Best Practices To Prevent Pest Problems

A talent for diagnosis is necessary — but not sufficient — to produce a great crop. Scouting regularly and thoroughly for symptoms and interpreting them correctly does give you the luxury of early detection, but it also is critical to practice good overall greenhouse management. Following are some best management practices (BMPs) that will help you reduce the chance that there will be symptoms you’ll need to interpret. The goal of your BMPs is to solve problems in ad­vance, safeguarding the environment by using pesticides only when necessary.

1. Let the greenhouse structure work for you, not against you. Maintain the right light level for the crop. Arrange for optimal ventilation to reduce problems with diseases like downy mildew and Botrytis. Eliminate bench and floor unevenness to eliminate puddling that exposes crops to Pythium root rot. Choose benches with impermeable surfaces like metal or plastic, so they can be easily cleaned. Consider installing thrips-exclusion screening and positive pressure for stock plant areas.

2. Bring only clean plants into your clean greenhouse. Cuttings taken from stock plants may bring insects, mites, and pathogens with them. Purchase cuttings from reliable propagators with certified clean stock programs. Growing your own crops from seed is less risky, but some pathogens can be disseminated on seeds — including Xanthomonas, Pseudomonas, Alternaria, Rhiz­octonia, Phytophthora, Cucumber Mosaic Virus, and Tobacco Ringspot Virus. Make an effort to introduce clean plants, but be prepared for the occasional breakdown in quality control from your supplier. If possible, quarantine new plants by placing them in an isolated greenhouse until you can confirm they are healthy or you can restore their health.

3. Grow only crop plants in your greenhouse. This means eliminating pet plants as well as weeds. Weeds under benches are often reservoirs for Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus.

4. Eliminate potential sources of trouble in and around the greenhouse. Weedy areas just outside the vents are an invitation to insects that can fly in, bringing diseases with them. Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus can easily be transferred into the greenhouse from weeds outside.

5. Inspect plants on arrival. By examining incoming plants closely, it’s possible to find hitchhiking insects or diseases before they are set loose among the crops. Check for thrips, aphids, mites, powdery mildew, and rust so these problems don’t surprise you later on.

6. Monitor your fertility program with periodic soil tests and foliar analyses. Test the accuracy of the fertilizer proportions every three months, or as unusual water dye color or crop symptoms indicate.

7. Address water quality problems (excessively high or low bicarbonate levels, for example). Establish a program that minimizes the effect of the troublesome factor.

8. Keep good records. When observations are made, record them for future reference. Also record fertilizer and pest control applications with the date and time, amounts used, volume of solution delivered and equipment used. This information will be invaluable for troubleshooting, improving efficiency and reducing application cost.

9. Practice careful sanitation. Never place plants, pots, flats or hose ends on contaminated surfaces. If you reuse your pots, disinfect them by removing loose mix, soaking in disinfectant for 10 minutes, then rinsing. Have soap and water easily available and make sure workers use them. With major crops, change disposable gloves when moving between cultivars or when moving between groups of plants from different suppliers. Be quick to remove plants that have disease symptoms or heavy insect infestation. Place these directly into garbage bags, handling carefully to prevent spores from dislodging. After removal, clean hands, change clothing, and clean shoes to prevent spreading spores and insects to other plants and other sections of the greenhouse.

10. Deliver pesticides efficiently and effectively. Your equipment should deliver small droplets, distribute particles uniformly, penetrate the canopy well, and give good coverage of lower leaf surfaces. Materials with translaminar or systemic action help to compensate for incomplete coverage. Pay attention to storage life. Monitor efficacy using sticky cards and direct plant examination so you can tell if resistance becomes a problem with a previously effective material. Know which life stages the material is effective against, so that you can choose the appropriate material and evaluate its performance appropriately.

11. Avoid resistance. Minimize insecticide use, avoid persistent applications, avoid tank mixes, use long-term insecticide rotations, use insecticides with non-specific modes of action, and integrate chemical and biological controls. To slow the development of fungicide resistance, try to rotate among two or three effective materials–in particular, use protectant materials in alternation with systemic fungicides to limit resistance to the systemic products.

