Growers at any stage, from beginner to expert, can learn the basics or get a refresher course on effective sanitation, banker plants, and buying and using beneficials and predatory insects during the Protected Production and Biocontrol Track for ornamentals, greenhouse vegetables, and cannabis producers at Biocontrols USA West Conference in San Diego, March 3-7.
The track, specifically developed to be crop agnostic for all growers who produce in a controlled or protected environment, will feature three sessions packed with information that growers can take home and apply to their operations immediately.
Laying a foundation of the IPM pyramid, Kelly Vance of Beneficial Insectary will present “Starting and Staying Clean – the Importance of Sanitation in Biocontrol Programs” in the first session, providing growers with cultural control knowledge they can use as a baseline for their success. Pathogens affect not only the crop, but also the biological control agents (BCAs) growers purchase to control plant parasites. In this session, growers will learn about vectors of destructive plant and arthropod pathogens, cultural practices to control them, and how to establish and maintain scheduled sanitation programs to keep their plants and BCAs healthy and clean.
Next up is a dynamic duo in “Commercial Insectary to Greenhouse – Tips from Beneficial Insect Producers,” where Lynn LeBeck of the Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers and Brian Spencer of Applied Bio-nomics Ltd, will provide growers with an education of where all those “good bugs” come from and how they’re produced. Growers will learn about how the commercial insectary industry works to help growers buy and use high-quality BCAs, as well as how to assess a shipment of BCAs and apply them to plants for effective management.
In the last session, “Effective Banker Plant Systems and Supplemental Feeding of Biological Control Agents,” growers will learn all about providing the best environment for beneficials and predatory insects from the experts, Suzanne Wainwright-Evans of Buglady Consulting and Paul Koole from Biobest USA Inc. With the right use of banker plant systems and souped-up supplemental feeding in biocontrol programs, growers will find that their BCAs are healthier and live longer, thus providing better control and saving on crop protection costs.
Greenhouse growers will also benefit from the Greenhouse Ornamentals and Biocontrol Track, focusing on new research showing the efficacy of using biocontrols in IPM programs to control thrips and botrytis, as well as how to educate and inform consumers about the hows and whys and benefits of using biocontrols. There’s also a session on greenhouse application equipment, information on new biocontrols products for your greenhouse, and a retail panel on what growers will need to do to meet continued marketplace demand for sustainable production.