WATCHOUT in the Orchard
So, you got through flowering ok and now have a crop to worry about? Try the WATCHOUT acronym to help you focus on being proactive and pre-emptive.
Weather dominates pest, disease, and biocontrol agent activity and control options so keep informed of possible changes in weather and the probable impact of those changes
Actions must be based on current and expected impacts of weather on pests, diseases, biocontrol agents and control options
Test the availability and logistics of at least two control options to give yourself flexibility to deal with worst case scenarios by having Plan A and Plan B ready in advance
Communicate your plans, orders and thresholds with your staff, service providers, and pest scouts.
Hazards that could affect your ability to implement your response plans should be identified and actions taken to reduce risks before you need to implement response plans. For example, can you operate the tractor that normally tows your sprayer on slopes after rain? If not, what are your options?
Observe more than just the trees you select for monitoring. Situational awareness only comes from observing what is happening around you and to you, your orchard and its inhabitants.
Understand the lifecycles of the “good” and “bad” organisms in your orchard ecosystem and how your management decisions may impact on not just the target of your control tactics but the side effects on organisms that are controlling other pests in the system. Make sure that your staff also understand your directives, what you are trying to achieve, and why.
Think clearly and calmly while developing and documenting your action plans, then be alert and act with confidence and decisiveness before the situation becomes critical