12. Choose the appropriate fungicide, insecticide, or miticide for the problem detected, and pay close attention to rates and cautions given on the label. Use the least toxic product that will do the job. Stay abreast of university test results that compare product performance — particularly for new materials.

13. Adjust the fertilizer program based on test results. Just because a trade magazine article says a grower or scientist found a beneficial crop response to a nutrient, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Crops respond when they are deficient, and that’s determined by test results.

Leave a Reply

More From Insect Control...
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
Latest Stories
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 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 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
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

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
Surendra Dara told attendees that biopesticides aren’t just for organic production. “These are tools for conventional growers, too. These materials do work.”

April 14, 2015

Biocontrols Are Covered In Depth At Biocontrols 2015 Co…

More than 400 growers, pest control advisers and certified crop advisers, researchers, government regulators and suppliers gathered in Fresno on March 3-5 for the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. This event — a first of its kind focused solely on the use of biopesticides and other biocontrols — brought attendees together for an in-depth discussion on the latest tools available, “how-to” production topics, market trends and regulatory issues. Attendees also spent time with nearly 40 exhibitors learning about new technologies, techniques and services bringing biocontrols into the mainstream with growers all over the country. “Ours is a very economic and science-based business culture,” said Gary Schulz, the new CEO of the California Association Of Pest Control Advisers. “We encourage our pest control advisers (PCAs) to use all of the tools they have available, traditional chemicals, as well as many of the new softer materials including biopesticides and biocontrols.” Sessions covered […]

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
Restricting foliar pesticide applications on blooming plants to early morning or as dusk approaches in the evening reduces direct exposure to bees.

April 10, 2015

10 Steps For Protecting Crops And Bees

Bees stay safe and high quality crops thrive when you use bee-friendly practices designed to help both succeed. Griffin Greenhouse Supply Pro (GGSPro) has been actively discussing bee-friendly pesticide use for years. Based on its current understanding of the science and social factors at play, GGSPro currently recommends these 10 bee-friendly practices.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

April 8, 2015

AFE To Fund Honey Bee Health Research Focused On Transl…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) is funding a new research project to examine the health of honey bees on ornamental plants following treatment with neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides.

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

February 1, 2015

New Pest Control Products For Your Toolbox

Add one of these new insecticides to your IPM program for successful pest control.

Read More
IR-4_profile_Feb2015

January 29, 2015

IR-4: A Pest Management Resource For Growers

Almost 40 years ago, IR-4 (Interregional Research Project Number 4) began serving the ornamental horticulture industry, helping to facilitate the registration of pest management tools. IR-4 does this primarily by surveying growers about their pest management issues and then hosting workshops to review survey results and set priorities for the coming years. Most recently, IR-4 coordinated a meeting of researchers and industry members on pollinator health and neonicotinoid chemistries to start a discussion on the needed research. The next step will be to get the outcomes from that workshop out to the public.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow: Peace Tree…

Lloyd Traven, a speaker at the upcoming Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow, was one of the industry’s early adopters of biocontrols in the greenhouse. Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm, is evangelical about the technology as an effective tool for resistance management, as well as improved plant quality that contributes to a grower’s bottom line.

Read More
Wainwright-web-620x349

January 22, 2015

Quality Control With Biocontrols

Make sure the shipment of beneficials that just arrived is viable and ready to go to work in your greenhouse, nursery, or field. Here are five steps you can take to ensure success with your biocontrols.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

December 9, 2014

Fact Sheet: The Value Of Neonicotinoids To Turf And Orn…

An extensive study of the diverse turf and ornamental industry (“The Green Industry”) reveals that neonicotinoids are the top-rated products used by professionals to control their most important pests in greenhouses, landscapes, lawns, nurseries and trees.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

December 9, 2014

New Study Finds Neonicotinoids Are Top-Rated Products F…

According to results of a survey by AgInfomatics, professionals in the turf and ornamental industries fear the loss of neonicotinoid products would reduce the quality of their plants and services, increase costs and negatively impact their ability to manage pest resistance.

Read More