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...

May 22, 2015

Nexus Greenhouses Is Optimistic For Expansion Into New Markets

Cheryl Longtin and Mike Porter, who own Nexus Corporation, say they were excited to attend the grand opening of Gotham Greens’ new structure atop the new Whole Foods grocery store in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., when it opened in December 2013. The project is just one example of some of the new and expanding markets that Nexus Corporation has expanded into over the past few years. Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus, says the company has enjoyed getting to know and working with the founders of Gotham Greens, Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, the chief agriculture officer, on their innovative approach to business. “They are very excited and work hard internally – just great people,” he says. “From our perspective, it’s great to see that excitement and vision. The employees there are happy and there’s no turnover; they’re only adding new people […]

Read More
Farwest2015

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Innovation Day

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strategy

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strat…

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
r3bv2 disease

May 20, 2015

SAF And AmericanHort Ask Government To Take Ralstonia O…

The Society of American Florists (SAF) and AmericanHort want Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3, Biovar 2 (R3Bv2) taken off a list of animal and plant diseases that the federal government has determined could be misused as terrorist weapons. SAF and AmericanHort submitted formal comments together on the horticulture industry’s science-backed position on the matter. According to Lin Schmale, SAF’s senior director of government relations, extensive research has proven R3Bv2 does not belong on the government’s list of animal and plant diseases that can be misused as terrorist weapons. Every two years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requests a public review of the Select Agent list, asking for comments on whether plant or animal diseases should be taken off the current list or added to it. In the floral industry, R3Bv2 can have a devastating impact on geranium (pelargonium) crops, Schmale says, and both the potato and tomato industries also could be adversely affected by introduction […]

Read More
Two-spotted spider mites, adults and eggs

May 18, 2015

Beware Of Spider Mites In Bougainvillea And Mandevilla …

Greenhouse growers need to scout for spider mites on bougainvillea and mandevilla and use appropriate treatments that minimize pesticide resistance.

Read More
CrownBees_Blue-Orchard-Bee-Female_Artz

May 14, 2015

Pollinator Health 2015: What’s Next For Horticult…

The news on pollinators and neonicotinoids continues to fluctuate between good and bad. Research and outreach efforts backed by the Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative help move the industry in a positive direction.

Read More
empress-intrinsic-brand-fungicide

May 13, 2015

BASF’s Empress Intrinsic Fungicide Is Approved Fo…

BASF’s Empress Intrinsic brand fungicide received supplemental labeling, providing California growers with an effective drench fungicide for disease control and plant health. The supplemental labeling is for use on herbaceous and woody plants in greenhouse, nursery container and field production in California. Empress Intrinsic fungicide provides protection against the four major root and crown disease pathogens: fusarium, phytophthora, pythium and rhizoctonia. Research shows Intrinsic fungicides control the broadest range of ornamental diseases while improving plant resilience to quality and reducing stresses that commonly occur during commercial production, handling and transportation. “More and more growers across the country are discovering the benefits of Empress Intrinisic brand fungicide treatments at propagation for rooted plugs, cuttings and seedlings, and in drench applications on transplants during the production cycle to protect against the major root diseases,“ says Joe Lara, senior product manager for BASF ornamentals. “A BASF fungicide program utilizing Pageant Intrinsic and Empress Intrinsic […]

Read More
Green Mum Basket

April 21, 2015

Growers Face Dilemma In Managing Plant Growth

Whether you’re applying plant growth regulators, manually pinching plants or using automated trimming, the most important thing is to find the right balance.

Read More

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More

April 15, 2015

BASF’s Pageant Intrinsic Fungicide Registration A…

The state of California has approved the supplemental label registration of Pageant Intrinsic brand fungicide for disease control in the commercial production of greenhouse-grown tomatoes and tomato transplants for the home consumer market.

Read More
Egg card used for insect control in Parkway Garden’s retail area.

April 13, 2015

Biocontrols Use Requires Commitment

For some companies, a switch to biocontrols is an easy decision to make. Parkway Gardens of Ontario, Canada, began using biocontrols nine years ago after Erik Jacobsen, the company’s owner, wanted to expose Parkway, its customers and the environment to fewer pesticide products. “Many pesticides were increasingly ineffective, and in Canada, new product registration moves with glacial slowness,” Jacobsen says. “The labor cost of applying pesticides is much greater than using biocontrols.” In addition, it was also an opportunity to market the company’s eco-friendliness to a younger demographic, he says. In a Q & A with Greenhouse Grower, Jacobsen explains what biocontrols and methods have proved effective for Parkway Gardens Greenhouse Grower: In what types of greenhouse structures are you using biocontrols? Erik Jacobsen: Our greenhouses are all poly covered. About half the range is a Westbrook 14-foot at peak gutter-connected block, and the remaining half a mix of quonset-style […]

Read More

April 11, 2015

Lowe’s Announces Commitment To Phase Out Neonicotinoids…

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s companies announced April 9 that it has committed to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from its stores in a gradual phase-out over the next 48 months. In response, horticulture industry associations issued a statement that Lowe’s position is surprising, considering the most recent and positive reports on the state of honeybee health and recent peer reviewed research, and that this is an issue for which sound science must take priority.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Survey Snapshot Shows Biocontrols Mainstreaming

Have you incorporated biocontrols into your greenhouse operation? If so, you’ve got plenty of company. An anonymous online survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine in December 2014 of more than 156 ornamental plant and flower growers across the U.S. found 81 percent used biocontrols in 2014.

Read More

March 31, 2015

Manufacturers Are Taking Biologicals To The Next Level

Through acquisitions and new products, many crop protection companies are making firm commitments to the future of the biocontrols industry.

Read More
OxiPhos_BioSafe2

March 23, 2015

BioSafe Makes Label Changes To OxiPhos And ZeroTol 2.0

There have been some recent label changes made to the BioSafe Systems product OxiPhos, a systemic bactericide/fungicide that reduces downy mildew spores when tank mixed with ZeroTol 2.0.

Read More
Nufarm_logo

March 23, 2015

Nufarm Fungicides Now Registered For Use On Edible Crop…

Nufarm Americas announced label expansions for two of its fungicides that will provide more pest management options for the ornamental industry. The Cleary 3336 F and EG fungicides are now registered for use across a wider range of edible crops, including select greenhouse vegetables and transplants, herbs and backyard fruit.

Read More
ColeusDMLeafSporulation_Daughtrey

March 11, 2015

Research Gives Clues For Preventing Coleus Downy Mildew

Maintaining awareness of coleus downy mildew is more important than ever to safeguard these attractive plants for reliable garden performance.

Read More
Rose Rosette on Knockout rose, May 2013. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 2, 2015

Rose Rosette Disease Fight Gets A Boost From Government…

In 2014, $4.6 million was awarded through the Farm Bill to tackle rose rosette disease, a devastating pathogen that affects one of the industry’s most important crops.

Read More
Fig 1 Leafy Gall On Leucanthemum Becky

March 2, 2015

How To Prevent Leafy Gall Before You Lose Plants

Leafy gall is a nasty disease that can go undetected until plant damage is done. Take these steps to protect your crops from infection.

Read More

February 17, 2015

A New Look At Biological Control: Can Plants Affect The…

The success of a biological control program depends on a number of factors including quality of natural enemies, timing of release, release rates and environmental conditions. However, what is typically not taken into consideration is how plants can affect the performance of natural enemies, including attack rate and searching ability. Biological control agents work hard to protect plants, but plants have ways to help themselves, too.

Read More