Cannabis Biocontrol

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  • All incoming plant material should be dipped in a solution of horticultural or botanical oil followed by a spray application 3 days later
  • If incoming material is rooted, submerge rooted area in approved mycoinsecticide for controlling aphids according to label rate
  • Reject or quarantine any incoming material with active infestations of pests or diseases
  • Higher humidity in propagation can cause higher levels of fungus gnat pressure, release of BCAs ASAP is critical to prevent establishment
  • Smaller areas and plants = Lower release rates and helps establish predators in the plants from the start

Vegetative Stage

  • Bridging of canopies begins in this stage, making releases easier as BCAs can travel plant to plant
  • Slow release sachets of predatory mites are suggested at this point as plants should be sturdy enough to support them
  • Release rates increase as plants grow larger and foliage begins producing heavy leaf hairs and trichomes
  • During this stage it is still optional to use approved and compatible pesticides
  • “Over the top” applications of bulk predators still an option

Flowering Stage

  • Most critical stage for controlling pest pressure as spray options become more limited due to persistence of pesticides in final product, denser canopies = less spray coverage, and humidity spikes can lead to mold or mildew (especially indoors)
  • “Over the top” applications not suggested at this stage due to potential for vermiculite or bran carrier sticking to flower, utilize Universal Release Boxes (URBs) to release predators from within the canopy, avoiding any contact with developing flowers
  • Larger plants, more leaf hairs, heavy trichome production, zero tolerance for pest damage at critical stage = highest release rates

Hemp Russet Mite (Aculops cannibacola) and Broad Mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus)

  • Due to microscopic size, early detection is critical for HRM and Broad Mite
  • “Vagrant” feeding on plant tissue causes varying symptoms often misdiagnosed as nutrient deficiencies
  • Current management strategies same for both species of mite
  • Broad mite eggs have distinct dimpled “jeweled” appearance (target when scouting)
  • BCAs include: N. fallacis, N. californicus, A. andersoni, A.cucumeris

Two Spot Spider Mite (Tetranychus urticae)

  • Produces complex system of webbing to move from plant to plant, lay eggs, and protect from predators or pesticides (must be removed prior to treatment)
  • Life cycle from egg to adult shortens in higher temperatures, causing population explosion in outdoor/greenhouse crops in summer
  • BCAs include: P.persimilis, N. fallacis, N. californicus, F. acarisuga, C. rufilabris*

Aphids (Foliar and Root Feeding spp.)

  • Despite common misinformation on the net or cannabis publications, there are no BCAs for root-feeding aphids. Approved mycoinsecticides labelled for aphids applied to root zone best curative approach.
  • Foliar aphids can be controlled using parasitic wasps, predatory lacewing larvae and predatory midge larvae
  • BCAs include: A. colemani, A. ervi, C. rufilabris, A. aphidimyza 

Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis)

  • Overlooked pest in many cannabis grows as it is not as destructive to cannabis as many other crops, but still has the potential to spread incurable plant viruses causing significant crop losses
  • Completes pupal life stages below soil/media = mix of BCAs needed to break life cycle.
  • BCAs include: O. insidiosus, A. cucumeris, S. scimitus, D. coriaria, S. feltiae, C. rufilabris*

Cannabis Release Rates Per Plant For Listed BCAs

OrganismSmall Plants (6"-30") PREVENTIONSmall Plants (6"-30") CURATIVELarge Plants (30"-6') PREVENTIONLarge Plants (30"-6') CURATIVE
Andersoni 15 200 60 1,500
Cucumeris 125 1,700 500 6,700
Swirskii 60 800 240 3,200
Rufilabris 7 93 28 373
Californicus 25 333 100 2,500
Fallacis 25 333 100 2,500
Insidiosus 5 67 20 268
Persimilis 25 333 100 2,500

Due to the varied growing styles and growing spaces of cannabis, release rates can likewise vary based on many factors (stage of growth of plants, level of infestation, time until harvest and many more). Additionally, factors such as high/low temperature and humidity may affect which BCA is suggested for a specific situation. Consult an IPM specialist for release rates and suggestions on which BCAs will best suit your needs!
*= Suppression/enhancement to existing program for pest mentioned but not a standalone control agent