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Integrated Pest Management Technician

Pest management in the orchard industry is evolving rapidly, becoming information intensive, biologically based and systems oriented. In order to meet the pest-management needs of the tree fruit industry, WVC's Agriculture Department offers a short-term, intensive integrated pest management (IPM) technician certificate program. This practical, hands-on, industry-oriented program of study is designed to prepare students as pest management scouts and assistants for apple, pear and cherry IPM projects.

In a classroom and field-based setting,  students will learn to identify weeds, diseases, insect and mite pests and their natural enemies as well as learn about the life histories of these organisms. They will learn how orchards are scouted, and how this information is used to make pest-management decisions. Students in this program will also learn how to collect, tabulate and communicate pest-management information. The program stresses data collection, record keeping and the communication of monitoring information with IPM consultants, field people and orchardists.

The IPM technician program is an 18-credit certificate class that delivers 290 hours of training spread over the spring and summer quarters, coinciding with the highest levels of tree fruit pest activity. The spring quarter consists of four-hour, late-afternoon classroom lectures; five-hour, field-based labs; and four and half hours of supervised and individualized practicum implementing an IPM program in an adopted orchard every week. Summer quarter consists of six-hour, late-afternoon classroom lectures. The field-based labs and practicum stay the same as spring quarter. Classes are scheduled to detract as little time as possible from work time.

Program Guide

Suggested Course of Study: Certificate of Completion
Offered at Wenatchee campus

Spring and Summer Quarter Class Topics (100 hours of classroom instruction)

Integrated Pest Management

  • Definition of IPM
  • IPM strategies
  • Growing-degree day models
  • Pheromones for monitoring and mating disruption
  • Sampling strategies and placement of traps for insect monitoring
  • Field scouting, data collection and summary

General Entomology

  • Classification (insects and their relationship to other animals)
  • Insect anatomy/physiology/morphology

Orchard Entomology

  • Insect and mite identification
  • Biology of insect and mite pests
  • Biology of natural enemies (predators and parasitoids)
  • Population dynamics and life cycles of pests and natural enemies
  • Management strategies for pests

Orchard Pathology (Diseases)

  • Disease triangle
  • Disease organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, mycoplasms, etc.)
  • Environmentally induced diseases
  • Life cycles and phenology of diseases
  • Disease and insect and mite vector interactions
  • Common diseases of apples, pears and cherries
  • Use of models to predict disease outbreaks

Plant Science

  • Fruit tree anatomy, morphology and physiology
  • Impact of horticultural/orchard management strategies on pest and beneficial insects
  • Weed identification and biology
  • IPM terminology

Lab and Practicum Topics (50 hours of field-based instruction plus 45 hours of supervised practicum per quarter implementing an IPM program in an adopted orchard)

Insect and Mite Sampling
(hands-on and field-based workshops)

  • Field identification of insect and mite pests and natural enemies
  • Population dynamics, location and distribution of insects and mites
  • Monitoring techniques with placement and trap sampling, leaf inspection, beating trays, mite brush
  • Development of observational and record-keeping skills
  • Time management and sampling
  • Accurate data collection
  • Data collection and data summaries role in management decisions
  • Communication of information to IPM consultant, field person or orchardist
  • Professional conduct (working with clients and colleagues)
  • Technical terminology and vocabulary

Plant Development

  • Plant development and its relationship to insect and mite feeding and damage
  • Weed management based on weed identification and biology

Sampling for Diseases

  • Monitoring for common orchard diseases
  • Use of models to predict disease outbreaks
  • Environmental conditions impact on disease outbreaks