Growing Fruits and Vegetables with Pesticides

Several members here mentioned in a previous infamous thread that they use “pesticides” in their orchards, fields, or gardens. for one or more viable reasons, including:

  • Their livelihood depends on produce or plant appearance at market
  • They are in a USDA quarantine zone that requires control of one or more pests
  • Their locality contains one or more pests that would otherwise overrun flora like lemmings
  • Their product is wholesale/retail of plants which cannot be shipped without certified pest eradication

I agree that not all pesticide users fall in the category above, and far too many of them fall into the Daffy Duck definition of despicable. :slight_smile:

Further, any farmer or gardener in the U.S. is bound by the legal definition of “pesticide” – which boils down to any means of controlling “pests”, whether the pests are plants (weeds), animals (from insects to mammals), fungal, or bacterial.

In this thread I wish to discard over-generalizations that (a) all pesticides are bad, or (b) all pesticides are horrendous chemicals. As I stated previously:

  • If you drown ants with water, then water is the pesticide.
  • If you control ants with beer, then beer is the pesticide.

And if you’re a commercial organic farmer and do either of these things on a scale greater than 0.1 acre, then you (or your contracted organic certification company) are required by law to report it. So I’m pretty sure that some folks who overgeneralize “all pesticides are bad” actually drink one on a daily basis. :slight_smile:

I have and do use pesticides for all the reasons listed above. I believe that other members on this site who do so engage in judicious, low gross environmental impact. I would enjoy hearing from others about their “pest” control methods for fruits and vegetables.

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I do use Bacillus Thurigiensis on my brassica, and iron phosphate to control slugs. But I prefer to move towards more robust plants, rather than using anything stronger than that. It is less work, healthier soil, and more nutrition (perhaps not more sugars, but definitely more minerals and vitamins). I eat forage chicory, I juice weeds, trash greens and some cover crops, and I am generally happy with leaves and roots… surely 200 years ago there were many gardeners like me.


I don’t have a problem with chemical pesticides. I figure home gardeners like me are likely to use chemicals mainly when there is an identified pest problem, rather than just as part of some commercial spray-schedule. So the amount used will be much lower in the home garden than in a commercial orchard. Plus home gardeners know exactly when things were sprayed, so can leave some extra time between last-spray and harvest. Most of the stuff in my garden does not get sprayed, but I have no problem using approved chemicals if I believe they are needed.


Commercial growers don’t generally follow a rigid schedule- they are at least supposed to follow IPM guidelines that require monitoring and spraying to target specific identified pests. In the northeast, the exception to this may be for plum curculio control which is a very consistent pest in commercial orchards, but even spraying for it would include some evaluation of the phenological development of the trees or degree days. Also, to control fire blight, brown rot, and other fungus issues, protection usually needs to be in place before the pathogen enters tissue, but this is true for home growers as well.

It is the pursuit of pristine produce without the presence of any stray insects that repels the average consumer that is mostly responsible for more frequent sprays than a home grower might need. That, and the fact that crop failure might cost the farm.

As a kind professional grower of fruit in home orchards I’m able to spray a lot less than commercial growers by offering clients apples made ugly with summer fungus, but otherwise sound. This reduces overall number of sprays by at least 50%. I also can accept some damage to stone fruit and only apply a single synthetic (Indar) fungicide spray a month before fruit ripens. A commercial grower will spray stone fruit here right up to harvest so it doesn’t start to rot after being harvested.

Even when customers want pristine apples I have managed to eliminate Cornell recommended fungicide sprays in the entire month of June. After succeeding with this schedule I read that Cornell advises that neglecting these sprays allows the summer fungus to get a foothold an destroys the efficacy of later fungicide apps. So far (after 5 or 6 years at different sites) this has not been a problem and I’ve no idea why. It inspires me to question authority, however, and do my own experimentation.

When I tell commercial spray gurus my spray input they can’t believe that it could even work, but I believe pest pressure in smaller, non-commercial orchards is less for a variety of reasons. That said, it is also possible that a savvy commercial grower could reduce spray input beyond the suggestions of the researchers. Every site is different.

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I am annoyed when people carelessly use deceptive terminology that plays on emotions. It especially grinds my gears when uesd in an attempt to market something. Its ignorant and detracts from any kind of rational discussion about making better choices for health and environment. For example, there was an local orchard advertising “Beyond Organic” and Chemical Free Fruit". In point of fact, water, air and soil are chemicals. The plant extracts the treasure map salesman talked them into using are also chemicals.


This past year for apples
Captan 50
Plastic bags with petroleum origin
–At harvest, apples were washed with chlorinated, fluoridated (but gluten free!) water.

This coming year for apples and who-knows-what-else
Captan 50
Plastic bags with petroleum origin
Actara (for PC control, I hope)
–At harvest, apples will be washed with chlorinated, fluoridated (but gluten free!) water.

I like to remind the all-natural crowd around me that poison dart frogs, poison ivy, and rattlesnakes produce all-natural, completely organic products. As well, I like to remind them that, 300 years ago, the life expectancy was around 45 years of age–but hey, the food was spray-free!


Following the rains, it has been sunny and warm here with mid-day temps in the upper 70’s – a great time for Citrus pests to move in. So I went out late this afternoon and sprayed my 7 citrus trees with a total of 1 ml of Leverage and 1 ml of Kontos SC diluted in a quart of water – then sprayed out at the rate of 4 oz per gallon.

What’s the point of spraying citrus in CA? Just for aesthetics?

I don’t do anything for my oranges, lemons, limes, kumquats, all in ground and give loads of fruit. CLM seems to be cosmetic and not effect production we have more than we can eat.

Although CLM will not attack mature leaves, they will destroy new growth. This is not a problem on established trees of desired size, but all my trees are young.

In addition to CLM, I am also dealing with thrips and ACP year-round.

The last few days I’ve noticed my Citrus is pushing out tiny new leaves, common thrips on my grapes, and insidious orange spider mites going after my vegetables and herbs. So this evening after all the bees had gone home I sprayed these three areas with Kontos and Temprid SC, using 2 ml each in a total of 10 gallons spray.

Richard do you think Kontos would damage bees that feed on the nectar of a treated plant? It might be an option for spider mites and is the first systemic for that pest.

In the first 30 days at the thrip dosage, yes.

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