Poinsettias are almost here! Instead of covering the whole crop cycle, this year we’re breaking posts down into 4 key growing periods: Receipt/Propagation, Early Production, Late Production, and Finishing.
This post on propagation will cover things you can do now to treat pests and diseases in your cuttings to prevent BIG problems later. And make sure to check out Dr. Chevonne Dayboll’s post from last week, on ensuring cutting quality.
This post was jointly written by Dr. Chevonne Dayboll and Dr. Sarah Jandricic
It’s time to think about spring again! This post gathers some of the most important things to plan and prep for in the greenhouse before your spring production begins in earnest.
1. Make sure your inputs are ordered
We can’t emphasize this one enough. COVID-19 and container boat issues are still causing shipping delays that are affecting many industries including greenhouses. Make sure you order potting mixes, plastic trays and pots, fertilizers, and production inputs well ahead of when you will need them. If you are planning on doing greenhouse upgrades in between seasons make sure you confirm delivery and installation timelines with your contractors. Many of them are facing delays too!
2. Now is the time for preventative maintenance
Now is a great time to schedule preventive maintenance for your boiler, irrigation and shading systems. Make sure that all motors and alarms are working before you need to rely on them. No one wants to find out that their temperature alarm failed on a cold February morning! Ensure you are getting the pressure you expect all along your irrigation system. If you rely on propane heaters for early spring production make sure they are venting properly. Damage from improper venting can present as stunted growth or leaf burn.
Take some time to inspect the greenhouse for wear-and-tear. Repair cracked poly and broken glass to keep heat from escaping. Make sure old torn energy curtains are replaced. A heat sensitive camera can help to identify areas of energy loss and help you plan for energy efficient upgrades in the future.
With the holiday season almost upon us, it’s time to turn our attention to Spring bedding crops. Although here for a brief window, the diversity of these crops means you’re bound to encounter some sort of disease and insect problems.
One way you can head off issues is to plan and prepare now. This post from January 2020 has important tips on sanitation for common spring crop diseases, dipsandearly sprays to prevent key pests, as well as tips on where to spend your biocontrol dollars.
With the holiday season over, it’s time to turn our attention to Spring bedding crops. Although here for a brief window, the diversity of these crops means you’re bound to encounter some sort of disease and insect problems.
One way you can head off issues is to plan and prepare now. This post has important tips on sanitation for common spring crop diseases, dipsandearly sprays to prevent key pests, as well as tips on where to spend your biocontrol dollars.
Echinothrips americanus is an interesting pest in Ontario. An occasional pest of little concern for some, its presence often plagues others (i.e. cut flower growers). The greenhouse research team at Wageningen University & Research has been working to find reliable, effective biocontrol strategies for this Echinothrips.
Read on for their latest update on what’s working, and how this applies to Canadian growers.
Note: This is a re-post but contains important information on use of DDVP (dichlorvos) with mite sachets. (See point 4!)
In 2017, I had an interaction with a grower where their long-standing biocontrol program for thrips suddenly seemed to be failing. After a (too long) investigation by myself, the grower, and consultants, we found out the horrible truth: their predatory mites were being MURDERED (Duh dun DUHNNN!)… By improper storage.
This post focuses on all the ways YOU might also be guilty of mite murder, and how to make sure your mites are still alive and kicking in those little sachets.
(And yes, I’ve stooped to the level of click-bait titles).
NOTE: This is a re-post because it now comes with an awesome new video of how to monitor you mite sachets!
Recently, I had an interaction with a grower where their long-standing biocontrol program for thrips suddenly seemed to be failing. After a (too long) investigation by myself, the grower, and several consultants, we found out the horrible truth: their predatory mite were being MURDERED (Duh dun DUHNNN!)… By improper storage.
This post focuses on whether YOU might also be guilty of mite murder. (And yes, I’ve stooped to the level of click-bait titles).
Now that the warm weather is finally upon us, it’s time to start worrying about thrips control.
What we’ve learned over the years is that pesticides just don’t cut it – the only reliable chemical for western flower thrips in Ontario is DDVP, which requires constant application. This means biological control is your best bet. Here’s a summary of the most effective tools, tricks, and timing, to ensure your biocontrol dollars are well spent.
Effective biocontrol programs for western flower thrips often usemultiple natural enemies. These includepredatory mites like N. cucumeris or A. swirskii, but also generalist predators like Atheta and Orius, which can feed on mite eggs and nymphs.
Well, now that I’ve gotten your attention, let’s be clear that I’m talking about bugs, here, people. Specifically, Western flower thrips and predatory mites such as N. cucumerisandA. swirskii.
We all know that predatory mites only kill and eat the small, first larval stage of thrips (referred to as L1’s). Larger life stages (i.e. L2’s and adult thrips) are simply too large for the mites to kill.
But, that doesn’t mean they don’t help control them.
Predatory mites will repeatedly attempt to kill L2 thrips – attacking them up to 40 times an hour (1). The L2 thrips are able to fend off these attacks by either running away, or “slapping” mites in the face with their abdomens. You can watch the hilarity that ensues when mites attempt to attack too-large thrips larvae here.
But this “harassment” by mites takes it’s toll on thrips. Because thrips spend more time fending off mites, they spend 30% less time feeding (2). Over time, this translates to 40% less damage on plants with predatory mites, compared to no mites (2). And, the presence of mites can reduce survival of L2 thrips by up to 78% (1), probably because eating less means the thrips lack the nutritional reserves to complete development.
And all of this is accomplished just through “intimidation” of thrips by mites – not through consumption. Scientists term these “non-consumptive” effects, and we are just starting to learn the importance of these effects in biological control. Research is now suggesting that non-consumptive effects like “harassment” may actually account for 50% of the pest control we see in greenhouses (3).
This makes sense with our thrips example. Not only do mites reduce the feeding and survival of larval thrips, but ongoing research from Cornell University shows that the presence of mites reduces the number of eggs laid by adult thrips, and shortens adult thrips lifespan (4). Even the presence of predatory mite eggs on a plant has been shown to “scare” L1 thrips into eating less, according to research from Austria (5).
And, it would make sense that the more mites you have, the higher the number of “scary” encounters thrips will have with them, improving control.
So, lets give a hand to the hard working, harassing, predatory mite, who’s doing more than we ever thought in floriculture IPM. Stay creepy, little guys. Stay creepy.
References: (1) Jandricic, S.E., Schmidt, D., Bryant, G., and Frank, S.P, NC State University. Unpublished data. (2) Jandricic, S.E. and Frank, S.P. 2014. Too scared to eat: non-consumptive effects of predatory mites. IOBC/wprs Bulletin 102: 111-115; (3) Preisser, E. L, Bolnick, D. I., & Benard, M. F. 2005: Scared to death? The effects of intimidation and consumption in predator-prey interactions. Ecology 86: 501-509. (4) Loughner, R., and Nyrop, J. Cornell University. Unpublished data. (5) Walzer, A., & Schausberger, P. 2009: Non-consumptive effects of predator mites on thrips and its host plant. Oikos 118: 934-940.