Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in cannabis
Integrated pest management (IPM) is important when it comes to keeping cannabis plants healthy and productive. This is because cannabis can attract a lot of different pests and diseases that can cause problems. Biological control is a key component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in cannabis cultivation. It involves the use of natural predators, parasitoids, or beneficial organisms to manage pest populations.
Some of the common pests that you might find on cannabis plants are aphids, whitefly, thrips, spider mites, leaf miners, fungus gnats and shoreflies, mealybugs, scale, and other pest mites like broad mite and hemp russet mites. These pests can damage the plants, which results in less yield and quality.
Next to pests, cannabis plants can also suffer from plant diseases like bacterial infections, mold, and other fungal diseases. These diseases can make the plants weaker, slow down their growth, and affect the leaves and buds if you don't manage them properly.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is vital in cannabis cultivation because it effectively controls pests and diseases, promotes sustainable practices, delays pest resistance, ensures product safety and quality, offers long-term cost savings, aids regulatory compliance, maintains crop predictability, and aligns with consumer preferences for safe, eco-friendly products.
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Aphids pose a significant challenge in cannabis cultivation, with several prominent species specifically affecting the crop. Notably, the Cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii), the Potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae), the Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), the Cannabis aphid (Phorodon cannabis), and the Rice root aphid (Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominale) are among the key aphid species that can infest cannabis plants. These pests have the potential to cause substantial damage, as they feed on the plant's sap and reproduce rapidly. Their feeding activities can lead to stunted growth, distorted leaves, and even the transmission of viral diseases.
Leaf miners are a challenge to cannabis crops, and several species stand out as significant pests. Tomato leaf miner (Liriomyza bryoniae), Pea leaf miner (Liriomyza huidobrensis), and American serpentine leaf miner (Liriomyza trifolii) are among the most notorious leaf miner species affecting cannabis. These tiny insects lay their eggs in cannabis leaves, and the larvae that hatch proceed to tunnel through the leaf tissue, creating distinctive winding mines that can severely damage the foliage. As a result, the plant's ability to photosynthesize and produce energy is compromised, leading to reduced yields and overall weakened cannabis plants.
In some cases mealybugs can be a problem in cannabis. These small, soft-bodied insects feed on the sap of cannabis plants, causing stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves. Their waxy, cotton-like appearance makes them easily recognizable on the plant surfaces. Mealybug infestations can weaken cannabis plants and impact overall yields.
Caterpillars can present significant challenges to cannabis cultivation, with various species wreaking havoc on the plants. Two particularly notorious pests are the Hemp moth (Grapholita delineana) and the Beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua). The presence of Grapholita delineana caterpillars often leads to the manifestation of bud rot and decreased yield, as they tunnel into developing flower buds, leaving them susceptible to fungal infections. On the other hand, the voracious appetite of the Spodoptera poses a threat as they defoliate cannabis plants, weakening their overall health and vitality.
Thrips pose a persistent threat to cannabis crops, with species like Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) and Impatiens thrips (Echinothrips americanus) causing notable concern. These tiny insects have the potential to inflict substantial damage by puncturing plant cells and feeding on the sap, ultimately stunting growth and causing deformities in leaves and flowers.
Whitefly can be highly problematic in cannabis, with two notable species of concern being the Tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) and Greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum). These small, winged insects feed on cannabis plants by piercing the phloem and extracting sap, leading to yellowing, wilting, and reduced plant vigour. Whitefly infestations can cause significant damage, hinder plant growth, and ultimately impact yields. Furthermore, whiteflies are known to secrete honeydew, promoting the growth of sooty mold that further interferes with photosynthesis.
Lygus spp. pierce through plant tissues and feeds on the sap, causing distorted growth and blemished leaves in cannabis crops. Furthermore, its feeding behavior can lead to the development of necrotic spots and reduced flower quality.
