Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Good Scout

In our previous article we discussed the history of pest management on landscapes and how it has evolved over time into I.P.M. Integrated pest management is the combination of cultural controls, like pruning and fertilization, with tree pest and disease control when necessary. This may sound contradictory but it is not, not all pests are at levels that impact the tree and not all diseases significantly impact the health of the plant or its utility in the landscape. Knowing the level of insect and disease pressure on a plant is complicated but always starts with identification. Both the plant and the problem must be correctly identified before the extent of the problem and the necessity of treatment are determined.
The key to identification is having a good scout, you must walk the property identify the trees and shrubs present and know the likely insects and diseases that may impact the landscape. Knowing each and every plant and disease is not possible as insects, diseases and the palate of plants in the landscape are infinitely variable.  Well, we as tree people and gardeners would like to think so, but sadly the variability is somewhat limited.
The scouted landscape patrol puts a qualified technician on your property armed with the tools of his trade, a keen knowledge of plants and there problems, and a variety of solutions to any issues he may encounter. Once the property has been scouted and the pest and disease problems have been recorded on a form or journal, the specialist goes to work correcting them. This may take the form of a spray or root zone injection or it could be a simple as cutting a nest of ugly caterpillars from your cherry tree and correctly disposing of them. Additional cultural treatments could include the removal of a circled root that threatens to strangle your maple or a suggestion that you relocate a sun loving lilac to a spot that is more open. Given the history of the property, kept in the treatment journal or in a file where the scouting reports are saved, the specialist may perform proactive preventative treatments. This may prevent issues that will occur several seasons in the future. For example, spider mites may be controlled in the spring when their population is low and before they cause premature defoliation of your burning bush in the fall. A simple application of horticultural oil at the right time on the right plant can prevent failures in the landscape in the future. By correctly limiting the amount and timing of applications you limit the number of applications that are necessary to catch up later. Reducing the extent and number of applications in your landscape is not only environmentally sound it’s economically sensible.
 Your I.S.A. Certified Arborist is up to date on the latest research and can plan and execute your scouted plant health care program with modern scientific techniques.