The new IPM strategic plan for Oregon’s nurseries identifies industry priorities for research and education
The Northwest Nursery Crop Research Center (part of the USDA- Agricultural Research Service, or USDA-ARS, Horticultural Crops Research Center) in Corvallis, Oregon recently funded the creation of the first Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategic Plan for Oregon’s ornamental nursery industry.
Integrated Pest Management Strategic Plans, or IPMSPs, are comprehensive reports that are created in collaboration with a representative regional industry working group. The group consists of producers, researchers, extension agents, crop consultants, regulators, and other relevant industry stakeholders. These reports serve as a snapshot of the current state of IPM for a given industry. Detailed information is obtained through surveys and interviews from the working group about their pest management activities throughout the year.
Stakeholders are also asked to suggest any and all critical pest management needs in research, regulation, education, and broader needs related to IPM for their industry. The finished document describes the pests, challenges, and critical needs in detail, with the intent to identify the critical IPM needs, gaps, or concerns from the stakeholders themselves: in short, what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s missing.
The published IPMSPs serve as a citable resource that indicated specifically what the industry deems necessary to improve IPM. This makes them especially helpful for people seeking grant funding support to pursue projects to address these gaps. These documents are also intended to be updated periodically (every five years, ideally) to reveal where progress has been made, where work is still needed, or what new concerns have arisen.
Oregon IPM Center (as the Integrated Plant Protection Center) at Oregon State University has been producing Pest Management Strategic Plans for the last few decades, which focused primarily on chemical management strategies for insects, weeds and diseases. These reports, created by many different groups throughout the U.S., helped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory agencies understand usage patterns of certain pesticides to aide in their decision making, such as revision to label restrictions.
Over time, non-chemical IPM strategies began to be included in the documents, which has resulted in the creation of IPMSPs to capture this information. By highlighting these practices and reviewing their efficacy, the plans can help to reduce the dependence on chemically-based pest management strategies by improving
Putting a team together
The Oregon Nursey IPMSP advisory committee consisted of Jane Lee (entomology), Jerry Weiland and Nik Grunwald (plant pathology) and Carolyn Scagel, a plant physiologist, all with USDA-ARS. The final volunteer working group consisted of seven nursery managers, five state and federal agency staff, five crop consultants and ten university faculty. The working group met via Zoom for a four-hour meeting to validate and add information collected from surveys and interviews on July 28, 2021.
For the purposes of this project, the term “ornamental nursery” broadly covered production of woody ornamental perennials, ornamental shade and fruit trees and ornamental annuals and bedding plants. This includes container and field-grown plants such as bare root or balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs in enclosed and open production systems. This project did not consider pests of propagation material for commodity crops (i.e. food or fiber crops), tissue culture, fruit and vegetable starts, mushrooms, aquatic plants, Christmas trees or industrial hemp. It was also restricted only to include the opinions of production or wholesale nurseries.
One message was clear from the surveys and interviews with production managers and consultants: Much of Oregon’s nursery industry is successfully utilizing IPM, and has been doing so for many years.
Season-long scouting and monitoring for insect pests, weeds and signs of disease is being performed at some level industry- wide. Best management practices, such as importing clean plant stock and implementing environmental controls for temperature and humidity, are being used to prevent diseases from running rampant in greenhouses.
For insect pest management, growers widely reported the use of targeted or selective chemistries (versus broad-spectrum) based on scouting and the presence of the pest.
Many nurseries have also developed robust and sophisticated biological control programs, releasing natural enemies against key pests or creating non-crop habitat to support resident populations.
For a few nurseries, natural enemies have all but eliminated the use of chemicals in some situations. Although no nurseries depended necessarily on the pollination services of bees, their presence in nursery products cannot be ignored. Many nurseries reported that they consider pollinator health when considering their pest management strategies or product choices.
Needs and opportunities
Despite the widespread adoption of many of these IPM practices, there is room for improvement. For example, although the early prevention of weeds is a best management practice, using pre-emergent herbicides (in addition to flaming) was the primary strategy for weed prevention in most cases.
Similarly, for many pathogens reported, the use of fungicides both as a preventative and as a response appeared to be the standard. Alternatives to these methods were identified as high-priority research needs, especially through the lens of avoiding the development resistance to current effective chemistries.
Additional critical research needs included IPM methods specifically for thrips management, bacterial blight management, boxwood blight, agrobacterium, and nostoc. In addition, the development of IPM tactics for new or invasive pests and pathogens (for example, Japanese beetle and spotted lanternfly) was also flagged as a top priority for research.
It is feared that the management of invasive pests will disrupt current IPM plans, as it has for many other industries in the state. Pest managers also requested the development of decision aid tools and technologies, as well as research into the potential impacts of climate change.
The working group identified several educational opportunities for the industry. Participants wanted more materials or outreach events about implementing of beneficial insects and natural enemies. They also requested more information and resources about the relationship between clean plants, scouting, sprays, and beneficial insects.
There were only a few suggestions for improvement in regulation. Participants identified clarification of label restrictions, as well as clarification on the rules on shipping and quarantine as necessary areas of improvement. They also requested simpler ways to find existing rules, restrictions, and guidelines, as the various regulatory agencies within the state and across the country may have different restrictions that could affect shipment and sales.
Many insects, weeds, and pathogens were identified as key pests for the industry. A list of problematic species can be found in the published report, along with notes about current management methods for these
As with other IPMSPs, these strategies are classified as prevention, avoidance, monitoring, or suppression, also known as the “PAMS” framework for IPM.
Publication and next steps
One of the key challenges in producing this initial IPMSP was the broad scope of nursery products that was captured in this report. Therefore, the authors recommend that future IPMSPs narrow the focus to specific production areas of the industry, and address sectors that were not covered for this project.
The IPMSP is available from Oregon State University Extension Publications (in press at the time of writing, with an expected publication in summer 2022). As this is intended as a regularly updated document, the authors encourage feedback and comments on this report, as well as participation in any future revisions.
Integrated Pest Management Strategic Plan for Ornamental Nurseries was produced by Chris Hedstrom and Isaac Sandlin of the Oregon IPM Center, with additional input from Jay W. Pscheidt, Marcelo Moretti (Oregon State University), Jerry Weiland (USDA-ARS) and Chris Benemann (Oregon Department of Agriculture). This project was funded by the Northwest Nursery Crop Research Center, USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon, with additional support from USDA-NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Program Extension Implementation Program Area (EIP).
Chris Hedstrom is the IPM Outreach and Communications Coordinator for the Oregon IPM Center at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OSU, where he sudied entomology and integrated pest management. He can be reached at 541-737-2534 or