At Ochoa Produce, we reduce or try to eliminate the need for chemical pesticides by using traditional farming practices. We use chemical intervention only when cultural or mechanical methods are not effective. Our philosophy and methods follow many of the same guidelines outlined in Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
IPM is a pest control strategy that applies many tactics to control insects, weeds, destructive animals, fungus and pathogens. Managing pests using non-chemical tactics is the first course of action. Emphasis is placed on acceptable levels of these pests versus using pesticides to try to completely get rid of them. When pesticide is required the least toxic choice is taken.
We run a farm. Farms have insects and weeds. There is a level of insects and weeds that we tolerate if they do little or no harm to the crops we grow. Eradicating all insects and weeds is not only impossible, but costly and not healthy for our family and farmworkers, our customers or the environment.
The following practices are used to manage weeds, insects and diseases at Ochoa Produce:
- Choosing cultivars or varieties that grow best in our climate and soil. This reduces the stress on plants making them less susceptible to disease and insects.
- Tilling not only prepares the field for planting but it also uproots weeds and exposes insects to the elements and the animals that feed on those insects.
- Mulching with black or white plastic blocks light from weed seeds reducing weed germination. Weeds compete with crops for water.
- Using drip tape under plastic mulch versus an overhead sprinkler. This applies water directly to crops and reduces irrigation to weeds. Drip tape under mulch also limits dirt splashed on leaves reducing disease contamination from the soil to crops.
- Weeding our fields manually instead of spraying herbicides.
- Rotating crops, reducing crop specific disease and insect build up in the soil.
Protective fungicide is used on potato seed pieces to prevent blight before planting. Blight causes potato crops to rot in the field.