In this article we will focus on how to prevent pests in our crop. And how important it is to dedicate some minutes to strengthen the immune system in our plants.
Pests are one of the worst fears of any grower. In a matter of a few days, a pest of several hundreds of individuals can become a pest of millions, dancing around and fiercely devouring the crop. We are going to discuss what products can be used and explain a couple of tricks to prevent all that from happening. Surely you heard the old say “prevention is better than cure” more than once when you were a kid. Well, it could not be more appropriate in this case.
It’s a natural product (totally biodegradable) and has been used as an insecticide in agriculture for a long time. It poses no risk for human beings and it is also environment-friendly, ideal for ecological cultivation lovers. Its main feature is that it weakens the protection shield of insects, favouring penetration inside the pest and preventing any defensive system from forming. It is also known as a penetrating agent for this reason.
It is recommended to use it when the light bulbs are turned off or after dusk, or when the sunlight’s intensity is not too high. A good advice is to use the dose indicated on the label, since it can vary depending on the brand.
The potassium soap is also used to obtain a better absorption of humidity (wetting agent). If we find clumps in the plants’ substrate at some point during the cultivation process, one solution is to add some potassium soap to the irrigation water enhancing the absorption of nutrients and the proprieties of the substrate.
It is one of the world’s best-known pest deterrents in all kinds of agriculture. It comes from India and Myanmar, it is called Neem’s tree and its scientific name is Azadirachta Indica. To obtain Neem’s oil the seeds need to be processed using a pressing device.
It has lots of beneficial properties for plants, such as:
- Inhibits the formation of chitin, which is what insects are covered by
- Destroys the development of eggs, chrysalis or larvae
- Sterilizes adult insects
- Blocks metamorphosis process
- Prevents their right feeding
During springtime, periodical applications are recommended, since during this time pest attacks are very common due to environmental conditions.
You can add it while watering the plants in a smaller dose than the one used via foliar. This way it will work systemically by being absorbed by the roots. Once a month is enough treatment.
If we do it via foliar it’s better to use a bit of potassium soap, helping the Neem oil stick to the leaves. We will spray both sides of the leaf: this is very important because most pests appear under the leaves. If we do it every 15 days, we will be ready for different pests.
Neem oil will allow us to protect our crop from whiteflies, red spider, thrips… it is every grower’s ally.
Keep the light off when spraying or you will risk burning the leaves.
It is a plant from the Equisetaceae family, it features great fungicide properties and with it you can prepare a 100% natural solution that will be of great help in fighting fungi.
It should be used in 1:10 proportion, mixing the concentrate with water. To use it on the plants we will wait until the lights are about to go out. We can also pause the ventilation. That way we prevent a fast evaporation and the product will attach better to the plant.
To ward fungi off it is also necessary to keep a thorough control of the environment humidity levels. We should keep the parameters between 45% and 60% of relative humidity.
I normally use it until the third week after changing the photoperiod. Once the flowers start to develop I stop using any kind of spray unless the plants are Sativa plants of long flowering.
Bees produce this substance naturally. They use it to keep the hive totally sealed, sterilised and free from virus, fungi and bacteria.
The same as with the other products the advice is to use it every 15 to 20 days, and you can use this one and the others alternatively.
Not only will propolis provide some external defence to the plant, but it will also enhance the natural defence system creating a reinforced immune system, it will help the tissue regeneration and will supply some extra vitamins as well (B, C, and E).
Propolix is one of the most popular products in the market. It contains approximately 15% propolis, and you only need to add 2ml/l for a correct use.
The components we have mentioned are the most often used ones, but there are lots of different components good for our crops like Trichoderma, chrysanthemum extracts, cinnamon extracts, micronized sulphur…
Let’s not forget the biological combat method. It is based on the using of natural predators of every pest, Orius Laevigatus (Thrips), Encarsia Formosa (Whitefly), Phytoseiulus Permisilis and Amblyseius Californicus (Red Spider)…
What else should we keep in mind to prevent pests?
Depending on the environmental conditions of the area in which we cultivate, it is necessary to choose one or another variety. If we live in an area of excessive relative humidity, we will seek for genetics that resist humidity and fungi. If our crops show a tendency to suffer pests we can choose varieties that will adapt better to those circumstances. The shorter the flowering time, the shorter the time pests will have to ingrain in the crop.
humidity and temperature
It is necessary to maintain certain parameters of humidity and temperature. If we don’t do so we are paving the way for different types of pests and fungi. To keep the parameters of humidity we can use a humidifier, and a dehumidifier to obtain the opposite result. Rooms’ temperature can be raised using heaters, and air conditioning can reduce it. Also, cooltubes can be used. They reduce the temperature several degrees. Another good idea is to change the lighting system to LED or LEC, that produce much less heat than the old sodium-based ones.
In all cultivation is imperative to keep the right ventilation. It needs the right intractor that can introduce fresh air in the crop, an extractor that will send the foul air out and a fan in the room that can make the air circulate and enhance the plants’ stems, invigorating them.
The most essential part of prevention is the hygiene in our growing room. It will help avoid the pests that would indeed attack if we didn’t take care of this aspect.
It is important to get rid of any decaying vegetal residue from the pots or the grow box.
We must clean the trays and the floor often enough to keep them in good state.
Every time we use tools like pruning shears or scalpel we should cover them afterwards in alcohol to leave them well disinfected for the next time we need to use them.
I hope that this little piece will help you learn something, even if it is only one thing, and I hope you can take profit of that in your cultivation, because summer is just around the corner and the pest attacks are more common then.
I have chosen totally natural and ecological products for this article. They are effective and do not harm the environment. Once the pest is already settled in, it will be impossible to eradicate them using these products, you will only be able to control the pest. To eliminate it completely you will have to resort to systemic chemical insecticides. I try to use the least amount of chemicals possible for my crops, although sometimes there is no other option.
Goodbye again, I wish you all the best of smokes and don’t ever stop cultivating your ideas.