Jun 15, 2020
Seasonal tree fruit updates at the revised Penn IPM hotline

Penn State Extension has announced a major revision to its 1-800 PENN IPM hotline to better serve the horticultural and agricultural community.

Callers may now select from a greater number of integrated pest management and cultural practices topics. This is a toll-free service offered by Penn State specialists and educators with messages updated on a regular if seasonal basis.

The purpose of this hotline has always been to provide immediate access to current information in a brief but easy-to-access format. With this revision, Penn State Extension hopes to provide the same quality of timely reports available to recipients of its internet-based messages to those for whom receiving electronic communications is not an option. Even so, 1-800 PENN IPM (1-800-736-6476) is available to everyone, and will benefit those in situations where online access is not feasible, such as when scouting a field.

New to the service are lines dedicated to the production of popular vegetable crops and small fruits, to various aspects of tree fruit production, and to greenhouse IPM. Special-purpose lines addressing the Coronavirus pandemic and the PDA pesticide applicator license program have also been added. Penn State Extension also inaugurates a dedicated Spanish-language service, featuring selected messages from each of the major categories, translated for members of the Latinx community.

Long-time callers to 1-800 PENN IPM will already be familiar with how to operate the basic menu system: press a key on a phone’s touch-tone keypad to hear a recorded message about a topic. The new system extends this simple method by providing another layer of menu options to deliver more information than before. When a caller presses a key, one of two things happen: either a message from a specialist or educator begins to play, or the listener is given the choice of selecting one of several related options.

Example

An example will help illustrate this. Suppose an orchard owner calls 1-800 PENN IPM. An introductory message provides information on all of the available options, including instructions to “Press 6” to hear messages on tree fruit. So far, this reflects the previous behavior of the hotline and will be familiar to long-time users of the system.

The flexibility of the new layout comes to light after the caller presses that “6” key. Instead of just a single pre-recorded message, there is now the option to listen to separate messages on diseases, insects and mites, general tree fruit horticulture, etc.

Why is this a good thing?

Only one message regarding tree fruit cultivation was available at a time under the old system. If Dr. Peter recorded a message on Monday evening about fire blight control, Dr. Krawczyk might record over it on Tuesday morning with an update about oriental fruit moths. Then Dr. Crassweller might overwrite that message on Tuesday afternoon with something else! A person calling on Tuesday afternoon would never hear or even be aware of, the other two important updates. In this new system, messages from each specialist are retained until replaced by the specialist who recorded it.

Also, under the new system, some keys have special functions. For instance, the “0” key may connect the caller directly to an “operator”, perhaps in an Extension office. In the case of the tree fruit section, the “0” key transfers the caller directly to the Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, while the “8” key provides a brief directory of Extension offices and the ability to be transferred directly to those offices without having to redial a phone number.

A table listing the full set of options is provided below. The 1-800 PENN IPM Cheat Sheet contains a reduced set of menu options and is suitable for printing for quick reference.

Subject Key(s) Description
Vegetables 1 Updates for commercial vegetable production.
General 1 Messages applicable to general vegetable production.
Onion & Allium 2 Specific to Allium production.
Tomatoes & Potatoes 3 Specific to tomato/potato production.
Sweet Corn 4 Sweet corn pest updates.
Vine Crops 5 Pumpkins, squash, other cucurbits and vines
Previous menu (star) * Returns to the previous menu.
Greenhouse IPM 2 Updates for commercial greenhouse IPM.
Coronavirus Tips 3 Coronavirus updates for produce growers.
Small Fruit 4 Commercial small fruit production (all kinds).
Tree Fruit 6 Commercial tree fruit industry main menu.
Pathology 1 Tree fruit pathology updates.
Entomology 2 Tree fruit entomology updates.
Physiology/Horticulture 3 Tree fruit physiology/pomology updates.
General 4 Current tree fruit industry issues.
Directory 8 A brief directory of specialist & educator contact numbers.
FREC 0 Transfer to the Fruit Research and Extension Center.
Previous menu (star) * Returns to the previous menu.
Private Applicator License Update 8 Information about the PDA pesticide applicator license process.
Spanish-Language Translations 9 Updates in Spanish.
Vegetables 1 Messages applicable to general vegetable production.
Greenhouse IPM 2 Messages applicable to greenhouse growing.
Small Fruit 4 Messages applicable to general small fruit production.
Tree Fruit 6 Messages applicable to general tree fruit production.
Previous menu (star) * Returns to the previous m

– Daniel Weber  and Beth K. Gugino, Penn State University





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