Partners Against Pests

Partners Against Pests

As researchers and extension specialists work with growers to reach that perfect balance of efficacy and economy in their pest control programs, many find that the pests themselves aren’t the only challenge. Another is the myth that use of conventional chemicals and biopesticides is an either/or proposition.

IPM advocates admit it’s easy to see how this myth got started. Organic growers use biopesticides as a stand-alone because most products are registered for use on organic crops. So biopesticides are often linked to organic production.

But in reality, only organic growers use biopesticides exclusively. In fact, organic production represents only a small percentage of biopesticide use. All things considered–economics, efficacy, sustainability and crop quality–traditional growers are learning that a program using biopesticides alongside conventionals is often most effective. 

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Resistance management is one piece of that puzzle. Hired in 1989 as an entomologist at the University of Georgia, Dr. Alton Sparks works to control diamondback moth in cole crops. At that time, growers were using organophosphates to control diamondback moth, but the pest developed resistance.

A few years later, a new generation of synthetic chemistry came on the market and, as Sparks has observed, “They worked great at first, but now we’re seeing resistance to those products.”

“In Georgia, the growers were using one of the newer products almost exclusively, in spite of the fact the label told them not to,” explains Dr. George Kennedy, professor of entomology at North Carolina State University. Resistance developed as a result and now, because of its overuse, Kennedy says the manufacturer is considering taking the product off the market in Georgia.

To prolong the efficacy of synthetic pesticides, rotation is mandatory. The recommendation for most products is that they not be used more than twice back to back. The products need to be rotated with a different product containing a different mode of action. “Ideally, you don’t subject subsequent generations to the same mode of action,” Sparks says.

Because biopesticides contain multiple modes of action, they are well suited for rotation in pest management programs. For example, a biopesticide like Bt creates holes in the gut of the pest, whereas conventional pesticides are often neurotoxins.

Complementary Effects

Michael Braverman, manager of Biopesticide Program, IR-4 Project at Rutgers University, agrees that the message is simple when encouraging growers to integrate biopesticides into their spray programs. “It is important to understand that it’s not biopesticides versus conventional,” he points out. “It’s biopesticides and conventionals.”

Resistance management isn’t the only benefit. John Francis, director of marketing and technical services at BioWorks, Fairport, N.Y., says biopesticides can often add a level of control while reducing growers’ costs, with a positive impact on crop quality.

In the case of one greenhouse grower, Francis recalls how he used synthetic fungicides to control pythium, fusarium and other diseases in his poinsettias. The grower required 12 pallets a year of the synthetic material to get an acceptable level of control. However, once he mixed a biological fungicide into his program, he now uses only one pallet a year of the synthetic material.

Francis explains that the biological fungicide does a marvelous job preventing disease, but it is not systemic. So to ensure initial cleanliness of the crop or to provide control during heavy disease pressure, the synthetic fungicide is applied as a drench to knock out existing diseases. 

Check the Database 

A good place to start looking for a biopesticide to combat a specific pest or disease is the IR-4 database. The database is a joint project between the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and biopesticides manufacturers. Braverman explains that the database was assembled because biopesticide companies tend to be smaller and many of the available products are unknown to the grower and extension communities.

The database is surprisingly easy to use and provides a wealth of information including label information and links to individual manufacturers. There you will find a list of products that can be integrated into your crop protection program. For the URL for the database, visit www.greenhousegrower.com.

Application Considerations

Another key benefit that biopesticides offer is in the area of residue management. Many growers like to come in with an application close to harvest to maintain the quality of their mature crop, especially if there is a weather event that would increase pests or diseases. Biopesticides offer growers that flexibility.

In season, however, growers have the option to apply biopesticides as a stand-alone, tank mixed with a synthetic chemical or substituting a biological for a synthetic, one or more times, as part of the spray cycle.

Multi-state trial results released in 2007 by Valent BioSciences Corp., Libertyville, Ill., found that the company’s Bt-based products worked most efficiently when used in rotation as part of an integrated pest management program (IPM). The trial results showed that tank-mix treatments were more effective than rotational treatments, but also more costly.

The important message is that rotational treatments were found to be less expensive while achieving a better level of control and producing a higher yield than the plots treated with synthetic insecticides alone, says Dr. Ramon Georgis, global business manager microbials for Valent Biosciences and a co-author of the study.

A good example of this biological-synthetic chemistry partnership can be seen in apple and pear crops in the Pacific Northwest. Here, codling moth is a major menace and the pest has developed resistance to organophosphates. Michael Dimock, director of technology and development for Certis USA, Columbia, Md., points out that many conventional growers are rotating biological products with conventional inputs to control codling moth.

“Application of the biological is timed for optimal efficacy, usually early stage larva, just after egg hatch,” he says. This method of integrating biological and synthetic products gives an acceptable level of control while not allowing the pest to build resistance to a single mode of chemistry.

“Almost all biological products are not meant to be used as stand-alones,” he says. “They are designed to make all the inputs work better.”

Leave a Reply

More From Insect Control...

July 30, 2015

Let’s Talk About Starflowers. Why Is Pentas Not More Popular?

It is good to talk about production techniques, performance results and then to see how our friends garden. Diversity of plant material has always been a strength in American garden centers, and we should never run out of plants to get people excited. However, perhaps people are tired of Petunias or Callas or Geraniums, but we will never run out of options to put in front of them. One plant that is often overlooked is Pentas, a fabulous summer crop for late spring sales. These are heat-tolerant plants, and growing them below 65°F in the greenhouse results in significant delay. Fertility should be at least 150ppm nitrogen, but avoid ammonia in the fertilizer. Plants are best grown at a somewhat higher pH than usual, between 6.4 to 6.8. For best presentation, pinch out the center bud. Side flowers will bloom together, and plants will walk off the shelf. Garden centers […]

Read More

July 30, 2015

Spread Your Risk Beyond Spring Sales [Opinion]

Growers who participated in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Recap Survey said they have had enough of the uncertainty that the weather brings. They said it’s time to build up sales in other seasons like fall so we’re not so dependent on spring. As a couple of wholesale growers, both from the Southeast, very eloquently stated, our industry has mastered squeezing everything we can out of the spring season. And while this year happened to be a very successful one, thanks to the improving economy and elevated consumer confidence, they said, “now is no time to celebrate.” “Spring is still Christmas in the horticulture industry, but we have done such a good job focusing on spring that we have neglected other seasons,” one grower said. “Having so many eggs in the spring basket is dangerous. Fall will never be what spring is, but having a solid second season is in […]

Read More
Mike McGroarty, owner of Mike’s Backyard Nursery

July 29, 2015

Backyard Success: Mike McGroarty Educates Aspiring Growers

Mike’s Backyard Nursery sits on a long, narrow, 5-acre property located in Perry, Ohio. There, customers can find a variety of flowering shrubs available, all in 2-quart pots, and all for sale for $5.97 each. Owner Mike McGroarty, a lifelong resident of Perry, says the town has a lot of plant nurseries, including 100 wholesale growers within a 10-mile radius of his house. That doesn’t discourage McGroarty, because he knows that while there are a lot of nurseries in his area, no one else is doing what he is doing. McGroarty has learned about plants — and marketing them to his audience — through decades of experience. He has never hesitated to pass along his knowledge to other growers looking to start their own backyard operations, and has created an entire program to educate aspiring growers. McGroarty Likes To Practice What He Preaches McGroarty’s operation serves as the laboratory for […]

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