(Organic) Integrated Pest Management

Growing fruit organically is notoriously difficult because of the wide variety of pests and diseases that can cause major problems for fruit crops. We do not, and will not, use synthetic pesticides of any kind at HFF, even those allowed under organic certification standards. But that doesn't mean we are at the mercy of pests. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach we utilize at HFF for managing pests within acceptable levels (versus trying to completely eliminate them) and with the least disruption to agro-ecosystems.

Organic IPM is based on a strategy of five components:


  1. Acceptable Pest Levels: Pests only need to be economically controlled, not eradicated. If we eradicate pests, we also eliminate their predators!

  2. Prevention: Many pests and diseases can be managed by the use of "cultural practices" such as selecting resistant varieties, proper orchard floor management, removal of diseased plants, cleaning pruning shears, etc. For example, all the apple varieties we grow are resistant to the major fungal diseases in our area (cedar apple rust, fire blight, and apple scab). Also, maintaining high biodiversity on the farm is really the best preventitive thing we can do. Birds, predatory insects, spiders, toads, bats, and other beneficial buddies are always at work eating pests before they become problematic. 

  3. Monitoring: Regular monitoring of pests is of critical importance. Visual monitoring, monitoring traps, and record-keeping can all help you stay one step ahead of pests and give you time to plan how to deal with an infestation.

  4. Mechanical Control: If pests reach an unacceptable level, physically removing them is our first line of defense. 

  5. Responsible Biological Control: Our second and final line of defense is natural, biological (non-synthetic) materials - microorganisms, beneficial fungi, beneficial insects, neem, etc. Since even natural insecticides like neem and Bt can negatively affect certain beneficial insects and organisms, we have to take great care of when and how we use even natural sprays, and only use them as a last resort. There is no "responsible" use of synthetic pesticides, so we pledge not to use them - ever.

organic, apple, ipm, goldrush, disease-resistant, variety, cultivar, scab, CAR, fire blight, cedar apple rust
Parasitic wasp eggs on a caterpillar
neem, natural pesticide, tree, leaves, IPM