Cascade Cuts Gains International Network With Early Biocontrol Use

A journey just over the United States’ border led Cascade Cuts of Bellingham, Wash., to begin using biocontrols.

The road to the company’s biocontrol use began in 1983. Owner Alison Kutz began visiting with her Canadian neighbors and found common ground with progressive Dutch growers. At this point in time, there were few people thinking about how to implement these tools into greenhouse production, she says.



“Dutch Canadians brought a lot of expertise,” Kutz says. “[Biocontrol] use largely started in Denmark and Holland, and they saw how it might work in vegetable production but not necessarily horticulture. So, early on there were producers just over the border. Specifically, Eric Voogt from Westcan Greenhouses had such a great attitude about working biocontrols into ornamental horticulture. I was impressed with his plant quality and started taking notes. We started thinking about how it could fit into our operation. My initial interest was getting natural controls into the herb production. It helped boost our confidence to have a network and support group of growers to lean on.”

Her experience with biocontrol use eventually led Kutz to found Sound Horticulture to educate growers about the ecological benefits of using biocontrols and provide solutions for pest control.

In a Q & A with Greenhouse Grower, Kutz explains the challenges and opportunities brought about with biocontrol implementation.

GG: In what types of greenhouse structures are you using biocontrols?

Kutz: At Cascade Cuts, our structures are a combination of wide varieties such as French Canadian Harnois. It has a retractable roof and full drop side walls that are computerized. We also have AgraTech greenhouses. All of the houses using biocontrols have a nighttime temperature of 50°F and above.

Around the country, I assist growers in large and small operations, as well as in a variety of conservatories, hydroponic rooftop operations and educational institutions. Biocontrols are now being employed in almost every conceivable environment. However, what we use in individual situations varies greatly.

GG: Who are your suppliers for biocontrols?

Kutz: Sound Horticulture distributes beneficial insects from at least eight different sources, across North America, and our beneficial nematodes come from Europe.

GG: What are your application methods? Sachets or any equipment?

Kutz: We often start with two main predator mites. The basis of a most biocontrol programs—a good organic program starts with Stratiolaelaps scimitus mite (formally known as Hypoaspis mites). We use Ss or Strat mites anywhere from propagation onward, as it feeds voraciously on the larvae of fungus gnats, as well as thrips and other soil dwelling stages of insect life cycles.

The second part of this tag-team of beneficial mites is the Amblyseius cucumeris mite, which is highly effective in the plant canopy feeding on western flower thrips (WFT). The WFT that might manage to evade the  A. cucumeris then drop to the soil, only to be devoured by the Stratiolaelaps mites, which are lying in wait. These two beneficial mites play exceptionally well together and form the basis of many biocontrol programs. These predators are generally broadcast freely out of 1-liter containers. Occasionally, sachets might be called for in hanging basket production.

GG: Are there any government regulations that have prevented you from importing certain biocontrols?

Kutz: You can imagine that the USDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the biological protection organization to the US government, regularly makes sure biocontrol agents are not inadvertently spread around the globe where they don’t belong. After the events of 9/11, there was a concern that there could be bioterrorism. APHIS was just one of the many organizations that received increased scrutiny. Of course, at the same time, uninvited pests continue to enter the country daily.

GG: What pests are you controlling with biocontrols? Which aren’t well controlled with biocontrols?

Kutz: We have had success with fungus gnats, shore fly, western flower thrips, aphids, whitefly, TSSM (two spotted spider mite), broad mite, cyclamen mite, mealy bug and more.

A lot of it is our approach; for all of us as good growers, are we equipped to be proactive enough with applications? Can we monitor closely and watch the trends from year to year? Can we learn from each other and fine tune these programs as we go along? These considerations, plus patience and good communication skills within a growing team, help immensely. These are the growers that will be successful with their biocontrol efforts. For many growers, a huge challenge is that of the quality of incoming plugs. It can be challenging if something comes in with whitefly, thrips or aphids.

Almost every common greenhouse pest these days we can handle with biological controls, if we are proactive enough and anticipate ahead of time what we might expect. However, realistically there may be times when it does not make sense to handle certain pest pressures biologically. Every situation is unique to some degree.

Increasingly, there are some occasional challenges with pests when there is no commercially available sourcing for the needed biocontrol. This problem will likely continue with the increase of exotic pests continuing to stake out new territory in northern climates.

For instance, there’s a parasitic wasp for greenhouse thrips. It is from Brazil and can handle this pest. The USDA gave special permits in 1980s for growers in Florida and California to do studies and release these parasitic wasps for this variety of thrips. They found wasps did well for those four years, but there is absolutely no commercial availability at this point in 2014.

