Awareness of the benefits of integrated pest management (IPM) are moving further along the vegetable production and distribution value chain. In fact, one leading processor association — the Midwest Food Processors Association (MWFPA) — has begun to offer the book/CD combination Vegetable Insect Management (Second Edition), with its core IPM message, as a member benefit in 2008.
IPM: Now More Than Ever
For many vegetable growers, food processing companies are important customers. Processors are often able to contract to buy a grower’s entire output, simplifying the grower’s marketing decisions. Like any other customer, processors have specific needs and expectations, says MWFPA president/executive director Nick George.
“The SYSCOs and Wal-Marts of the world are trying to be greener,” says George by way of explanation. “They want the processors who sell to them to work closely with growers to document the processes and products they use.
“So the trend now is to take a harder look at everything. There’s a lot of pressure on processors to be greener, and that puts them in a tough spot. They’re charged with their customers to bring in a good quality product at a competitive price. At the same time, they’re under pressure to be greener, too. Those two things are not necessarily compatible.
“That’s what makes practices like those outlined in Vegetable Insect Management important for both growers and processors.”
The IPM Authority
Price competition means that growers and processors must control costs. Vegetable Insect Management can enable growers to do just that: control production costs by limiting insect treatments to the times and places when treatment will actually do some good. Growers save on short-term fuel, insecticide, and labor costs, while saving long-term in reduced field compaction.
The key concept is the Treatment Window. Every crop has a window in which it is vulnerable to pest damage. At certain times of the growing season, there might be pests in the field in sufficient numbers to pose an economic threat. Only when that number of pests coincides with a “window of vulnerability” for the crop, though, is treatment warranted. Otherwise, it’s an unnecessary expenditure of labor and capital.
Vegetable Insect Management offers Treatment Window information for 13 major vegetable crops, and in addition provides information about insect migration via low-level jet streams, plus other emerging topics. The IPM philosophies and practices introduced make it a top-notch companion to any good production manual, as well as an indispensable resource for today’s professional grower, independent consultant, or Extension advisor.