OMAFRA CEA Webinar Series: Smart Sensors for Floriculture

Ever thought your plants were looking a little chlorotic, but didn’t want to waste time or money on tests? What if an smartphone app could tell you their nitrogen level? What if low cost sensors could help you monitor plant growth and tell you when PGRs are needed?

Having previously covered topics such as artificial intelligence and smart spraying, OMAFRA is continuing it’s CEA Webinar series, looking specifically at smart sensors. And they don’t have to be anything fancy to help you monitor your crop.

Although “floriculture” is in the title, the sensors and apps Dr. Krishna Nemali from Purdue University will discuss have applications across all avenues of controlled environment agriculture. Keep reading for details on the webinar, and how to register.

Knowing when to apply PGRs to crops like poinsettia is critical. A smart phone app could help make things easier with less staff training.
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Water DNA Tests: Pros, Cons and Interpreting Results

This post was written by S. Jandricic and A. Wylie.

Overhead boom irrigation

This is the fourth article in a series about water sanitation. The goal of this series is to get you reflecting on your own irrigation system before you are faced with a problem.  The first post covered where problems are likely to occur in your greenhouse ; the 2nd covered the types of pathogens found in water and the 3rd covered where and how to sample your water.

Once you’ve got your water sample, this post will cover why water DNA tests are useful, and how to interpret the results. This is the next step towards identifying and then treating your water issues to prevent unnecessary fungal or bacterial disease in your greenhouse crops, and potentially save you thousands of dollars in crop losses or fungicide applications.

These posts make good refresher resources, so make sure to bookmark them!

Continue reading “Water DNA Tests: Pros, Cons and Interpreting Results”

Poinsettia Production Tips: 2021

Poinsettias on Cruise Control | Greenhouse Industry Roundtable of ...

Poinsettia cuttings being rooted. Photo courtesy of Ohio State University.

Now that poinsettias are safely tucked into their prop trays and the threat of Erwinia (Pectobacterium) is almost over, it’s time to think about other poinsettia issues.

Root rots, nutritional issues, environmental stress and PGR mistakes can all be costly in this high-value crop.

Read on for common pitfalls and how to avoid them, and for some great video resources on poinsettia production.

Continue reading “Poinsettia Production Tips: 2021”

Spotted Lanternfly – Getting Too Close for Comfort!

SpottedLanternFly
Photo from the Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Lately, you might have heard a lot about a certain invasive pest in the news – the Spotted Lanternfly. This objectively beautiful but damaging species is a pest of certain trees, grape vines, and other horticultural crops.

Spotted in North America as early as 2012, specimens of the invasive spotted lanternfly have now been detected in Michigan, New York and Quebec. Do Ontario ornamental crop growers need to be worried? Keep reading to find out!*

(*This post was was originally posted on the ONFruit blog and was amended by S. Jandricic for relevance to the ornamental industry).

What is a Spotted Lanternfly?

Spotted lanternfly fourth (final) instar nymph (immature). Note the color change to red and black with white spots. Photo courtesy of Gregory Hoover.
Spotted Lanternfly nymph (immature stage).

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant hopper, originally from Asia. They feed on the sap of plants. As with any sap-sucking pest (like aphids and whitefly), their feeding can causing wilting and dieback of plants when present in high numbers. Like aphids and whitefly, they also produce copious amounts of honeydew, resulting in the growth of sooty molds.

Crops at Risk

There are over 70 documented hosts in North America. The main hosts include grapevines, fruit trees (apple, peach, plum, cherry), hops and hardwoods (black walnut, maple).

However, certain ornamental tree and vine species can also be hosts, including Japanese maple, lilac, and virginia creeper. The biggest red flag for the ornamental industry on this list of susceptible host plants is certainly roses, including Beach and Japanese rose shrubs. Thankfully, other common ornamentals grown by the greenhouse floriculture industry (including perennials and outdoor cut flowers), do not appear to be hosts.

Spotted lanternfly swarm on grapevine
Swarm of spotted lanternfly on grapevines. (Credit: Erica Smyers, Penn State University).

Reports of economic injury in Pennsylvania, where this pest has established, have occurred in commercial vineyards, where swarm feeding has resulted in yield loss, decreased sugar content in harvested grapes, and weakening and death of vines. For trees, heavy feeding from spotted lanternfly feeding doesn’t usually kill the tree but is a stressor and some dieback can occur.

Early Detection is Critical

With ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as roses, on it’s list of potential targets, it essential that ALL agricultural operations keep their eye out for this pest, ESPECIALLY when receiving shipments from areas where Spotted Lanternfly has been spotted or is established (see Distribution, below).

Although established populations have NOT been found in Canada (yet), it’s moving closer and closer to our Ontario border with recent detections in New York and Michigan.

Early detection of any spotted lanternfly sightings is CRUCIAL so we can act quickly and limit its spread. Report any suspected finds immediately to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) online or by calling 1-800-442-2342.