There is the chicken/egg question that we deal with when we have the movement of pests like never before – the vectoring around the globe moving into a variety of different settings. Supply and demand dictates whether these pests can be produced commercially. Also ,how the USDA feels about it. It’s a broad issue with many important considerations.

GG: Are there special considerations when dealing with flowering potted vs. bedding plants when it comes to biocontrols?

Kutz: Certainly between vegetable production and bedding there are many differences, as you can imagine. There is a higher degree of tolerance for foliar damage in vegetable production as long as there is no damage to the fruiting portion of the crop.

In ornamental floriculture, we have next to zero tolerance for any pests. For example, if a grower has been growing African daisies and also has a greenhouse full of bedding plants, there is lots of pollen available as a food resource for a pest like WFT. These innocuous pests can increase their numbers rapidly over the spring and summer months. The grower has to be proactive and on the ball, with monitoring, watching trends and populations, and anticipating the increase of pest populations. Cleaning out between crops is always the goal but difficult at times. Good culture and sanitation and clearing out plant material that shouldn’t be in the greenhouse can be very helpful to reduce the excess pollen load because thrips will continue to feed on any pollen available.

In many instances growers find, for example, that Amblyseius cucumeris plus the Stratiolaelaps mite are very satisfactory for thrips control. A. cucumeris is an aggressive thrips predator that, when combined with the Stratiolaelaps mite makes a fantastic tool to tackle WFT. We use one application of Stratiolaelaps mites only. They will act as scavengers, mining through the top few centimeters of potting soil searching for thrips pupae. These two predator mites work well together because the A. cucumeris stays in the canopy and devours young thrips as they hatch on the underside of the foliage. If any thrips manage to evade the A. cucumeris, they will drop off the foliage and into the soil. Those elusive stragglers will then be handled by the soil-dwelling Strat mite.

Climate, time of year, relative humidity, crop mix and pollen load all influence WFT pressure and our most appropriate response. For instance, often we might find that beneficial nematodes are more appropriate as a primary tool for both WFT and fungus gnats. For instance, high summer humidity in the East and South may make nematodes more effective in the canopy than in the Pacific Northwest climate. There are reasons why different strategies that work for one operation may not be as effective in another. We see this over and over when talking to practitioners around the country. It boils back to understanding your pest, environmental conditions and the natural behaviors of your “hired hands.”

Topics: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Crop Inputs...
Feature Image Cob 700 (NewLux)

November 28, 2015

16 LED Lighting Solutions For Your Greenhouse

Narrowing in on the right LED lighting product often comes down to considering your specific crop needs and growing requirements to see what works best for your application. Here are 15 LED products to take into account when choosing the right fit for your greenhouse.

Read More
Begonia 'BabyWing Red' (2015 Louisiana State University Field Trials)

November 27, 2015

2015 Louisiana State University (Hammond, La.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Louisiana State University in Hammond, La.

Read More
Cape Fear Botanical Garden

November 27, 2015

National Garden Bureau Awards Grants To Three Therapeutic Gardens

The grants, totaling $10,000, are through the organization’s Growing For Futures program, which supports the growth of therapeutic gardens across the country.

Read More
Latest Stories
Stockosorb Crystals_with water Agriculture leaf (Evonick)

November 21, 2015

9 Sustainable Growing Media Products For Superior Green…

Manufacturers are delivering new growing media products to help growers attempt to minimize their footprint without sacrificing quality. Here are nine new products to consider for your greenhouse operation.

Read More
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans

November 16, 2015

Real-World Biocontrols Trends From The Buglady

During ,em>Greenhouse Grower's Top 100 Breakfast at Cultivate'15, Suzanne Wainwright-Evans of Buglady Consulting discussed trends in biocontrols, including what she has seen from breeders, growers and even public gardens.

Read More

October 13, 2015

Bayer CropScience And OHP To End Marketing Partnership …

The move allows Bayer to market its ornamental products directly to greenhouses and nurseries, although OHP will still service a limited line of Bayer products.

Read More
RISE 2015 Governing Board

October 13, 2015

RISE Annual Meeting Celebrates 25 Years of Industry Adv…

The annual meeting for RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), held the last week of September in Orlando, was more than just presentations, awards and the election of new officers. It was also a celebration of 25 years as a leading advocate for the specialty pesticide and fertilizer industries.

