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New Pest and Disease Management tools

The dilemma is that biological pest control is far from well understood about how best to be effective.

April 15, 2015  By Melhem Sawaya

Pest management is always a major concern for growers.

May 2015 – Every sector of the greenhouse industry, whether it is flowers or vegetables, knows that we have to get away from using chemicals, for the undisputable reason that this is what the consumer demands.

Growers who can deliver a completely chemical-free product with average quality will have an edge in the market.

The dilemma is that biological pest control is far from well understood about how best to be effective. Biological pest control is used up to a point, in many cases, before the cleanup of one pest or another has to be completed with chemicals.


A friendly and effective tool in pest control is the use of microbials, which are being used more and more because they can be used most of the time. If the pests get out of hand, a chemical pesticide can be used without derailing the whole biological program.

Microbials are the focus of our Greenhouse Canada Grower Day on June 22 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites St. Catharines Conference Centre. After numerous discussions with growers, the consensus is that microbials can play a bigger role in their pest and disease control if only they can understand them better and know how to use them effectively.

Grower Day will feature presentations by leading researchers, microbial suppliers and growers who use microbials. Also featured will be a panel discussion during which audience members can ask questions to get a clearer picture about this fairly new approach to control pests and diseases.

Questions are encouraged throughout the day. I’ve always said that the only silly question is the one that is not asked.

Dr. Anissa Poleatewich will provide a better understanding of what microbials are and how we can use them as a pesticide. This will be an introduction to the topic and will help set up the rest of the program.

Matt Krause (BioWorks) is a specialist in the science behind microbials and will outline how effective are they in the field. Krause will first explain how to make microbials work for more effectively, and in a second talk he is going to share with us how BioWorks products work and how to be more successful in using them. He will also review their compatibility with other chemicals, insecticides or fungicides.

Two growers will share their experiences with microbials. Albert Grimm (Jeffery’s Greenhouses) will share his experience with flowers, and Norm Hansen (Erieview Acres) will discuss how they have worked with their vegetable crops. They will outline what worked for them and what did not work. Other growers can learn from their mistakes so they do not have to repeat them, and can build on their successes so you can be fast tracking in the use of microbials.

James Kowalski (Monsanto) will talk about their microbial products and how to use them, including their compatibility with other microbials, biologicals and chemicals. He will outline how to use the products properly and effectively.

Dr. Michael Brownridge (Vineland) will discuss how to make the most of insect pest control with microbials.

Lots of research, coupled with feedback from many growers, is helping make microbials more effective in convincing pests that flowers and vegetables are not a good home for them!

The day will conclude with a panel discussion involving the speakers. Have your questions ready because this is a great opportunity to access all this experience and expertise. You’ll have the answers you need to proceed more confidently with microbials.

Microbials should be part of your crop protection program. This program will be of interest to both greenhouse vegetable and ornamental growers. It is never too late to learn new things, and applying these new things will help make our businesses more successful.

Melhem Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management is a consultant and research coordinator to the horticultural industry.

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