Who can scout for pests? Anyone!

Trained workers, staff or family members can save you time and money by helping to monitor pest levels in your Christmas tree or nursery fields.

Christmas tree and nursery growers face several challenges in growing healthy trees. Often one of the largest challenges is controlling insects and diseases. By using integrated pest management (IPM) methods, you can keep pests and damage to a minimal level with the smallest cost to the tree health, the environment and your budget.

Scouting supplies
Common scouting supplies: clipboard to take notes, scouting boards,
pruners, hand lens and bags to collect samples. Photo credit: Jill O’Donnell, MSUE

One key problem is improper timing of pesticide applications. This can be avoided by scouting your fields during the growing season which provides growers with an accurate picture of the pest situation. Regular, weekly scouting of your trees helps find signs or symptoms of pest activity before they become a problem and can help you target the correct life stage. By inspecting your trees, noting the stage of development and evaluating the level of infestation or infection, you can create an individualized, accurate, timely and more effective plan of action.

Sampling for spruce spider mites. Photo credit: Jill O’Donnell, MSUE

This monitoring can be done by a trained farm employee, family member or a professional scout. The Michigan State University Extension 2013 IPM Academy offers an opportunity to learn about key conifer and deciduous woody ornamental pests. The Academy is designed to assist newcomers to pest management, but can be a valuable review for growers, nurserymen, gardeners or landscapers looking to brush up their IPM skills or bring new farm workers up to speed.

The IPM Academy will be held on Feb. 19-20 at the Okemos Conference Center  in Okemos, Mich. (just outside of East Lansing, Mich.). Read more information on the sessions and how to register.

The cost of this event is $225 per person. Please note that snacks, lunch and parking are included. Lodging is not included, but special rates are available. Registration is open through Feb. 12, but space is limited so register today.

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