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Pest Scouting With Your Smartphone

Posted: May 24, 2017

Have you noticed lately that many interstate rest stops are now called text stops? While the ever growing ubiquity of the smartphone has come with some issues, there are many opportunities to use this technology to make our lives a little easier, even on the farm.
Photo: Norma Young, Penn State

Photo: Norma Young, Penn State

Pest scouting is an important part of any farm operation. To manage a crop, whether it is fruit, vegetables, or row crops, we have to be out looking at the plants regularly to see what condition they are in. Scouting can sometimes be a challenge. Occasionally you might see an insect or a disease symptom you don’t recognize, or maybe you aren’t certain of the best way to set up a scouting routine, or how to keep good records of what you find in the field. Luckily, you are not alone, and there are a number of programs to help make this easier!

If you need help identifying diseases on your fruit, MyIPM is a series of apps to help identify and manage common fruit pests and diseases. It was developed by Clemson University, in collaboration with Penn State and other land grant universities. One app includes diseases commonly found in Northeastern apple, pear, cherry, and cranberry production systems. In addition to containing diagnostic tools to help you determine what you are seeing in your block, the app describes the causal agents of the disease, and their various control tactics. For chemical controls, the app includes relevant information, including: active ingredients, rate per acre, REI, and PHI.

In addition to knowing what you are seeing, it is important to have a good scouting plan, and a good way to keep records of what you are finding so you can better manage any potential issues you find in the field. The Penn State Tree Fruit team has recently released a mobile scouting spreadsheet to help plan your apple scouting procedure, and to help you keep track of what you are seeing in the field. The app provides simplified instructions on how to scout your orchard block, including which parts of the tree to be looking at for each pest. The instructions tab also includes links to tables describing which pests and diseases you should be looking for at different crop growth stages, and also links to articles on pest trapping and disease forecasting. From there, you can enter your counts onto the spreadsheet. The sheet will automatically calculate your block averages from the trees you scouted, and results will also automatically copy over to a summary sheet. On this page you can view your entire insect, disease, and weed averages for your block to help you determine your management strategy.

The spreadsheet can be linked between multiple devices, so it can easily be shared between different people on your farm. Your reports can also be sent between your phone and computer in real time, so you can save it on your computer in an excel sheet for your records. The spreadsheet is currently being actively tested, and the Tree Fruit Team welcomes any suggestions. While designed for apple scouting, the spreadsheet is based in excel, and can also be easily modified for other crops.

If you would like to demo the mobile spreadsheet, email mxb1072@psu.edu for a copy. If you would like a paper copy, email or call 717-334-6271 to request a paper form.

Contact Information

Mike Basedow
  • Extension Educator, Tree Fruit
Phone: 717-334-6271 x331