Biocontrols get top billing at New Morning Farm
HERSHEY, Pa. — Jennifer Glenister, operator of New Morning Farm, shared strategies for biocontrols at her session at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention during the last week of January.
The farm grows 32 acres of Certified Organic produce in Huntingdon County, Pa.
For 11 years Glenister has been with this farm, which sells about 60 different fruits and vegetables through farm markets in the Washington D.C., area and the Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative.
When using biocontrols, Glenister advised studying the history of the intended crops, correctly identify the plant species and the controls, and obtaining help in evaluating the latest data.
She stressed starting early, understanding the need for biocontrols, and keeping in mind that prevention is the best practice.
Regarding techniques, Glenister counseled growers to time their particular crops to avoid specific pests.
She listed numerous cultural practices that repel or control pests. Locating a specific plant close to another type can influence its susceptibility. Crop rotation offsets many problems. Using products such as row covers and traps exclude diseases and insects, and employing plastics can be beneficial as well. Extremely close plant spacing encourages pests. Weeds are especially hazardous in harboring pests. The irrigation method can be chosen to deter pest populations.
Regardless of the methods employed, scouting and observing is critical. Also, Glenister reiterated, “Timing is everything.”
The life cycles of both the crop and the pest must be considered. Both target specific stages of development. Good recordkeeping can prove to be a boon for future years planning.
Since New Morning Farm offers green beans from the second week in June until the first of November, Glenister illustrated how their 21 plantings employ controls. For instance, the Mexican bean beetle adults appear in mid- to late July. Using prior years’ experience, coupled with current field monitoring, controls are developed accordingly.
Glenister pointed out that European corn borers are arriving earlier each year. Obviously changes such as that situation underscore the importance of scouting. She said that Bt sprays may be necessary for sweet corn.
Transplant production demands checking for fungus gnats and aphids. Techniques to control mites in the potting soil may be needed.
Glenister reported that powdery mildew has been a problem with field grown cucumbers recently. Consequently, New Morning Farm has begun growing cucumbers in their high tunnels; but now aphids, thrips and spider mites demand management. Both the soils and the plants require treatment.
She described several cultural practices and techniques for high tunnel controls intended to exclude pests by screening. Predators for biocontrol can handle thrips, mites and aphids. Banker plants can rear natural enemies of the undesired pests.. She cautioned, however, spraying because the balance necessary to achieve controls can be compromised.
For more information, visit, newmorningfarm.net.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925