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...
Damage to Cannabis Buds from Hemp Russet Mite

October 22, 2017

Take Control of Mites in Cannabis Crops

Mite pests have become a problem for cannabis growers. To reduce crop losses, follow these best practices for better best management.

Read More
Whitefly adult

October 13, 2017

Researchers Continue to Keep Close Tabs on Whitefly

Dr. Lance Osborne of the University of Florida and Dr. Cindy McKenzie of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are evaluating insecticide efficacy and the impact of product rotations on whitefly biotype populations.

Read More
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

September 4, 2017

How to Successfully Integrate Biocontrols Into Greenhouse Floriculture Production

The widespread adoption of biocontrol in Canadian floriculture greenhouses grew out of necessity. The lessons they learned can help you incorporate these tools in your production.

Read More
Latest Stories
Damage to Cannabis Buds from Hemp Russet Mite

October 22, 2017

Take Control of Mites in Cannabis Crops

Mite pests have become a problem for cannabis growers. To reduce crop losses, follow these best practices for better best management.

Read More
Whitefly adult

October 13, 2017

Researchers Continue to Keep Close Tabs on Whitefly

Dr. Lance Osborne of the University of Florida and Dr. Cindy McKenzie of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are evaluating insecticide efficacy and the impact of product rotations on whitefly biotype populations.

Read More
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

September 4, 2017

How to Successfully Integrate Biocontrols Into Greenhou…

The widespread adoption of biocontrol in Canadian floriculture greenhouses grew out of necessity. The lessons they learned can help you incorporate these tools in your production.

Read More
Aphids On Older Leaves

August 8, 2017

OHP Launches New Insecticidal Soap, Gains New Registrat…

OHP is making two new crop protection tools available to greenhouse growers: Kopa, an insecticidal soap, and California registration for Ancora, a microbial insecticide.

Read More
Cannabis Crop Protection

July 27, 2017

Keep Pests Out of Your Cannabis Facilities

Prevention of pest introduction is the most critical first step in an effective pest management program.

Read More
Aphids

July 7, 2017

New Tools for Your Crop Protection Arsenal in the Green…

Over the past few months, crop protection companies have developed several new products designed to help you manage a wide range of insect and disease pests. Here’s a look at some of them.

Read More
Yellow Stick Card for thrips

July 5, 2017

Tips From a Top 100 Grower for Effective Thrips Control

A combination of conventional materials and biologicals can help provide season-long management of thrips in hanging baskets.

Read More
Scale on leaf nodes

July 2, 2017

Why Biological Control Fails: Encapsulation May be the …

If your biological control isn’t working for you, encapsulation could be to blame. Learn how this defensive response can cripple a biological control program.

Read More
Koppert Ulti-Mite Swirski sachet

June 21, 2017

New Tool from Koppert Provides More Effective Thrips Ma…

A newly patented sachet for the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii is resistant to both low and high levels of humidity, helping growers combat thrips infestations.

Read More
Cannabis Seedling

May 20, 2017

Biocontrols: A Practical Option for Cannabis

With limited options for chemical pest control, cannabis growers are incorporating biocontrols into their integrated pest management programs. More education will cement this solution as a viable option in this emerging market.

Read More
Four Lined Plant Bug

May 8, 2017

Four-Lined Plant Bug Emerges as Troublesome Pest in Pen…

Four-lined plant bug damage is very characteristic: circular brown to black spots about one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter. The spots are easily mistaken for disease or frost damage.

Read More

May 4, 2017

Bayer Altus Update: Neonic Insect Control Alternative N…

Altus, a butenolide class insecticide with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, will be available beginning May 1, and is labeled for greenhouse and nursery use on ornamental plants, vegetable transplants, and indoor vegetable production.

Read More
Ambrosia Beetle

April 7, 2017

Tips On How to ID Ambrosia Beetle Damage, And How to Co…

Ambrosia beetles are often overlooked as being a primary cause of plant loss, but research and experience are proving otherwise.

Read More

February 28, 2017

OHP Launches New Ovicide/Miticide, Announces Partnershi…

Applause is a new miticide that targets eggs and immature stages of several mite species. Through the Vestaron partnership, OHP will market Spear-O, a toxin-derived bioinsecticide.

Read More
Remote Sensing Feature

February 12, 2017

Using Remote Sensing to Optimize IPM in Greenhouses

Researchers at the University of California Davis are developing advanced remote sensing technologies to automate detection of insect pest infestations in greenhouses, which could revolutionize integrated pest management practices.

Read More
Adult Thrips feature

January 25, 2017

Tips to Stay Ahead of Aphids, Mites, and Thrips

Control these persistent pests with innovative chemistries that will expand your rotation options with new modes of action.

Read More
Effective pest control

January 12, 2017

Prevention and Early Intervention: The Keys to Biocont…

Advance preparation and starting out right helps you implement an effective biocontrol program that reduces pest pressure.

Read More
Two-spotted spider mites, adults and eggs

January 10, 2017

Pest Management Workshop to Take Place in Virginia on J…

Battlefield Farms will host the workshop, which is being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension and will focus on new techniques in disease and insect control.

Read More