REMINDER: GrowON Webinar on Onion Thrips Control TOMORROW! (Thurs Aug. 25th)

Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) are an increasing pest of greenhouse ornamentals, strawberries, vegetables, and even cannabis. Why is this, and what can growers do about it?

To learn more about this emerging pest, register for the latest GrowON webinar – a webinar series JUST for covered crops!

Click on the image to register or see the link below!

Continue reading “REMINDER: GrowON Webinar on Onion Thrips Control TOMORROW! (Thurs Aug. 25th)”

GrowON Webinar, Thurs Aug. 25th: What We Know About Onion Thrips as Pest of Covered Crops

Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) are an increasing pest of greenhouse ornamentals, strawberries, vegetables, and even cannabis. Why is this, and what can growers do about it?

To learn more about this emerging pest, register for the latest GrowON webinar – a webinar series JUST for covered crops!

Click on the image to register or see the link below!

Continue reading “GrowON Webinar, Thurs Aug. 25th: What We Know About Onion Thrips as Pest of Covered Crops”

Tropical Thrips Species Intercepted on Plant Material in Ontario: Be Aware – But Don’t Panic.

This post was co-written by A. Summerfield (Vineland Research and Innovation Centre) and S. Jandricic.

Figure 1. Thrips parvispinus is generally dark coloured (though the head and thorax can be lighter than the abdomen), has bright red ocelli and clear patches at the top of its wings.

Increases in global trade, along with decreased use of harsher broad-spectrum pesticides makes it easier for insect species to move around the world. Because of this, it is becoming more common to find unusual pests coming in on plant material. It’s important that we are prepared and know what to do when something like a new thrips species makes an appearance.

The tropical thrips species Thrips parvispinus has been popping up in various parts of the globe in recent years and was intercepted on plant material in two Ontario greenhouses in 2021/2022. Read on to learn what we know about this species and what you should do if you suspect you have them.

Continue reading “Tropical Thrips Species Intercepted on Plant Material in Ontario: Be Aware – But Don’t Panic.”

Poinsettia Pest Management Pointers: Receipt Through Potting Up.

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.

Continue reading “Poinsettia Pest Management Pointers: Receipt Through Potting Up.”

New Virus in Calibrachoa – Identification and Treatment.

Dark green and yellow mottling symptom on foliage. Photo by Heidi Lindberg, MSU Extension.

Several diagnostic labs in the Northeast U.S., as well as our own lab here at the University of Guelph, have received diseased calibrachoa suspected to have chili pepper mild mottle virus (CPMMoV). The supplier has alerted growers of this issue.

Although CPMMoV is NOT a regulated disease by CFIA or the USDA, it can still affect the quality of your crop and lead to losses.

Read on for a link to an excellent blog post on the topic written by Michigan State University Extension. This includes symptoms to look out for, the importance of testing, and what to do if you have it.

Continue reading “New Virus in Calibrachoa – Identification and Treatment.”

Upcoming Webinar: Root Rots – What You Can’t See CAN Hurt you.

Its a busy time in the greenhouse, but our next topic is timely! Rot rots like Fusarium, Pythium and black root rot are often the bane of spring bedding crops. Dr. Mary Hausbeck, a Distinguished Professor from Michigan State University, is going to share her vast knowledge on this topic, including which fungicides work best. Check out the details below, and don’t forget to register!

Continue reading “Upcoming Webinar: Root Rots – What You Can’t See CAN Hurt you.”

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.
Continue reading “OMAFRA CEA Webinar Series: Smart Sensors for Floriculture”

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.