Integrated Pest Management

Here at Rennhack Orchards, we practice what is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is the practice of gathering information about the presence and intensity of pest activity (mainly insects and diseases), determining if that level of activity causes significant damage to the fruit or plant, and then using control measures which effectively control the pest while not harming the beneficial organisms present in the orchard. We accomplish this through the use of many sources of information and technology.

Disease Control

Diseases are our number one pest to control. We have purchased and installed on our farm a commercial weather monitoring station which gives us information about disease pressure from the environment. We combine the information from the weather station with charts and computer models to determine if weather conditions favor disease development or not, helping us to decide whether control is necessary.

Pest Control

Dave goes to educational meetings, including the MSU IPM school, to learn about the latest research being done with IPM. We use a professional pest scout who monitors our orchards weekly for insect and disease pressure, determining if the level of activity warrants control measures or not. We use what are known as "soft" chemicals on our farm, which encourage the natural insect predators to increase and let them help in the control of some insect pests. We also use what is known as pheromone disruption to reduce the need for applied chemical controls.

Pheromone Disruption

Pheromone disruption is a technique we are using on our farm. Pheromones are chemicals given off by insects as a method of communication. Research has found that certain insect pests, such as the codling moth, oriental fruit moth, greater and lesser peach tree borers, and some leafrollers can be controlled using pheromone disruption. This works by playing a trick on the male moth by saturating the orchard with the pheromone which the female gives off when she is ready to mate. This is done by tying plastic twist ties, which have the pheromone inpregnated in them, around the orchard. The pheromone slowly releases during the summer. The male flies up to these twist ties thinking it is a female. The female is in the orchard but doesn't get mated because the male doesn't find her. Without being mated, she lays no viable eggs and, therefore, no larva are infesting the fruit or tree. This technique enables us to control many of these pests without using chemicals.

IPM Research

Unfortunately, not all insect pests can be controlled this way. Research is ongoing to find new ways to control our problem pests. As new methods become economically available, we will continue to review and implement them.

We are continually trying new IPM techniques, to discover which methods are the most effective. For example, we have experimented with growing our pumpkins and squash on a rye mulch system. We planted the pumpkins in a killed, mowed rye field instead of the conventional method of planting in tilled soil. As the mowed rye decomposes, it inhibits weed seeds from germinating. It also keeps the pumpkins separated from the soil, keeping them cleaner and with less disease pressure from soil-borne disease organisms.

Our goal with IPM is to economically produce high quality fruits and vegetables while reducing pesticide use when possible. We believe we are succeeding!

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3731 W Polk Rd, Hart, MI 49420 (231) 873-7523
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