The Basics Of Integrated Pest Management For Cannabis Growers
Anyone who grows cannabis knows that managing grow room pests is an ongoing cycle and that there are no quick fixes. That’s why they call It Integrated Pest Management, not integrated pest eradication. Designing an IPM program is a crucial part of maintaining a successful grow. You may have heard that dispensaries throughout Colorado, Oregon and Washington keep getting busted using banned pesticides. This far along, there is just no excuse for that. Implementing a safe and effective IPM program in your grow takes work, but it more than compensates for itself in the end.
WHY ORGANIC IPM?
Even if you are not growing organic cannabis, using organic and biological pest control techniques are always the safe way to go. Products like Avid and Eagle 20 are effective and kill everything in sight, but are systemic and stay in the plant long after harvest, despite what the label might say. Industrial pesticides like glyphosate (Round Up), which are very similar to OTC non-organic pesticides for cannabis, have been shown to cause cancers and possibly even cause genetic defects in mice. Organic pesticides are just as effective at killing marijuana plant bugs and are safe enough to be approved for use in the commercial cannabis industry. For a list of recommended pesticides, check the approved commercial list for your state.
The most common pests you will find in your grow are various types of mites, aphids and powdery mildew. Spider mites, Russet mites and Root Aphids account for the majority of common cannabis grow room pests that feast on your hard work. Damage from feeding pests will leave you with a less than satisfactory product in the end. Powdery mildew, on the other hand, is a fungus that often appears as a white power on the leaves of your plants. Just because any of these pests pop up, doesn’t mean its all over for you and your garden. Catching them quickly and implementing the right rotation of organic pesticides and fungicides will bring them under control.
A severe spider mite infestation. Spider mites thrive in warm, moist conditions.
MAINTAIN A PROPER ENVIRONMENT
You will always have some level of contamination in any grow room. Going out for a smoke break and walking back into the grow just transferred mites, pollen and who knows what else from outside into your not-so sterile environment. Avoiding this is nearly impossible, but there are things you can do to keep pests at bay. Maintaining a proper environment is crucial in any IPM program. As temperatures and humidity rise, pockets of moisture can form in the canopy which creates conditions that foster these grow room pests. Whether you are a fungi or a spider mite, hot wet conditions are a sure fire way to spread. Make sure your cooling is sufficient, and any excess moisture in the room is removed. Manual defoliation is a great way to increase air flow in your garden and reduce your chances of attracting pests.
FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS
One of the most important things you can do is follow the label instructions on your chosen pesticide. Pesticide labels, even organic ones, are legal documents. Technically if the label says spray once a week and you spray twice, you are in violation of federal law. Most organic pesticides have a spray interval of 6-8 days, which means don’t spray more than once a week. The label requirements are designed for not only your safety, but the health of the plant.
FOLLOW A SCHEDULE
Many growers make the mistake of only treating a problem when it arises. A successful organic IPM program is equally about prevention as it is about cure. If you have a pest problem, you should be spraying your room once a week. If you don’t have a pest problem, preventative applications will stop any potential pest pressure before it has a chance to rear its ugly head.