Top 100 Greenhouse Growers Talk Crop Protection

Swirskii predatory mites and eggsc crop protection

Photo credit: Biobee

The Top 100 greenhouse growers say one of their chief concerns when it comes to crop protection is looking for ways to deal with insect pressures — whether by deploying traditional chemistry, biological-based solutions, or sometimes both, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2019 Top 100 Growers Survey.

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Thrips and aphids top the list of pest pressures, and growers are increasingly deploying biological-based crop protection solutions to manage these types of threats.

Biologicals Are Big Business

Eighty-three percent of growers responding to the Top 100 survey reported using beneficial insects to control pests, followed by biopesticides and microbial products (53%), biostimulant products (34%), and those who don’t currently use biological products (6%).Many growers view their expertise around these novel products as rather elementary, with a combined 70% of respondents classifying their knowledge of these products somewhere between the beginner or advanced stage, while around 21% say they are biocontrols experts.

An Integrated Program Still Key

Top 100 Growers continue to use a combination of biocontrols and traditional-based chemistries to approach to pest management. For example, one survey respondent mentioned that he relies on “early preventative cleanup and sprays, as well as sachets of Amblyseius cucumeris” to control thrips. There appears to be a need industry-wide for continuing education around using biological products in conjunction with traditional chemistries, as quite a few respondents said that staff training is needed in the area of biological product integration (35%).

Growers Talk Challenges

Other responses from Top 100 Growers on how they are handling their biggest crop protection issues include:

“[We struggle with] thrips and mealy bugs on succulents. We are rotating pesticides and scouting more frequently.”

“Aphids and whiteflies are our biggest problems. We wash off our tables and clean out greenhouses after each crop.”

Another grower indicated “Integrated Pest Management improvements” as the one area they can focus on in the next 12 months to drive profits higher in 2019.

Level of Experience of Growers Using Biocontrols in 2019

Top 100 SurveyState of the Industry Survey
Expert: 21%Expert: 3%
Advanced: 41%Advanced: 16%
Intermediate: 29%Intermediate: 37%
Beginner: 9%Beginner: 43%
It appears from comparing data between our annual Top 100 Growers and State of the Industry surveys that Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers are a bit ahead of the greater industry curve on their level of experience handling and deploying biological products in the greenhouse.