Greenhouse Management conducted exclusive market research to learn how growers across North America administer integrated pest management plans, budget for insect control, scout for pests and much more. Our survey of more than 300 growers revealed that most scouting crews include one to four people and more than 60% of respondents concentrate on preventative measures. Also in this special supplement, learn more about scouting techniques, rotation best management practices, biocontrol basics, pesticide safety and the pilea aphid. Editor’s note: Due to rounding, not all percentages add up to 100.
IPM plans and pesky pests
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed reported they have an integrated pest management plan. This is positive news since an IPM approach focuses on managing pests through a combination of cultural, physical, biological and chemical methods, which help control costs and creates more efficient strategies. Of those who said they don’t have an IPM plan, 61% expect to implement one in the next 12 months.
Aphids, thrips and mites were the top three most problematic pests. In the “other” category, several respondents are battling Japanese beetles and flea beetles, as well as snails and slugs.
Scouting and pest management problems
On average, up to four people scout for pests and primarily spend more than 100 hours scouting during a 12-month period. More than half of those surveyed reported they scout daily for insect pests.
Price was reported as the biggest insect control management problem facing growers, followed by loss of profit from pest damage. Several respondents that picked “other” revealed that re-entry intervals were their biggest problem.
Budgets and processes When it comes to costs, more than half of respondents budget less than $5,000 for pest management expenses. Some 61% of those surveyed said their pest management processes are preventative, rather than curative. And just over half of respondents deal with customers who ask that certain chemistries be restricted from use on plants. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they use a form of biocontrol to battle pests. Of those who use biocontrol, 84% said they use biocontrol measures in conjunction with traditional pest control methods. Half of those surveyed who do not currently use biocontrol said they plan to adopt some form of biocontrol method in the next 12 months. The need for more education and a lack of confidence in products were the main reasons cited for not using biocontrol.
Myzus fataunae Shinji
State of the Market: Insect Control Report - State of the Market: Insect Control Report Pest Profile
Inspect all incoming Pilea spp. shipments for this destructive aphid.
Last year, the Florida Department of Plant Industry collected a sample of aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) infested with all life stages of Myzus fataunae Shinji, the pilea aphid. This aphid is native to Japan and Korea, and this was the first record of the species in the Western Hemisphere. The discovery was made in Longwood, Florida (Seminole County). M. fataunae appears to feed on all aboveground parts of the plant but favors new growth and petioles.
With the explosive popularity of pilea plants in the United States, it’s imperative that growers and retailers inspect all incoming plants for this aphid.
Hosts include: Pilea cadierei, P. pumila, other ornamental pilea, false nettle (Boehmeria spp.) and pellitory (Parietaria spp.).
Scouting: A hand lens is necessary to survey for M. fataunae. Other aphids may be present on the host and potential host plants, but the target will stand out by its small size and distinct bicoloration. The wingless adults are two-toned, with a brown head and thorax and yellow abdomen. Young immatures are entirely greenish white, while older instars develop the bicoloration. Most diagnostic characteristics cannot be seen without high-powered optics.
Cut potentially infested plant parts and place them in a vial of alcohol. Alternatively, separate foliage from roots (to prevent soil particles from obscuring aphids) and beat it against the side of a shallow white tray; then, tap the plant material over the tray using a pencil. Inspect dislodged debris on the tray using a hand lens and, with a brush, transfer the aphids into alcohol.
Source: Katherine E. O. Fairbanks, Susan E. Halbert; Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry, Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology
State of the Market: Insect Control Report - State of the Market: Insect Control Report Safety
Ensure that safety, security and environmental impact are all considered when storing pesticides.
Proper pesticide storage can prevent accidents that could cause property or environmental damage. Check with local regulators for the requirements in your state.
A well-designed storage facility has four components:
A storage cabinet, room or building
A mixing area
An area for loading and rinsing spray equipment
A place to store and secure equipment and records, including MSDS and an emergency response plan
The best location for storage is in an area that isolates chemical fumes and dust from employees. This is often a separate building protected from flooding and the potential of fire from other buildings. Some states have regulations that restrict the distance the storage is located from surface water, public water supply, private wells and farm buildings. If a storage cabinet or room is located in the headhouse, place it away from the office and work areas. Place it along an outside wall so ventilation can be provided.
