Pennsylvania fruit growers have found there's strength in numbers when it comes to using integrated pest management against worm pests.

In Snyder County, for example, growers with 11 orchards are working under a Penn State University apple worm monitoring program, according to a university news release. The project's goal is to develop growers' insect-monitoring skills to help them reduce pesticide costs and to prevent rejection of apple loads at central Pennsylvania fruit processors.

"We're educating growers about IPM programs that reduce the use of older, more toxic insecticides and replace them less-toxic versions," says Jeff Mizer, Penn State Extension educator in Snyder County. "We also use pheromones in traps, which disrupt mating in several types of moth pests."

The idea behind mating disruption is to inundate an area with female insect scent. The male becomes confused and can't find a fertile female with which to mate. If females don't mate, they won't lay eggs.

Growers in the program use trap count information to make decisions on about 225 acres.

"Collectively, they were able to save more than $4,250 on insecticide costs and over $550, approximately $17 per acre in just one growing season," Mizer says. "Four growers estimate that the knowledge gleaned enabled them to change pesticide application practices strategically enough to avert financial losses due to apple worm damage. The estimated monetary savings for these four growers alone amounted to over $6,750."

Technical and administrative support is provided by Greg Krawczyk, senior research associate at Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville.

Cooperators report the weekly monitoring data to Krawczyk, which is published in the Fruit Times monthly newsletter and distributed to the growers in the central Susquehanna Valley.

Through this insect monitoring program, fruit growers have become aware that different orchard blocks have different pest pressure levels. Armed with the trap data, they can watch the problem blocks more carefully.

The project is also being supported by the Degenstein Foundation, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, Knouse Foods Cooperative, the Central Pennsylvania Fruit Growers Association and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

For information about the project, contact Mizer at (570) 837 4254 or e-mail
The Pennsylvania IPM program is a collaboration between Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. For information, contact the program at (814) 865-2839 or at

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