Whether you’re an indoor grower, an outdoor grower, or simply have plants growing naturally in your area, integrated pest management (IPM) is an essential aspect of maintaining the health and strength of your plants while curbing potential environmental impacts and minimizing any possible risks to people.
IPM is a means of preventing and eliminating unwanted or harmful pests from an agricultural environment without damaging the surrounding ecosystem or putting the humans that care for or use the plants at risk. Rather than thoughtlessly spraying pesticides to eliminate unwanted organisms, IPM makes better use of resources by employing a combination of techniques to create an environment that is inhospitable for pests, causing them to disappear naturally while making plants more resistant.
IPM is a process that works overtime not only to rid plants of pests that are already present but more importantly to prevent the attraction of more pests in the future. It is important first to understand the types of pests in your area and to which the plants are the most susceptible so that the proper steps can be taken to create an environment in which they can’t survive and keep the ecosystem balanced. Once you have an understanding of the potential pests your plants are at risk of attracting, you can begin to employ the techniques involved in IPM, such as environmental controls and habitat manipulation.
Types of Pests
The particular type of plant as well as its agricultural environment has a massive impact on the types of pests it will attract. Cannabis has nearly 300 insect pests associated with it, though most of them do not cause enough damage to garner much concern. The more serious of these pests include aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, mites, and chewing bugs.
Depending on the stage that the plant is in and its location, indoors or outdoors, you may find a variety of different pests attached to your plants. Some of the common pests that frequently affect cannabis are as follows:
- Seedling stage pests: Cut-worms, birds, hemp flea beetles, crickets, slugs, and rodents
- Outdoor plant pests:
- Leaves and flowers: Hemp borers, budworms, leafminers, green stink bugs
- Stalk and stem: Borers and beetle grubs
- Roots: Grubs, root maggots, termites, ants, fungus gnats, and wireworms
- Indoor plant pest:
- Leaves and flowers: Spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and leafhoppers
- Greenhouse infestations: Mealybugs, scales, and true bugs
Though it may seem rare for indoor plants to attract living pests like insects, there are smaller pests that can make their way inside through cracks or holes, so be sure to seal up the area as much as possible and utilize filters to prevent unwanted guests from entering through the ventilation system.
Cannabis plants are often more susceptible to diseases when grown inside rather than outside, as improper habitat control can encourage the presence of certain fungi or bacteria and the tight quarters allow diseases to spread more quickly from plant to plant. The most common diseases affecting indoor plants are powdery mildew, gray mold, and pythium, a root disease. Luckily, with careful ventilation and humidity control, these can be easily prevented. Plant inspection is key, so be sure to check plants daily for the presence of mold or mildew. It is extremely important to wear fresh, clean clothes when tending to plants as well because microscopic spores can make their way into the greenhouse from outdoors by attaching to fabric.
Types of Controls
The best way to protect your plants, as well as the environment and yourself, is to create a plan that employs a combination of controls, designed to cater specifically to the type of plant and the environment surrounding it. There are four main types of controls when it comes to utilizing IPM:
- Biological control: The use of a pest’s natural enemies to eliminate it or drive it away. Enemies may include predators, parasites, pathogens, or competitors.
- Cultural controls: Careful regulation of the plant’s environment and the methods used to support growth, such as watering techniques and humidity levels.
- Mechanical and physical controls: The use of traps, barriers, or cleaning methods to prevent pests and diseases from coming into contact with plants.
- Chemical control: The use of safe, selective pesticides that only impact harmful pests without affecting the health of the plant, the quality of the product, or the environment.
Why is IPM Important?
Pests are an unavoidable aspect of cultivation that can be extremely detrimental to business and the overall quality of products when not managed properly. The use of pesticides without proper research into their effect on the environment can cause even more harm to both the product and business, as humans are also at risk of being harmed by the chemicals present in some pesticides. IPM presents a solution to pest problems without creating more issues with production quality by eliminating the risks involved with pesticides and facilitating the growth of a happier, healthier plant within a carefully balanced ecosystem.
Klone and IPM
We take IPM very seriously. We select clones that are strong and will meet client expectations. Customers can meet our growers, discuss IPM and feel comfortable about the plants they are receiving. We can follow up with your growers, making sure you are getting the desired results. Your success is our success!