For small quantities, a steel cabinet is all you need, and it should have a containment area in the bottom to catch any spills or leaks.
For larger quantities, a storage locker is a good choice. These are waterproof structures that can be located either inside or outside. Most are made in a modular size so they can be expanded. They also have floor containment and a ramp for access.
Cabinets and lockers can be purchased as fire-rated or non-fire-rated units. Before making a purchase, review Material Safety Data Sheets to determine if the stored pesticides are flammable. If so, the storage cabinet should be UL-rated or Factory Mutual System approved. This will lower insurance costs.
Pesticides should be stored between 40° and 90° F. A small electric heater with a thermostat and fan works well to maintain the temperature above freezing in a small unit. A hot-air furnace may be needed in a larger facility.
Good ventilation removes excess heat, chemical vapors and moisture from the storage area. Install a two-speed fan, ducted to the outside. Operation at a continuous low-speed rate of about one room volume change per hour helps prevent a buildup of toxic fumes. The higher rate (about six air changes per hour) can be activated together with the light switch when the area is occupied.
A motorized intake shutter about 1.5 times the fan area should be installed in the wall opposite the fan. It should open when the fan turns on. A relay that turns off the furnace when the fan is on should be installed.
Mixing and loading
Locate the mixing area near where the pesticides are stored. If it is inside the headhouse, provide an isolated room with ventilation. The mixing area should contain a work surface with measuring equipment. A water supply and sink are needed for chemical preparation and clean-up. Install a fume hood over the mixing table to draw fumes away from the person preparing the spray material.
The base of the loading area is usually constructed of concrete with a watertight surface impervious to chemicals. A surface coating of epoxy is used to seal the concrete. A berm around the base should be installed to provide containment and provide a volume of 110 percent of the capacity of the largest sprayer.
A sump should be installed in one corner to collect any spilled material. The liquid can be pumped to a storage tank for use in subsequent applications. Portable containment pads made of vinyl or nylon-reinforced elastomer are available. They should be placed on a level surface while filling or cleaning equipment.
A drench shower and eye wash should be nearby.
A pesticide spill kit with absorbent mats, pillows, granular absorbent, hydrated lime, sodium hypochlorite and a drum patch kit should be on hand for small spills. A broom, shovel, squeegee, plastic pails and bags will help in cleanup.
John Bartok Jr. is faculty emeritus, University of Connecticut, Department of Natural Resources Management and Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org
State of the Market: Insect Control Report - State of the Market: Insect Control Report Biocontrol
Before adding biocontrol agents to your IPM program, make sure you’re asking the right questions of potential suppliers.
Greenhouse Management spoke to Dr. Norman C. Leppla, professor and program director, IPM at the University of Florida’s Entomology and Nematology Department about questions to ponder when considering biocontrol options.
Greenhouse Management: What is the one of the main points that growers should consider before beginning a biocontrol program?
Norman Leppla: Choosing a well-established supplier with a solid track record of serving customers is of utmost importance. Excellent customer service will be key as you begin and go through a biocontrol program. A good supplier will make sure you’re using their products appropriately. They’ll be upfront about availability and cost. And they’ll provide descriptions of target pests and their biology, as well as recommendations for applying and evaluating their products. They should provide the habitats and seasons in which the pests are encountered, developmental stages that are susceptible to parasitism or predation and relevant behavior of the natural enemies.
GM: What is the first step when considering or adopting a biocontrol program?
NL: The first step is commitment and trying it one season is not enough. That’s another reason you need good-quality customer service from your suppliers. You must commit to a different system that involves cultural practices; sanitation (you must control the movement of things in and out of the greenhouse, including people); scouting; and being very careful of the source of your plants. You must commit to a system that’s biologically based and integrated.
GM: What are some common mistakes that growers make when adopting a biocontrol program?