Tetranychus urticae, also known as the Two-spotted spider mite, inflicts considerable harm to cannabis crops by piercing plant cells and extracting essential fluids, resulting in stippled leaves, webbing, and a general decline in plant health. These mites are notorious for their rapid reproductive rates, enabling them to swiftly multiply and overrun cannabis crops. Similarly, Panonychus ulmi, the Fruit tree red spider mite, and Bryobia rubrioculus, the Brown (apple) mite, pose a significant threat by voraciously devouring cannabis foliage, leading to discoloration and reduced photosynthetic capacity. Both species can jeopardize crop yields and plant vitality if left unmanaged.
Other pest mites
Russet mites, such as the Hemp russet mite (Aculops cannabicola) are troublesome pests within the Eriophyidae family, which have a notable impact on cannabis plants. Aculops cannabicola infests cannabis crops, leading to distorted growth, necrosis, and decreased yields. The Broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) is a mite of the family Tarsonemidae and can also be a severe problem in cannabis crops.
Fungus gnats or Sciarid flies can wreak havoc on cannabis plants, particularly in indoor growing environments. Fungus gnats like Bradysia impatiens are small flies that lay their eggs in damp soil. Their larvae feed on organic matter in the soil and can damage the roots of cannabis plants, leading to stunted growth and decreased vigour. The presence of these pests can also increase the risk of fungal diseases. Sciaridae species share similar habits and can contribute to the overall stress and reduced health of cannabis plants.
Biological pest control in cannabis
Biological pest control of thrips in cannabis can be achieved effectively through the use of various biocontrol agents. Predatory mites such as Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite, Swirski Ulti-Mite) are valuable allies in thrips management, as they feed on thrips eggs and larvae. Isaria fumosorosea (Isarid) a biological pesticide, can be applied to target thrips populations and inhibit their growth. For additional control, predatory bugs such as Orius laevigatus (Thripor-L) and Orius insidiosus (Thripor-I) can be introduced, as they feed on thrips at different stages of development.
Fungus gnat control
In the realm of cannabis cultivation, biological solutions have emerged as effective allies in combatting the challenges posed by sciarid flies. Among these innovative products, the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae (Entonem) targets fungus gnat larvae. This microscopic predator actively seeks out and infects its host, effectively reducing the pest population. Similarly, the predatory mite Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Entomite-M) preys on fungus gnat larvae, further controlling their numbers. The predatory beetle (Atheta) offers an additional layer of defense by feeding on the larvae present in the growing medium. Adding to this arsenal is Isaria fumosorosea (Isarid), a biological pesticide that utilizes Isaria fumosorosea to naturally eliminate fungus gnats.
Spider mite control
Biological pest control of spider mites in cannabis crops can be achieved effectively through the use of beneficial predatory organisms. Several biocontrol agents have shown efficacy in controlling spider mite populations. Neoseiulus californicus (Spical, Spical Ulti-Mite) and Phytoseiulus persimilis (Spidex, Spidex Boost, Spidex Vital, Spidex Vital Plus) are predatory mites that target and feed on spider mites, including species like Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). These predatory mites actively seek out spider mite colonies and consume them, helping to reduce their numbers and prevent further damage to the cannabis plants.
Biological pest control is an effective approach to managing aphid infestations in cannabis crops. Several beneficial organisms are utilized as biocontrol agents to suppress aphid populations. Parasitic wasps, including Aphidius colemani (Aphipar), Aphidius matricariae (Aphipar-M), Aphidius ervi (Ervipar) parasitise and control aphid populations by laying eggs inside aphids. Chrysoperla carnea (Chrysopa, Chrysopa-E), commonly known as the green lacewing, is another beneficial insect that feeds on aphids at various life stages. The biological pesticides Lecanicillium muscarium Ve6 (Mycotal) and Isaria fumosorosea (Isarid) infect and kill aphids, contributing to population reduction.
