How to Plan an Effective Spray Program for Your Grape Crop

Planning a pest control program, whether for plant disease, insects or weed control, can be a difficult task.

There’s a lot of balancing that happens:

  • What can be mixed to control several pests in one pass?
  • Which products are compatible with each other?
  • What adjuvants might be needed?
  • Are products properly rotated for pesticide management to avoid resistance development?
  • Is the program cost and time efficient?
  • Are the cultural approaches coming at the right time, etc.?

Planning a pest control program is so much easier in the winter when we all have a little more office time to consult product labels, extension guides and other production resources. There are a few who have managed to build programs on the fly as the growing season progresses, but their success is usually just luck. There is a real risk that problems such as extended spray intervals, improper timing of cultural practices and poor product rotation will occur. And while you may not feel the effects of this in one season, the effects can build up over time.

Designing programs on the fly can also lead to unnecessary chemical applications or cultural approaches. Avoiding them means saving money. I liken planning a pre-season spray program to going to the grocery store with an established shopping list. With a set list, you know how much the bill will be and you’ll get exactly what you need.

Design on the fly goes to the hungry store… without a list. At the end of these trips, the same will be accomplished – you have food. But going shopping hungry without a list usually means you go way over budget and eat potato chips for dinner. It may work for a week or two, but doing it repeatedly is unlikely to have good long-term health results.

Pre-planning usually means you can develop a pre-season management budget, which then allows you to incorporate (and prepare) “buffers” or back-up products or approaches in case disease pressure , insects or weeds of a season would be higher than expected. . It also allows you to order products that will be very important in 2022 as we continue to feel the effects of production shortages and supply chain hiccups.

Advance planning also helps discuss talking points when attending trade shows and looking at new products; you already know what and why you are making an application. You can then critically evaluate new products and approaches to determine if they could be used as substitutes in your existing program.

Successful fruit and nut growers plan their pest control programs to start the new year. They recognize that it is easier to adjust an existing program than to create one on the fly, when they are under pressure to make a quick decision. As they say, “planning” makes perfect!


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