The other day I was asked for the umpteenth time whether we practice Integrated Pest Management, or IPM for short. Of course, my short answer was, “Yes.” But, as I am apt to do, I lead quickly to the long answer. The long answer is to explain that IPM is a tool box and not a discrete practice. IPM can mean different things for different growers, and for Stone Ridge Orchard it means that we use a progressive IPM that incorporates many organic practices as well as some non-organic practices. Taking care of an older apple orchard full of pest susceptible varieties requires some reliance on older practices. So, yes, we spray. But so do organic growers, we all just do it differently. But I also do many other things that allow me to define ourselves as progressive IPMists.
In essence, running an orchard is like constructing a jigsaw puzzle. You’re working with many pieces that once connected make a picture of some sort. But with orchards, the picture is constantly evolving. It is like a 3-D puzzle that changes depending on the puzzle piece you insert and there can be different ones. For us, we’re moving a traditional-style managament system, to a progressive ecological system. Nonetheless, it is all IPM, just different styles.
This is why an uncertified IPM brand would never work: everyone would qualify. Even the most traditional growers in the world practice IPM. Likewise, your most ardent organic practitioners practice IPM. And everyone in between. the devil is in the details, as always.
For us we’re moving towards to the organic end of a sliding IPM scale to a place called Beyond Organic. We use weather monitoring, beneficial insects, pheromone monitoring traps, and lots of learned experience to help us grow our crops. As we move to disease resistant apple varieties and high density planting systems, we’ll be able to transition fully all the acreage here in Stone Ridge to certified organic. For now, we’re replacing traditional puzzle pieces with cutting edge IPM technology to help make the transition smoother when it eventually happens.
So, yes we do practice IPM, just a very special ecological version. Stop on in and see how! & say Yes to Aphids!