Naturipe: Integrated Pest Management of California Strawberries
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5Ps Verified Case Study: Pest Management
Naturipe practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM)—an effective and environmentally sound approach to pest management—as a matter of company policy. For more than thirty years, Naturipe has advanced its IPM program to enhance pests’ natural enemies and reduce pesticide use in managing Lygus bug, a major pest for California strawberries. SureHarvest documented and verified this Lygus bug IPM program using the 5Ps of Sustainability.™
Naturipe has a long-standing, highly refined IPM program for Lygus bug. From field operations to executive management, the company marries up-to-date science with on-farm realities in its California strawberry operations. Naturipe has established itself as an industry leader in Lygus bug IPM and is well positioned to continuously improve its pest management program.
Naturipe allows the natural ecosystem to help keep Lygus bug in check by enhancing natural habitat and promoting beneficial plants around its farms. The company consistently finds that its IPM program substantially reduces pest populations and crop damage. Naturipe knows that proper implementation of its IPM program for Lygus bug results in fewer resistance problems, less overall pesticide use, and more high-quality fruit.
1. Sustainability Principles
Naturipe strawberries are grown with a company commitment to:
- Provide consumers a healthy, enjoyable eating experience
- Create an enjoyable work environment that allows employees to achieve their full potential
- Operate in a legal, ethical and socially responsible manner
2. Sustainability Processes
Naturipe is committed to using IPM in its farming operations to economically manage pests with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. Naturipe realizes the importance of its IPM program to manage Lygus bug, a serious pest in the company’s main strawberry growing regions in California. For more than three decades, Naturipe has been dedicated to IPM and supporting industry- wide research and education efforts.
3. Sustainability Practices
As part of its IPM program, Naturipe uses a suite of practices including: weekly field sampling for Lygus bugs; establishing action thresholds; protecting natural habitat surrounding cropland; weed-host control; utilizing non-spray methods such as bug vacuums when effective; and carefully selecting and timing necessary pesticide applications for optimal efficacy. Naturipe walks the fields frequently to observe first-hand if Lygus bug and others pests are causing damage to the plants and fruit.
The company has highly trained, certified field and management team members who remain up-to-date on the latest research in IPM methods. Central to its program is participation in industry and university IPM research trials. The basic research is then taken and adapted to meet the site-specific conditions at each company farm. In addition to managing its own 1,500 acres using IPM, Naturipe meets regularly with its third-party growers to conduct trainings and encourage information sharing within its growing community.
4. Sustainability Performance
Naturipe’s metric for success of its IPM program is documenting that the protocols are put in place and properly followed. Research and experience shows that regardless of what Lygus bug populations or fruit damage might have occurred in any given year, the results would have been worse if the protocols had not been applied.
Naturipe carefully tracks and complies field data into a spreadsheet to chart Lygus bug populations throughout the season. To monitor and evaluate its in-house and third-party grower IPM programs, the company collects pesticide use reports, conducts monthly random pesticide residue tests, and adheres to a strict fruit grading system.
5. Sustainability Progress
Naturipe conducts internal trainings for field crews and requires that key personnel attend external trainings on IPM methods for California strawberries. The strawberry IPM team is in constant communication about pest pressures and other variables to insure that proper methods are used to manage Lygus bug populations. Each winter, farm-level group meetings are held to recount the prior season and make plans and adjustments for the next season.
As a key component of Naturipe’s commitment to social responsibility and continual improvement, the Board of Directors develops an annual business plan that includes its social responsibility priorities, and meets quarterly to evaluate progress. Upper management team members tie their annual work plans and compensation directly to these strategic goals. Naturipe holds meetings at all levels in the company during the year to consider progress within its California strawberry operations toward the company’s strategic goals. Each fall, a large group of Naturipe district and country representatives come together to evaluate and refine their strategies for strawberry operations.