Orchid and bromeliad grower Silver Vase developed its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program about 10 years ago to satisfy customers looking for sustainable products and to ensure a clean environment for both customers and the company’s employees.
IPM staff at Silver Vase, as expected, limits the use of pesticides on plants and relies on a clean greenhouse environment to produce untainted products. Beneficial insect species are incorporated at strategic and timed intervals to control unwanted pest infestations, and these practices guarantee delivery of residue-free plants to the consumer.
Silver Vase breaks down its IPM program like this:
1. All new and young live goods are brought in bare-rooted. This allows Silver Vase to create its own soil media for its orchids and bromeliads. Soil mites are added to mixtures in stage one to prevent and eat the larva that produces fungus gnats.
The beneficial mites are released to live amid the greenhouses for two to three months. Additionally, all orchids are originally sourced from Floricultura, which specializes in the tissue culture and propagation of quality orchid plant material. Silver Vase believes these young orchid imports from Holland are more naturally strong and disease resistant than some other young imports. And that leads to better quality.
2. Because it is impossible to entirely eliminate fungus gnats, spraying is still a necessary practice. Silver Vase, however, chooses to take extra precautions to ensure that early-process spraying is reduced to a minimum of one or two sprays per year.
3. Because spraying is a rare occurrence for Silver Vase and chemicals are not used on plants regularly, natural predators are a decisive application as part of stages two and three in the greenhouses. The beneficials do not harm the plants. Instead, they combat the pests that could possibly affect the orchids and bromeliads. Production and IPM staff allow for friendly predatory flies within the orchid greenhouses, while bromeliads naturally tend to attract helpful spiders.
4. To ensure buyers that Silver Vase products are residue free upon receipt, no chemicals are used on plants that are scheduled to be shipped within 10 weeks. If there is a pest problem, Silver Vase will treat it another way. Chemicals are off limits within what the operation calls a “period of protection.”
“Ongoing chemical spraying is how the average greenhouse controls pests and keeps plants protected,” says Marcella Lucio, director of marketing for Silver Vase. “Many growers spray on average every two to three weeks. Given Silver Vase’s IPM measures, we only spray crops an average of one to two times in an entire year.”
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