Read More

October 9, 2015

New Biochemical Miticide Is Designed To Combat Varroa M…

EPA recently registered Potassium Salts of Hops Beta Acids (K-HBAs), which is intended to fit into a rotation program to battle resistance.

Read More

October 7, 2015

Ball FloraPlant Eliminates Neonicotinoid Use On Its Off…

Ball FloraPlant has announced its offshore cuttings farms did not use neonicotinoid-based pest management chemicals during its spring crop production last shipping season, and will continue to be neonic free this year. Instead, the company and its greenhouse managers have relied on alternative means to supply insect-free cuttings to its global customer base.

Read More
Nemasys And Millenium Beneficial Nematodes from BASFm_Nematodes

October 7, 2015

How BASF’s UK Biological Production Facility Expa…

BASF has expanded its biologicals production facility in Littlehampton, UK. The new capacity increases the company’s ability to double the production of beneficial nematodes and inoculants.

Read More

September 25, 2015

Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association Announces Early…

According to an August 31 survey of members of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), whose members represent approximately 95 percent of all North American peat production, the peat harvest season has been adequate, but not strong, and could cause shortages and potentially higher transportation costs. Down To The Dirty Details The survey inquired about the status of CSPMA members’ 2015 Actual Harvest (including an estimate of what can be expected to be harvested for the remainder of the season) as a percentage of their 2015 Expected Harvest. The lack of a strong harvest overall may challenge peat availability. The Prairie Provinces (Manitoba 98 percent, Saskatchewan 88 percent and Alberta 94 percent), experienced early favorable weather conditions and a strong start to the year. This helped to minimize periodic, negative, weather-related conditions during the balance of the harvest season, and the harvest numbers are close to achieving the expected amounts. […]

Read More

September 23, 2015

New Crop Protection Products And Label Updates

Here are some of the most recent products released and label updates for crop protection agents in the greenhouse and nursery market. Fame Fungicides (FMC Corp.) FMC Corp. has introduce Fame fungicides, a family of FRAC 11 group (Strobilurin) products that delivers fast-acting, patented fluoxastrobin protection against major soil and foliar diseases. Rainfast in 15 minutes, Fame fungicides can be used on most greenhouse and nursery plants and provide fast foliar and root uptake. “Proven by university research, Fame fungicides offer fluoxastrobin action, which ensures a high degree of systemic activity to provide very rapid disease protection and stop further growth of established disease,” says Naimur Rahman, strategy and fungicide marketing product manager for FMC. The Fame fungicide family includes: • Fame SC: a suspension concentrate fungicide containing fluoxastrobin that controls major diseases, including anthracnose, downy mildew, powdery mildew, scab and leaf spot. It provides rapid foliar and root uptake […]

Read More
Offshore farm profiles Dummen Orange Las Mercedes Solanaceas GH

September 8, 2015

Dümmen Orange Implementing Consistent Standards On All …

Owning and operating several locations can be a challenge in maintaining consistent quality and cleanliness across the board. This is true of both breeders and growers. But those who do it right have invested in technology and practices that ensure that plant quality matches, no matter where their plants are shipped from. That’s the goal for Dümmen Orange. Now the world’s largest producer of unrooted cuttings, the company has a combined 150 hectares or 370 acres of production space worldwide, dedicated to cuttings production. Recent acquisitions of product portfolios, both this year and in the past few, has raised the company’s cuttings production expectation to more than 1.4 billion, including 350 million in North America. It has farms all over the world (see the 2015 Top Cuttings Producers ranking to see where), and produces cuttings for its own genetics, as well as collaborating with more than 30 third-party breeders across all […]

Read More
Bill Lewis grower manager at Delray Plants

August 31, 2015

Delray Plants Takes Preventative Approach To Pest Contr…

Trying to control pests effectively on a wide variety of crops is a major undertaking. Delray Plants in Venus, Fla., has been using biological controls as a part of its pest control program for more than 10 years. It operates 300 acres, which includes covered structures and 7 acres of outdoor field production.

