Pest Management Strategic Plan Leads to Quick Action for Northwest Pears

Pears
Ripening pears.

If anybody doubts the power of grower input or a new Pest Management Strategic Plan to influence research, look no further than the “Pear Psylla Summit” at Washington State University.

The summit was planned as a direct result of a new PMSP for pears on Oregon and Washington, and the needs for Northwest growers to better manage the pear psylla. Entomologist Elizabeth Beers from WSU organized the summit.

“It’s just entomologists and focused really on just this one pest, with the understanding that management of one pest relates to others,” Beers said. “The idea is to develop a research agenda and identify specifically where we need to go with our research, then talk about which labs want to take which part of the plan.”

Controlling pear psylla while also preserving pollinators and other beneficial insects emerged as one key pest-management challenges for growers in the five pear-growing regions of Washington and Oregon. (Other pests highlighted in the report were coddling moth, mites and fire blight, and the report also stressed the need to develop dwarf pear rootstocks.)

To prepare the PMSP, Joe DeFrancesco and Katie Murray of the Oregon State Integrated Plant Protection Center conducted grower workshops in each of the areas.

“In each region, people showed up and shared their concerns,” Murray said. “They were interested in the process and seemed grateful someone was hearing their needs and concerns.”

The result of those meetings was a 99-page document that established critical needs industry-wide, and region-specific needs for each of the five growing areas, which range from the Okanogan area in north-central Washington to the Medford area of southern Oregon.

Jim McFerson, manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission which provided initial funding for the plan, said growers saw the benefits of the meetings.

“Sometimes it’s off-putting for a lot of our producers to go to one more meeting, one more strategic planning session,” he said. “But I think this process was beneficial for everybody and growers saw that strategic planning really does contribute and is not just blah-blah-blah.”

The PMSP, which the Western IPM Center also helped fund, was completed in earlier this year. McFerson said it hasn’t generated new Commission-funded research projects yet – but it will.

“I’m looking forward to the other projects that come out of this one,” he said. “We sure intend to use it, and hopefully solve a few problems.”

View the full plan here.