Pest and Mildew Management for Cannabis Cultivation Sites
Marijuana pest management will be among the most annoying and vexing problems associated with running an indoor marijuana cultivation business. As usual, prevention is a much better option than perpetual treatment of an existing infestation, but just about every garden eventually gets infected, and this usually happens from workers coming from other infected gardens, or infected clones being carelessly brought in. Some problems, such as powdery mildew or aphids, can come from air intake and cracks in the building.
Several steps can be taken to minimize the risk of pests being brought into the site, including positive-pressure entry ways with locker rooms between the entrance and the plant cultivation area, where all workers must shower and change clothes before entering the grow room. Medium and large-scale operations should build their sites with this taken into account.
If marijuana clones must be brought into the site, they should have a special quarantine room with great lighting, where the clones sit for 2 weeks before getting integrated into the main plant area. 10-40x magnifiers should be used on a daily basis to examine the clones and the surface of the medium to look for small moving objects. If possible, start from seed to avoid this problem.
Workers should be incentivized to look for bugs by giving them “bug find” bonuses. The sooner an infestation is found, the easier it is to contain. Certain bugs are common and easy to handle, such as fungus gnats or caterpillars, whereas others will change everything about daily operations and company profit for some period of time, until they are controlled or eliminated. These include mites of all kinds, some types of aphids, and also powdery mildew, which is not an insect, but it does fall under the “pest” category as a living infection that commonly afflicts marijuana plants.
Each type of infestation or infection has its own treatment regimen that must be swiftly and comprehensively applied in order to work properly. Sprayers that apply biological or chemical controls should use small micron-sized water particles that essentially humidify the room with the treatment substance, such that complete coverage happens without question. Beyond that, biological controls are always best for consumable products, and sometimes they work better as well. This is true, for example, in the case of Spinosad for thrips, or BTi and BTk for gnats and caterpillars.
Spider mites, broad mites, and russet mites are the biggest challenges for indoor growers. Once you have these bugs, it’s easy to get stuck in a mode of constant treatment and application of toxic, and sometimes illegal, chemicals. No one has yet found or invented an easy solution to deal with marijuana mite infestations. Hopefully a non-toxic biological solution will present itself in the near future, but for now, the options include heat treatments, horticultural oils, essential oils, diatomaceous earth, micronized sulphur, and some RTU sprays such as Green Clean, Mighty Wash, Nuke ‘Em, Azadirachtin, Pyrethrins, as well as various combinations of all of them.
No satisfying pest treatments exist for flowering plants past the 2nd week of the 12/12 light cycle. At this point in the plant’s development, even Safer’s Soap can harm the fragile white hairs that begin to emerge from the plant nodes, and other sprays that might not cause the white hairs to suffer might have a residual effect on the finished product, either in terms of taste or unhealthy residues.
Financially desperate growers are notorious for using toxic chemicals such as Avid (abamectin) and Floramite to save their crops from complete failure. This is because mite infestations can emerge and dominate a grow room very quickly, and growers just can’t come to terms with taking a complete loss on the crop, so they do whatever they can to salvage it. For clones and mother plants, chemicals like these aren’t such a problem for the end consumer since they degrade in a few weeks. The problem with chemical application in these cases is with worker exposure.
In the case of powdery mildew, preventatives such as Actinovate, Green Cure, and sulphur burners work well on vegetative plants, and Serenade works well on both vegetative and flowering plants (but smells horrid). In terms of additives, silica at 50ppm helps, and so does the addition of viable soil microorganisms, such as those made by Dragonfly Earth Medicine and Earthfort.
* Marijuana Business Documentation - Business Plans, SOPs, Tracking Systems, R&D
* Marijuana Site Design - Floor plans, Room Subdivisions, Ease of Access and Use
* Marijuana Security - Internal and External Controls to Minimize Theft
* Marijuana HVAC - Air Quality, Monitoring, Clearance, Temperate and Humidity Control, Co2, Ozone, Fumigation, Fire Safety
* Marijuana Electricity and Energy Management - Power Usage & Energy Efficiency
* Marijuana Water Usage and Management- Input and Waste Management & Analysis
* Best Marijuana Grow Equipment - Ensuring the Purchase of Energy-Saving High Performance Equipment & Supplies
* Marijuana Staffing Plans - Workflow Simplification & Error Minimization
* Marijuana Worker Safety, Satisfaction & Professional Development
* Marijuana Plant Material Disposal Plans, Hazardous Waste Management
* Marijuana Site Sanitation Plans
* Marijuana Nutrient Regimens - Standard Protocols, Lab Testing, Modification & Results Tracking
* Marijuana Grow Methods - Flowering, Cloning, Mother Plants, Veg Growth, Seed Production
* Marijuana Harvesting, Trimming, Curing, and Storage
* Marijuana Supply & Demand Production Management
* Marijuana Quality Control - Lab Testing Finished Materials and Standardizing Systems
* Marijuana Business ROI Analysis