Enhancing Sustainability of Small Fruit Production in the Pacific Northwest Through Educating Producers on Consensus-derived Scouting and Decision-making Parameters

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $170,929.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Craig MacConnell
Washington State University
Colleen Burrows
WSU Whatcom County Extension

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (brambles)


  • Crop Production: fallow
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, study circle
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, competition, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mating disruption, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, precision herbicide use, prevention, sanitation, smother crops, soil solarization, trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology, weeder geese/poultry
  • Soil Management: composting


    Small fruits are a high value commodity in Oregon and Washington with a production value of $160 million. A Scouting Toolbox has been created for small fruits including consensus derived decision-making parameters to guide treatments and reduce risk. The toolbox was widely disseminated to producers through the region’s commodity commissions and at various educational events. The short-term outcome is the adoption of consensus based IPM scouting and decision-making thresholds by 20 percent of the acreage of small fruits in Oregon and Washington. Long-term impact is a majority of small fruits producers using IPM-based decision thresholds.

    Project objectives:

    Overall project goal:

    Enhancing sustainability of small fruit production in the Pacific Northwest through educating producers on consensus derived scouting and decision-making parameters.

    Create a draft document:

    Collecting and organizing the current usage/research/knowledge concerning scouting and decision-making into a draft document that will set the baseline for the workshop and stimulate further elaboration and discussion. It will also highlight the gaps and weak areas in our knowledge base.

    Conduct consensus workshop:

    Gathering a wide range of approximately 60 producers, researchers and industry professionals, including the producers and cooperators identified in proposal sections F & G, in a total of three (blackberry, raspberry, blueberries) one- to two-day facilitated discussions of scouting and decision-making parameters will ensure that those closest to the subject (producers) are heard and that their concerns, opinions and suggestions are incorporated into the project results. The inclusion of researchers and industry professionals will add to and balance the workshop discussions. This approach will produce a Scouting Toolbox centered on practicality as well as science.

    Finalize document and produce results:

    The names of the producers, researcher and industry professionals involved in the workshops will be noted in the final product. This inclusive endorsement will maximize the Scouting Toolbox’s acceptance among small fruit producers throughout the Pacific Northwest. The end product, given its broad backing, will increase the probability of producers using scouting as a tool in transitioning toward sustainable farming operations. The creation of the Scouting Toolbox follows the successful methods of Pest Management Strategic Plans. In 2003, Peerbolt Crop Management created the draft Caneberry PMSP document and helped researchers at Oregon State University produce the final document. Project proposal producers & cooperators (Sections F. & G.) will review draft products before production.

    Provide a range of educational opportunities:

    Producers gain knowledge in myriad ways. Some have little interest in attending meetings or workshops. Some do not understand the potential of the Internet and/or have no interest in it. Some learn from verbal interchange, others prefer a printed resource. The more ways the Scouting Toolbox is produced and disseminated, the wider its reach and the more probability producers will change their behavior toward sustainability.

    Communicate knowledge gaps to researchers and commodity commissions (funders):

    Develop and communicate areas of inadequate information to regional research faculty and organizations. Communicate similar information to potential research funding organizations.

    Create periodic updating mechanism:

    It is important to keep the scouting parameters and decision-making thresholds up to date to assure long-term success of this project. Updating printed materials is costly; however, it will be possible to inform producers of new findings during existing annual workshops, short courses and field days. Additionally, we will alert producers through the weekly email Small Fruit Update. As more growers become more familiar with the Internet, it may be possible to provide a web-based field-tested feedback mechanism so what is not working for producers on-farm can be incorporated into the updated Scouting Toolbox. We will actively seek funding to assist with this objective, which is outside the scope of this three-year project.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.