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Busy horticultural crop monitoring season underway

Busy horticultural crop monitoring season underway

Busy horticultural crop monitoring season underway

Fruitfed Supplies Crop Monitors are hard at work all over New Zealand at this time of year, looking for pests, diseases and beneficial insects. The data they collect is sent to growers the same day to provide an accurate picture of changing pest and disease pressures, and help make timely decisions about any necessary protection measures.

For Gisborne citrus grower James Williams, a comprehensive crop monitoring service is vital across all citrus varieties, especially Meyer lemons.

James explains: “This lemon variety is susceptible to Kelly’s citrus thrips and accurate crop monitoring is essential to us getting a high export percentage of our crop. We have monitoring scheduled every two weeks and in the high-risk season, mid-November to mid-January, step up to weekly monitoring.”

James regards crop monitoring as equally important as the product recommendations provided by their Fruitfed Supplies Representative. “The timing of discovering those pests and how best to manage them go hand in hand. It’s also important to be looking after beneficial insects, so having accurate data on the reports received promptly on the same day is vital for our decision making, especially when numbers are climbing rapidly during early summer. We can assess thresholds for each pest for spray decisions. The faster we get that information, the quicker we can treat the issue and the better our crop quality will be at harvest.”

James and his wife Christina own Sherwood Agriculture and Williams Brothers Citrus with 100 ha of citrus in production. Crop monitoring is outsourced to Fruitfed Supplies due to the reliability and training of Fruitfed’s Monitoring Scouts. “They’re also monitoring many orchards in the region so have a greater understanding what to look for. They see those regional trends for something like whitefly hatch starting, so we know to keep an eye out.”

Bay of Plenty avocado grower Maxine Graham echoes James’ comments about the reliability of Fruitfed Supplies’ Crop Monitors. “We do fortnightly monitoring with Fruitfed. They’re reliable and come when they say they are going to come. I prefer an outside service because they’re independent. I’ve heard too many instances of people doing their own crop monitoring who see what they want to see in their orchard. With a third party, the Scouts know what they’re seeing.”

Scott Harvey, Agronomist for A.S. Wilcox & Sons Ltd, makes use of regular crop monitoring by Fruitfed Supplies Monitors for both onions and potatoes.

“It’s good to have regular, weekly reporting and information to make active decisions, rather than relying on retrospective information,” Scott says. “Weekly data builds up a picture of how things are tracking. The more data points you add, the better the information you have to see trends and make decisions.”

Scott notes that they have found it’s important to start monitoring early in the main growing season. “In the last couple of seasons, we’ve noticed that some information hasn’t matched what we thought would happen in some blocks. Having that monitoring information was valuable as we possibly wouldn’t have focused our attention on those areas where we ended up having higher pressures and risk profiles than expected. With the data, you’re out in front of things, being proactive rather than reactive.”

Scott participates in the Pukekohe grower group working with Daniel Sutton, Fruitfed Supplies’ Technical Specialist for vegetable crops, to share anonymous regional data for two pests. “Using the monitoring data for potato tuber moth and the tomato potato psyllid, we could see where pest numbers were building up around the region. There was certainly value in this data sharing and we’re participating again this season.”

In Hawke’s Bay, Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative, Gary Speers oversees a considerable area of pipfruit orchards.

“With our Crop Monitors regularly monitoring orchards, I can hone in on any issues to decide a strategy with the grower,” Gary says. “I follow the pest and disease trends so we can be ready for a particular threshold where needed.”

Gary also notes that the independence of Fruitfed’s monitoring services is of value for growers when dealing with certain export markets.

More information about Fruitfed Supplies’ Crop Monitoring services is available by contacting your local Fruitfed Supplies Representative or store.