Summary: Audience "Clicker" Surveys

Perspectives of North Central Washington Apple Growers and Consultants

Angela Gadino

Department of Entomology, Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Wenaatchee, WA



Using an audience response system (often referred to as “clickers”), we surveyed attendees at several industry meetings during the winter of 2011-2012 in north central Washington. We mainly focused our analysis on those who indicated an affiliation with apple production. A total of 209 growers (includes owners, managers and lessees) and 77 consultants (includes agricultural chemical fieldmen and private consultants) participated in the surveys.

These results provide insights that can help drive the content and methods of outreach programs on biological control in orchard systems, targeted to the sometimes parallel and somtimes tangental needs of the region's apple growers and pest management consultants.


Angela at field ID session

Angela discusses monitoring natural enemies with Leo Garcia of WVC during a field ID workshop.(image by: Wendy Jones, WSU-TFREC)

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Audience Demographics

Greater than 85% of the growers and consultants are residents of the state of Washington. Participants ranged in age from 20 to 80 with the highest number of respondents between the ages of 51 and 65 years old (40% of growers; 49% of consultants).
Both growers and consultants had a range of educational experiences, where greater than 60% of the growers had either a high school or 4-year college degree and approximately 60% of consultants had a 4-year college degree. The demographics (age, education etc.) of these growers and consultants did not influence their use or knowledge of biological control.

Sources of Pest Management Information

The top two sources of information growers used in making pest management decisions were agricultural chemical fieldmen and packinghouse or warehouse fieldmen (Table 1). Consultants receive most of their information from industry-sponsored events and the WSU Decision Aid System. When asked how they would like to receive new information about biological control, the top choices for growers were in-person meetings/courses, field days and printed materials. Consultants would like to receive this information through in-person meetings/courses, website resources, and E-mail. For both growers and consultants online meetings or courses and social media were the least desired methods for receiving information about biological control (Table 2).

Table 1. Information sources used by growers and consultants in making pest management decisions.

Information Source
Agricultural chemical company fieldmen 61.7 39.0
Packinghouse or warehouse fieldmen 41.1 14.3
Industry sponsored conferences, workshops, meetings 39.2 59.7
Orchard manager-owner 21.1 5.2
Washington State University (WSU) Decision Aid System 20.6 46.8
Insecticide label information 19.1 16.9
Formal and continuing education classes 18.2 28.6
Independent consultant 11.5 7.8
University research-extension 10.5 39.0
Table 2. Preferences for recieving information about biological control.

Information Source
In person meetings/courses 56.9 59.7
Field days 48.3 42.9
Printed material 42.1 36.4
Web resources 36.4 50.6
E-mail 31.1 46.8
Online meetings/courses 11.5 10.4
Social media 1.4 1.3
Other 2.9 0
Use of Biological Control in Orchards

Overall, 72% of growers and 94% of consultants responded that they used biological control practices as part of their pest management programs. The practices used most by growers and consultants to increase biological control in orchards were employing mating disruption and selecting insecticides that do not harm natural enemies (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Grower and consultant practices used to increase (enhance) biological control in orchards.

figure 1

The practice used the least by both groups was the release of commercially produced natural enemies. Relatively few participants, 10% of growers and 8% of consultants, responded that they did not use biological control in their orchards. Both growers and consultants thought that the two biggest barriers to using biological control were 1) lower effectiveness than chemical controls and 2) lack of time to monitor for natural enemies (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Growers' ad consultants' opinions on the biggest barriers to using biological control.

figure 2
Knowledge of Pest Management and Biological Control

Greater than 70% of respondents (growers and consultants) believed that they knew of insecticides that were safe to natural enemies. The top five pesticides (not listed in ranked order) considered most harmful to natural enemies by both groups were Carzol, Guthion, Warrior, Delegate, and Assail (Figure 3). The top two pesticides selected by growers were Guthion (80%) and Carzol (61%) while the majority of consultants selected Warrior (78%) and Carzol (73%).

Both growers and consultants were able to identify pests that were most likely to be controlled by natural enemies in the orchard. The two pests selected by the majority of respondents were aphids and spider mites (Figures 4 and 5). Many growers and consultants also selected leafminers and leafrollers as likely to be controlled by natural enemies. Only a small percentage from each group replied that they did not know which pests from the list provided.

Figure 3. Grower and consultant selection of insecticides thought to be most harmful to natural enemies.

figure 3

Figure 4. Consultant selections for orchard pests most likely controlled by natural enemies.

figure 4

Figure 5. Grower selections for orchard pests most likely controlled by natural enemies.

figure 5


This research is supported by grant #2008-04854 from USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program. Matching funds were also provided by Washington State University, Oregon State University, University of California-Berkeley and the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission.


Investigator Links Useful Links
Vince Jones Jessica Goldberger WSU DAS UCIPM
Elizabeth Beers Dave Horton WSU-TFREC BC Information Ctr.
Jay Brunner Nick Mills USDA-ARS Wapato WSU PMTP
Steve Castagnoli Peter Shearer OSU-MCAREC Orchard Pest Management
Karina Gallardo Tom Unruh ESPM WA Crop Protection Guide