NL: There are two mistakes that often occur – growers only conduct short-term trials. Like I said, trying it only one season is not enough. The other is when a grower takes the DIY approach and doesn’t enlist the help and expertise of their suppliers or when they try to rear their own natural enemies. I know a few growers who rear their own natural enemies, but it takes time to gain the experience.
Another common mistake is when a grower thinks of biocontrol as the same system as chemical control. They may think they’ll just remove the chemical and just add the biological, which is not the case whatsoever.
GM: Once a grower receives natural enemies from a supplier, what should they do first?
NL: Sometimes temperature extremes or other problems occur during shipping, so growers should open packages immediately to detect any potential issues and to provide a more hospitable environment for the natural enemies. Look for condensation or a fermenting smell, and the number of living and dead organisms should be estimated.
The University of Florida IFAS Extension produced a publication that offers guidelines for purchasing natural enemies and biopesticides. (edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in849). And there’s a publication out of Canada written by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre that helps growers evaluate the natural enemies they purchase. (bit.ly/biocontrol_products).
GM: What else would you like growers to understand about biocontrol programs?
NL: First, it works. It’s not a myth or something for odd characters. It’s mainstream and it can work for you. In an IPM program, there are times and a place when you need to use a chemical intervention. I’m not opposed to pesticides at all but be aware of their impact on natural enemies.
There are market advantages to using biocontrol including health benefits, no regulatory concerns, and, in the long run, it can be a whole lot easier and less expensive.
Innovation rooted in customer insights
State of the Market: Insect Control Report - State of the Market: Insect Control Report Letter from the Sponsor
It is an honor to partner with Greenhouse Management and Nursery Management in supporting this “State of the Market” special report, as it is an important time for production ornamentals.
At Bayer, I help lead development of new solutions across the North American Environmental Science Division. In this role, I am fortunate to manage a team of dedicated and highly skilled scientists who conduct the extensive work necessary to ensure optimal performance for each innovation we introduce to greenhouse and nursery growers, as well as our many customers across Environmental Science.
We do this with one guiding principle: innovation without customer insight is not innovation. The Bayer team spends significant time working with customers, understanding key challenges and identifying what solutions in our pipeline are best positioned to drive value. We see three predominant themes in production ornamentals that are driving innovation: labor, stewardship and emerging pests.
Qualified labor is a fundamental challenge for the growth of the industry, making efficiency and profitability a critical focus. Bayer understands this challenge and supports growers by giving them back precious time in their days – our contribution to a better life for them. For years, growers have trusted Marengo® as the longest-lasting preemergence weed control on the market. With a residual of up to eight months, Marengo is a key tool for nursery growers, helping to eliminate repeat applications, postemergence applications, hand-weeding and other peripheral costs that hurt profitability.
Growers have always been dedicated environmental stewards, so themes like pollinator safety, compatibility with beneficials and Integrated Pest Management have become increasingly more prevalent. Meanwhile, big-box retailers and others have demanded neonicotinoid alternatives in the care and production of ornamental plants. Bayer introduced Altus® to the ornamentals market in 2017, and since then, greenhouse growers have noted its efficacy on piercing-sucking pests and its compatibility with honey bees, bumble bees and many beneficial insects. Developments like Altus as well as new biological solutions will continue to be a key focus for future innovation.
Insects, weeds and diseases continue to evolve – whether that means feeding on new plants, entering a new region or developing resistant populations. And growers will constantly need new solutions to manage these new challenges. Botrytis, for example, is widely considered to be the costliest disease in greenhouse management due to fungicide resistance. Last year, Bayer introduced Broadform® – an excellent rotational tool for control of Botrytis, leaf spot and other key foliar diseases. By working closely with customers, university researchers and our internal cohort of developmental scientists, we can continue to identify these needs and deliver new solutions for emerging pests.
Thank you, Greenhouse Management and Nursery Management, for sharing this important report with the countless growers who have spent their careers strengthening the industry and growing beautiful, healthy plants. Here’s to another incredible year!
Richard Rees Head of Environmental Science Field Solutions, North America, Bayer