Read More
Bob’s Market and Greenhouses’ Ron Morris pours Stockosorb into the hopper for distribution on the conveyor line

August 13, 2015

How Bob’s Market And Greenhouses Improved Growing…

My father started our company 45 years ago growing bedding plants, mainly early season production and finished plants for our West Virginia market. It was in the early 1980s that we started growing earlier spring production and shipping materials to southern markets, and by the late 1980s, we also produced pansies for fall. We started using hydrogels when they first came on the market in the early 1990s and found that they really helped with our production by keeping plants healthier for these new markets. Over the years, we’ve grown to be a large young plant producer and have a sizable business growing finished plants in cell packs, 4 1/2-inch pots, 6-inch pots, gallon containers, hanging baskets, multiple sizes of large containers and large baskets for municipal use. Creating The Ideal Soil Mix With our old system, it took several workers to mix pre-made soil with slow-release fertilizers in cement […]

Read More
Fertilizer Rates Feature Image

August 12, 2015

Selecting Fertilizer Rates For Several Spring Bedding P…

Fertilizing bedding plants can be difficult due to the differing needs of the large variety of plants that we grow. Many operations do not grow enough of any one crop to cater the fertilizer specifically for each crop. Therefore, grouping crops with similar fertilizer requirements and having two to three fertilizer strengths available is a practical way to ensure plants are getting the fertilizer they need. With many new plant varieties on the market, we wanted to conduct a trial at Cornell University to determine best fertilizer rates for several common bedding plant crops. 22 Bedding Plants Studied To Establish Fertilizer Rates Plugs and rooted liners of 22 crops (Table 1) were transplanted into 4-inch (500 mL volume) round pots with a commercial peat/perlite based substrate. The plants were grown in a glass greenhouse at Cornell University during the spring season at a spacing of one plant per square foot. Heating set […]

Read More
Feature image The Aphid Guard Aphid Banker Plant, coming soon to the market, supports beneficial insect populations.

June 21, 2015

The Latest In Crop Protection

Protecting your plants from the latest threats is no easy task, but new product lines promise to safely and effectively eliminate a wide range of pests and diseases, without harming your employees or the environment.

Read More
Bee On Flower

June 18, 2015

Pest Management And Marketing Strategies For Bee-Friend…

Michigan State University Extension shares pest management practices to produce plants that are safe for pollinators and marketing strategies for clearing up confusion about bee-friendly plants.

Read More

June 13, 2015

UMASS Fertilizer Trials Recommend Nature’s Source Organ…

In a recent online fact-sheet at its Extension website, the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment lists Nature’s Source Organic Plant Food 3-1-1 as “the best liquid organic fertilizer,” according to Dr. Douglas Cox, Stockbridge School of Agriculture. It is called-out by the Extension after a number of years of studying the use of organic fertilizers for growing commercial greenhouse crops. The trials evaluated traditional water soluble and granular slow-release chemical fertilizers. Dr. Cox recommends Nature’s Source Organic Plant Food 3-1-1 as a liquid fertilizer that is readily available, cost effective, OMRI-listed and with good label directions for greenhouses. He also mentions the ease-of-use in how it mixes well with water and can pass fertilizer injectors. “Nature’s Source is currently the best liquid organic fertilizer,” Cox wrote in his article “Organic Fertilizers – Thoughts on Using Liquid Organic Fertilizers for Greenhouse Plants,” “I have seen no foliar chlorosis yet with this fertilizer. Nature’s source is widely available and a great […]

Read More

June 10, 2015

BASF’s Sultan Miticide Receives California Regist…

BASF Sultan miticide recently received registration in California, giving ornamental growers a new rapid, targeted mode of action for mite control. Sultan miticide, with active ingredient cyflumetofen, offers ornamental growers targeted knockdown of all life stages of tetranychid mites, with long residual control. It has practically no toxicity to beneficial insects, including predatory mites and pollinators. Sultan miticide offers a new mode of action to combat cross-resistance with other commercial miticides, and is compatible with integrated pest management programs (IPM). “The long-awaited California registration of Sultan miticide is exciting news. Greenhouse, nursery and landscape professionals in the state now have a new class of chemistry that gives them fast control over all life stages of plant-damaging mite populations,” says Joe Lara, senior product manager for BASF. “Sultan miticide now provides California growers with a much needed new first choice for miticide resistance management programs that won’t disrupt populations of beneficial […]

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

May 27, 2015

Industry Associations State Their Support Of National P…

AmericanHort, Society of American Florists, American Floral Endowment and Horticultural Research Institute joined together to embrace key aspects of the federal government’s recently announced National Strategy for the Protection of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The long-awaited strategy has three major goals: reducing honey bee colony losses, increasing Monarch butterfly populations, and restoring or enhancing millions of acres of land as pollinator habitat through public and private action. According to the statement, the associations are studying the details, but they agree that the overall approach appears balanced and mostly sensible. The rest of the statement reads as follows: “The national strategy’s overarching goals dovetail well with the focus of the ongoing Horticulture Industry Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Program. Under that initiative, we have directly funded several priority research projects, and collaborated on additional research funded by others, to provide critical scientifically sound guidance for professional horticulturists. We are developing a grower […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]