Distribution

Native to Asia, spotted lanternfly was identified in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite containment efforts, this pest has spread further and established populations are now found in various regions across the United States.

Map of spotted lanternfly reports in northeastern regions of United States show infestation present in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersery and Connecticut. Individual finds also reported in New York, Maine and North Carolina.
Map of spotted lanternfly reports in the northeastern regions of the United States, as of October 29, 2020. (Source: New York State Integrated Pest Management, Cornell University).

In September 2020, the CFIA confirmed the identification of two dead spotted lanternflies on commercial trucks travelling from Pennsylvania to Quebec, illustrating the pests’ capacity for being spread quickly over large geographic areas by human activities.

Be Prepared

The spotted lanternfly is an excellent hitchhiker. Adults can cling to cars and trucks moving at high speeds for long distances. Females indiscriminately lay eggs on any smooth surface (vehicles, stones, lawn furniture, etc.); egg masses are difficult to detect, can be moved over great distances, and represent the life stage adapted to overwintering. 

Sticky tree band is wrapped around large tree trunk at eye level of adult.
OMAFRA staff putting up a sticky tree band to monitor for spotted lanternfly in 2018.

With so many different pathways and potential points of entry, monitoring presents a big challenge. In 2016 and 2018, OMAFRA monitored high risk areas using sticky tree bands. No spotted lanternfly was detected, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Ontario is a big province!  

In 2019, a Canadian Spotted Lanternfly Education and Outreach Committee was formed. Members include the Invasive Species Centre, CFIA, OMAFRA, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, industry representatives and city foresters.

Currently, the best plan of attack for Ontario is to have as many trained eyes as possible on the look-out for this unique-looking invasive insect.

Know What to Look For

In the mid-Atlantic states, overwintering egg masses are laid through the fall. The egg masses usually have about 30 to 50 eggs and are laid in parallel lines.

Spotted lanternfly egg masses: (a) Fresh egg masses have a waxy coating. (b) In older egg masses, the waxy coating starts to crack. (c) Eventually, the waxy coating begins to come off. In this picture, some eggs have hatched.
(Credits: (a) Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org), (b) & (c) Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org)

Nymphs begin to appear in the late spring.  They feed and move almost constantly. Keep a close eye on grapes, tree-of-heaven, black walnut, butternut, willow, birch, sumac and roses around your property as nymphs seem to prefer these hosts. Late instar nymphs tend to cluster together on preferred hosts, such as tree-of-heaven and black walnut.

Spotted lanternfly nymphs: (a) Early instar nymphs are black with white spots. (b) Late instar nymphs are red and black with white spots.
(Credits: (a) Emelie Swack
hamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, (b) Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

Adults appear mid-July and are active until they are killed by cold temperatures.  In vineyards, adults tend to show up along borders first. There are reports that spotted lanternfly adults are poor flyers; however, they can travel a long distance with the right conditions.

Spotted lanternfly adult: (a) Front wings are pale with black spots at the front and dark net-like bands at the tips. (b) Rear wings have bands of red, black and white. (Credits: (a) Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, (b) Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

There is one generation of spotted lanternfly per year. Recent observations show that spotted lanternfly does not require tree-of-heaven to survive, but comprehensive information on host use requires additional research.

Life cycle of spotted lanternfly: egg masses are present September until the following May, early nymph activity begins April until July, late nymph activity begins July until September, adult activity begins July until October.
Lifecycle of spotted lanternfly. Timing of each life stage is based on information from Pennsylvania, US.
(Credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Management in the United States

In the US, research is being conducted to develop better tools for monitoring and management. You will find the latest information on Penn State Extension’s spotted lanternfly website.

Current management in the US includes:

  • Remove and destroy egg masses –Scrape off into a container and place in alcohol (hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, other). Check vehicles, farm equipment and other hard surfaced items thoroughly for egg masses if coming from infested areas.
  • Remove tree-of heaven – May help reduce numbers but may not be practical if present in large numbers. Herbicides can be applied to control suckers. Since other hosts may prove suitable to complete development, attempts at eradicating tree-of-heaven as a management strategy may prove ineffective. 
  • Use sticky tree bands – Helps reduce numbers of nymphs. To avoid catching non-target organisms, use large-gauge mesh over the band, or alternatively, inward-facing sticky bands to intercept nymphs as they climb up host trees. Research to develop better traps is ongoing.
  • Encourage natural enemies – This includes spiders, assassin bugs, praying mantis and others that prey on spotted lanternfly. Relying on natural enemies alone may not be enough to control a high population. Parasitic wasps have been identified in China but require evaluation for non-target effects. 
  • Use insect-pathogenic fungi – Fungal pathogens, such as Beauveria bassiana, are being evaluated. The entomopathogenic fungus Baktoa major has been found in association with SLF in Pennsylvania and appears to be highly virulent against the pest.
  • Apply insecticides – Products containing bifenthrin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, carbaryl, fenpropathrin, malathion or zeta-cypermethrin provide effective control of nymphs and adults. Chlorpyrifos is the only active ingredient that gave high mortality of eggs. Mineral oil has shown egg mortality of up to 71%. For landscape trees, they have used tree injections, trunk sprays or soil drenches with certain neonicotinoid insecticides with excellent results. 