Biological pest control of whiteflies in cannabis crops can be achieved through the use of various biocontrol agents. Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite, Swirski Ulti-Mite) are predatory mites that feed on whitefly eggs and nymphs, providing long-term suppression. Lecanicillium muscarium Ve6 (Mycotal) and Isaria fumosorosea (Isarid), biological pesticides, can be applied to target whitefly populations and disrupt their development. The parasitic wasps Encarsia formosa and Eretmocerus eremicus (Enermix) that parasitise whitefly nymphs, and the predatory bug Macrolophus pygmaeus (Mirical) effectively control whitefly populations.
Russet mite control
Predatory mites offer a promising approach to tackle russet mites. Amblyseius swirskii (Swirski-Mite, Swirski Ulti-Mite) and Neoseiulus californicus (Spical, Spical Ulti-Mite) not only consume these harmful arachnids but also prevent their population from spiraling out of control. With their voracious appetites for pests, these predatory mites serve as natural biocontrols, maintaining a balanced ecosystem within the cannabis environment.
The use of beneficial nematodes, including Steinernema carpocapsae (Capsanem), has proven to be successful in controlling caterpillar populations. These nematodes are entomopathogenic, meaning they infect and kill the caterpillars. Once applied, the nematodes actively seek out the caterpillar larvae, penetrate their bodies, and release bacteria that quickly multiply, leading to the demise of the pests. Beneficial nematodes are highly effective in controlling caterpillar populations due to their unique biological characteristics. This method of biological control is highly targeted, as the nematodes specifically seek out caterpillar hosts, making them efficient and environmentally friendly agents in reducing caterpillar populations.
Leaf miner control
Several biocontrol agents have proven to be beneficial in suppressing leaf miner populations in cannabis crops. The parasitic wasps Diglyphus isaea (Miglyphus) and Dacnusa sibirica (Minusa), are effective natural enemies of leaf miner larvae and the predatory bug Macrolophus pygmaeus (Mirical) contributes to the management of leaf minre larvae.
Pest monitoring and scouting in cannabis crops
Scouting and monitoring are fundamental practices in integrated pest management (IPM) for cannabis growers. These proactive approaches involve regular and systematic inspection of crops to identify the presence and severity of pests and diseases. Growers use various techniques, including visual inspections, traps, and modern technologies like remote sensing and digital image analysis, to track potential threats.
Scouting typically begins before planting and continues throughout the growing season, with a focus on early detection. Early identification of pests and diseases allows for timely intervention, reducing the risk of widespread infestations or outbreaks. Monitoring involves recording data on pest and disease populations, their distribution, and environmental conditions. By identifying issues promptly, growers can minimize the impact on crop yield and quality while reducing the environmental footprint associated with chemical treatments.
Pheromone and lures (Pherodis, Lurem-TR, Attracker) in combination with traps (Deltatrap, Funnel Trap) or sticky traps (Horiver) play a crucial role in monitoring and scouting for plant pests in agriculture and horticulture. Rollertraps are used in case large numbers of whiteflies and thrips are present. These tools are designed to attract, capture, and help identify specific pests, allowing growers to assess pest populations and make informed management decisions.
Crop scouting with Natutec Scout
Using a crop scouting tool can lead to more effective, sustainable, and profitable crop production by providing precision pest monitoring and real-time pest detection alerts. Natutec Scout is a crop scouting tool for effective and efficient pest monitoring.
With Natutec Scout you can use your preferred scout method. Record scout observations by mobile phone manually or use the scanner for Horiver sticky cards for automatic detection of pests. The dashboard provides you with a complete overview of your scouting data which can be extended by uploading historical scouting observations. The real-time pest detection alerts let you stay ahead of potential crop damage.
Cannabis plant diseases
Cannabis crops can be susceptible to various fungal and bacterial pathogens. These pathogens can cause significant damage to the plants, leading to reduced yields and quality. Fungal diseases, such as Botrytis spp., Fusarium wilt, Phytophthora spp., Powdery mildew and Pythium spp., pose serious threats to cannabis cultivation. These fungal infections can spread rapidly under favourable conditions and impact the overall health of the crop. Disease management in cannabis crops requires preventive measures to mitigate the impact of these diseases and ensure a successful cannabis harvest.