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With decimation of government extension services, growers have fewer resources to help them deal with the new pests arriving every year, and even research into management of new pests is being curtailed. Luckily, that’s less of a problem in the U.S., notes Philip, so Canadian growers can often benefit from work that’s being done south of the border.


However, another issue growers will face in the coming years on the pest management front is climate warming, which will see new pests able to survive and thrive here when in the past they were only able to live in warmer climates. If they come from the U.S., often there are already management techniques that have been tested there, but if they come from overseas, that’s often not the case. “In some instances, we have to decide whether to protect our native insects or whether to bring in predators which may harm natives, in order to protect crops,” Philip explains. Pressure from invasives won’t ease up, he predicts, and unfortunately, there are fewer people researching these new pests too.


“Pests are sneaky, especially if you’re not on the lookout for their arrival. With global transportation of people, goods and services, we’re bringing in more alien invasives all the time.” Another enormous change during the years Philip has been helping local growers manage their pests is transformation of the farm landscape with a move to smaller fruit trees planted in higher densities.


Gone is the spreading canopy of the old apple tree—replaced today with a spindle of twisted, unnatural branches growing in a manner that looks similar to a vineyard to the casual observer, rather than an orchard.


“They’ve changed the landscape with 2,000 to 3,000 trees per acre, but growers have tripled their yields. A lot of new techniques are required to grow them successfully,” Philip says. For instance, there’s a steep learning curve for growers who find they need different sprayers with the lower, smaller canopy, which is also only a half-metre to one metre thick. Application techniques have changed too. “That should make it easier to get good coverage with a spray, but with the new chemistries, you can’t just slop it on. Most of the new products have to be chewed or sucked in by insects. They don’t just kill on contact,” he warns. As well, the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency policy now is to use the lowest possible dosage for adequate control, so there are restrictions on the quantity to use. Many of the new chemicals degrade faster too, which means growers need to be more precise with timing and application rates, as well as with application techniques, he notes. BIO-PESTICIDES


Another change Philip has been instrumental in achieving is a move to such bio-pesticides as bt or btk (Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki).


“I convinced many growers to try using bt, and began helping them to see alternatives that worked,” recalls Philip. Also among the first initiatives he was involved with, in his new post in the Okanagan, was the SIR program, and getting it up and running.


He’s gratified now to see agriculture industries in countries around the world looking at the success of the use of sterile insect technology (SIT) in the Okanagan for codling moth control. Many other countries are now looking at adopting it. That includes agricultural industries in France, Italy and Germany, which are looking at moving to SIT now, and New Zealand, which is already purchasing excess sterile moths from the SIR production facility in Osoyoos to get a similar program


8 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2018


going in that country.


As well, adjacent Washington State is now interested in adopting the program. Philip notes they are finding their program of using mating disruption alone to control the codling moth in pomme fruits is not doing an adequate job. Mating disruption was another option developed to help


growers deal with pests: producing a sex pheromone to act as a lure, drawing insects into a trap so populations can be monitored, and also used to confuse insects looking to mate so they are unsuccessful.


“The SIR program is being recognized around the world as a success story in controlling pests without the use of chemical sprays,” he notes.


A byproduct of the program is that today there is a sound administrative and operational structure to deliver area-wide IPM services for other tree fruit and grape pests as well as the codling moth, he noted.


Ironically, he says there are still growers who feel the program should be dis-banded, yet there’s a perfect example of how quickly the pest moves back into a region once it stops using SIT in the Creston Valley, where taxpayers opted out of the program some years ago.


It’s partly due to the success of the SIR program and other alternatives to chemical pesticides that organic agriculture in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys has grown so much over the years. He estimates it has grown to eight times what it was when he first began working in the valley and even more growers are looking seriously at growing organically. He has lots of great memories of working with growers to help them solve pest problems, and with colleagues working on behalf of growers, and now he’s looking forward to enjoying a bit of yard work, reading more and putting together the occasional jigsaw puzzle.


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