Do you have a Plant Health Care (PHC) program in place for 2016? If not, this would be a good time to make the move. Going into the new year with a PHC program in place lets us attack your plants’ enemies while they are asleep. Most insects are dormant now, so, if you sign up for a PHC program now, we can take care of some pests before they wake up and others soon after they break dormancy.
More people are familiar with integrated pest management (IPM) than PHC. IPM is actually a part of PHC. A true PHC program is cradle to grave. It starts with planting the right plant in the right place. It includes cultural practices, such as pruning, and it includes IPM.
IPM simply means that we practice all control methods from picking bugs off plants by hand to applying the most sophisticated chemotherapy. When diagnosing a problem, we, and you, decide on the control regimen that will be most effective with the least environmental impact and best fits your ecological preferences.
By having a PHC program in place during the dormant season, we can begin a control program when insects are weakest (i.e. while pests are dormant, early in the season or at the beginning of a pest’s lifecycle, when they are small and vulnerable). At that time, less aggressive treatment methods can often be used. We can use treatments like horticultural oils and soaps rather than chemical pesticides.
This is a much better strategy than treating when you see the pests. When you see them, insects are usually well into their lifecycle and resistant to many of the natural controls. Our trained PHC professionals can see them, or the signs they leave, early in their lifecycle, or even when they’re dormant.
PHC can be compared to human wellness programs. Human wellness programs promote annual physicals and periodic check-ups to diagnose and treat any problems before they become serious. This often results in less aggressive treatment and more positive prognoses. Wellness care is so effective in humans that insurance companies encourage their subscribers to participate, and often waive the copay for wellness visits.
PHC is not a new concept. It has been a tool available to arborists for more than 20 years. IPM has been available to arborists and farmers even longer. Now that you know all about this wellness care for your plants, we look forward to hearing from you.