If you have been part of the cannabis world for a while you may have heard the acronym IPMP. This stands for integrated pest management program. Mostly this is just a fancy term for taking getting a little more serious about preventing and treating pests before they get out of hand and impact the outcome of your grow.
The bad news is cannabis is vulnerable to many a garden pest. The good news? An IPM program can do a lot to minimize potential problems.
So what is an integrated pest management program (IPMP)? An IPMP is a strategy that focuses on long term prevention and control of cannabis pests and their damage. A typical program has six basic steps:
1. Prevention - This step is essential to successfully manage pests in your grow because it will reduce the likelihood of more extreme control measures down the road. A few examples of prevention strategies are:
- Keeping clean mother plants
- Good sanitization practices
- Using pest free grow media (or sterilizing/quarantining it before use)
- Maintain a buffer zone of weeds and vegetation around your grow space building
- Choose plant strains that are resistant to pests
- Install good ventilation
- Restrict movement of workers
- Maintain strategic flow through grow space visiting the rooms with the highest amount of pest pressure last
- Inspect all incoming cannabis plant materials
2. Identification - correctly identifying a pest is fundamental in developing a treatment plan that will be effective.
3. Monitoring - This step includes surveying your crop for pest bugs on a regulars basis. You may also want to monitor beneficial populations as well as the climate conditions of your room. All of these factors will effect pest populations levels. Tools that can be used for monitoring include: sticky traps, magnifying glass, and microscope.
4. Action Thresholds - are levels set by the grower that determining how much damage is acceptable, and when it is time to implement pest control. This will vary with each pest and the type of control method used. For example, there might be a low tolerance level for spider mites because of their fast reproduction rates and their high probability to damage. However, there may be a lower tolerance for fungus gnats as they have slower reproduction rates and not all life stages cause plant damage.
5. Management - Pest management options for cannabis often include a combination of, cultural, physical, biological and chemical controls.
6. Evaluation - Schedule follow-up monitoring or inspections to find out how successful the controls have been. Keep a record what controls were administered and how they worked or didn't work. Make a note of when in the plants life cycle pests were showing up and if new physical controls that were place worked. Use what you found to plan for future pest control.
How should I integrate pest management? Integrating pest management into everyday work routines is a smart and efficient way to keep on top of pest management in any facility. Here are a few tips:
1. Quarantine new plants coming into your grow. Just like we do as people these days, any new plant material that is coming into your space should be quarantined. Even if the plants look clean upon inspection there are lots of places where tiny pest eggs could be hiding. This quarantine procedure can also apply to any planting medias coming into your space.
2. Inspect the root systems for pest bugs when transplanting.
3. Schedule deleafs on bug delivery day. That way the beneficials can be put out when the deleafing is done. This has multiple benefits, the plants are already being handled, pest populations are lower as many are tossed with the removed leaves, and the beneficials have less leaf surface area to hunt for any remaining prey.
4. Check plants for bugs whenever they are being handled.
5. If sachets are being used hang them when another task such as deleafing, netting, or staking is already being performed.
6. When dealing with severe infestations, using a biopesticide to perform a 'knock down' before putting out beneficials. Some biopesticides and their residues will also kill or negatively affect the performance of the beneficials. Be sure to check your biopesticide for re-entry intervals (them amount of time you need to wait before going back in the room).
7. For roots pests using beauveria bassiana in your watering regiment can help weaken pests, making it easier for beneficials to hunt and kill them.
8. Create a workplace flow - entering pest free rooms/areas first and saving any infested rooms/areas for last.
9. Require any visitors/workers that come to your grow to have clean clothing.
10. Consider having a boot wash. This can be as simple as a dish pan at doorways with a half inch of disinfectant.
Preventing pest bugs before they become a problem is the single best way to handle your pest management. Once pests reach infestation levels they are much harder to get rid of and at infestation levels they have already damaged your crop and effected your final yields.
Biobloomed offers free consultation for everyone from recreation growers to larger facilities on pest management. Contact us for more details.