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Increasing nut crop acreage expands need for integrated pest management training

The Issue

Due to the economics involved in agriculture, the southern San Joaquin Valley has seen significant expansions in the acreage of almonds and pistachios. As of the late 2000s, the value of these two crops in Kern, Kings and Tulare counties approaches $1 billion annually. Along with the increase in acreage has come the need for additional pest control advisers to make decisions regarding the management of insects, diseases and weeds. It is imperative that this new generation of advisers be versed in integrated pest management practices that are safe, effective, affordable and respectful of the environment.

What Has ANR Done?

During 2008, UC farm advisors David Haviland of Kern County and Bob Beede of Kings County, held five field meetings related to the management of three key nut crop pests: spider mites, navel orangeworm and Gill's mealybug. The trainings provided almond and pistachio pest control advisers with a chance to participate while integrated pest management practices were demonstrated in the field. Practices included methods for maximizing biological control, proper pest sampling techniques, alternative control strategies to those involving pesticides, and how to use pesticides judiciously when they are required. The goal was to improve participants' familiarity with these practices such that they could incorporate them into their daily practices, allowing them to manage pests effectively while minimizing negative impacts to the environment.

The Payoff

Pest control advisers adopting integrated pest management practices

To measure their success, at the end of the growing season the researchers sent surveys to the participants of the field meetings. The 40 percent of the attendees who responded to the anonymous survey stated that information from the meetings was routinely considered when making pest management decisions by individuals that influence 161,750 acres of tree nut crops. The same respondents reported that information was routinely used to improve the practices of pest control advisers that influence 83,750 acres of nut crops. This constitutes an improvement in the use of safe and effective pest management practices that minimize environmental impacts on nut crop acreage that produces approximately $500 million in agricultural products annually.


Supporting Unit: Kern County

David Haviland, (661) 868-6215, dhaviland@ucdavis.edu