclosed cabs with carbon air filters to reduce applicator exposure and provide a safer, more comfortable work environment.

The company traps red scale insects, tracks their populations with global positioning system mapping and partnered with Agrian, a Fresno-based software firm, to develop an iPad application to capture the data. It uses pheromone disruption for pests in stone fruit using dispensers known as puffers and installed bio-filters in the Tivy Creek watershed to filter runoff and prevent pesticides and other pollutants from entering the creek.

Sunwest and its partner, Fresh Sense, received an Innovator Award in 2008 for building the market for sustainably produced fruit and motivating growers to adopt more environmentally friendly pest management practices. Sunwest is being recognized this time for its individual contributions to reduce pesticide use. More information is available at www.sunwestfruit.com or by contacting Greg Thonesen, ranch manager, at gregt@sunwestfruit.com or 559/318-0280.

More information about IPM Innovator Awards and previous winners is posted at http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pestmgt/ipminov/innovatr.htm.