Where We Go From Here

Although Spotted Lanterfly hasn’t shown up in Ontario yet, OMAFRA is already taking steps besides monitoring. As we do not have any registered uses for the control of spotted lanternfly in Canada, this pest has been prioritized through the Minor Use Program for high-risk crops.

Although this pest may seem concerning to many – remember – we’ve been through this before (I’m looking at YOU, Japanese beetle!). As with JB, different agencies within Canada will work together with growers and industry groups to develop action plans to both protect Canadian crops and maintain market access, should this pest make it to Ontario.

Surface Water Quality Management Webinar for Growers – Jan 26

Reposted from ONnurserycrops

Dealing appropriately with water issues is arguably one of the most important concerns facing today’s horticultural sector. There are numerous regulations at municipal, provincial and federal levels that govern access to water as well as the implications associated with run-off water.

Growers have responded by constructing elaborate pond and water recycling systems but are now challenged to maintain the quality of water in their pond systems to keep their modern irrigation systems operable.

In this webinar Dr. Jeanine West will share water quality management strategies based on her expertise and preliminary research findings. Time will be allocated for Q&A. Keep reading for registration information.

Continue reading “Surface Water Quality Management Webinar for Growers – Jan 26”

Nutrient Solution Analysis Projects for Greenhouses and Vertical Farms in Ontario (Flowers, Vegetables and Cannabis)

This post was written by Fadi Al-Daoud and Cara McCreary, greenhouse vegetable specialists with OMAFRA, and originally appeared on the ONgreenhousevegetables blog.

Subirrigation in a dutch tray of gerbera plants

The quality of water and nutrient solution used in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) production systems, such as greenhouses and vertical farms, is one of the most important factors that affect plant health and yield. Growers monitor water and nutrient solution quality by sending samples for analysis to determine the levels of nutrients and salts. They also use sensors to monitor pH and electrical conductivity (EC) regularly to determine necessary adjustments for the nutrient solution. Growers may also analyze the microbiome, the genetic material of all the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in their water and nutrient solution, to evaluate levels of harmful pathogens, such as Pythium and Phytophthora species that cause root rot.

Continue reading “Nutrient Solution Analysis Projects for Greenhouses and Vertical Farms in Ontario (Flowers, Vegetables and Cannabis)”

Poinsettia Production Refresher: 2020

Poinsettias on Cruise Control | Greenhouse Industry Roundtable of ...

Poinsettia cuttings being rooted. Photo courtesy of Ohio State University.

Now that poinsettias are safely tucked into their prop trays and the threat of Erwinia (Pectobacterium) is almost over, it’s time to think about other Poinsettia issues.

Root rots, nutritional issues, environmental stress and PGR mistakes can all be costly in this high-value crop.  Read on for common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Continue reading “Poinsettia Production Refresher: 2020”

Is Your Water a Source of Plant Disease? How to Sample and Find Out.

Old rustic water pipe with running drinking water and plastic bottle being filled up, aid concept.

After reading the previous posts in this series, you’re now aware of WHICH pathogens can be spread through your irrigation water, WHERE they can accumulate, and WHY that’s important.  We’re now moving on to posts covering WHAT you can do about it!

This post will walk you through how to sample water sources on your farm, and which tests you can run to determine if your water is helping – or hurting – your crop.

Continue reading “Is Your Water a Source of Plant Disease? How to Sample and Find Out.”

Diagnostics from a Distance: 5 tips on how to get the answers you need

IMG_4760How do you get help in this day and age when your extension agent or consultant can’t just pop into your greenhouse and look at a problem with you? Although nothing can replace seeing an issue first-hand, there is still a way to get help with your pest and production issues from a distance.

This post will give you tips on key information you need to send, and how to take good photos, to make getting quick and accurate answers from experts easier via email or messaging.

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Which Thrips are in Your Flower Crops (Part II): How to ID and Control Onion Thrips

Thrips-tabaci-female-1-1024x683

Thrips tabaci, or Onion thrips. Photo courtesy of Thrips-ID.com.

If you were at the Canadian Greenhouse Conference (or are regularly reading this blog!) you’d know we’ve recently identified Onion thrips as a pest of floriculture crops in Ontario (see this post).

Outside of Ontario?  Well, this still may apply to you, as a recent study in France also indicated that up to 47% of pest thrips in floriculture greenhouses were Onion thrips.  So, this issue could be wide-spread.

My last post covered the extent of the problem in Ontario’s industry.  This post will help you identify if YOU are dealing with Onion thrips (OT) along with Western flower thrips (WFT), and what to do about it.

 

Continue reading “Which Thrips are in Your Flower Crops (Part II): How to ID and Control Onion Thrips”