The Time Is Now: Tips To Manage Pests In Vegetable Transplants

Begin the season with a clean, weed-free and disinfected greenhouse. This means clearing the growing area of any plant debris, weeds, and any discarded flats or tools. After clean-up, wash and disinfect empty benches, potting areas, storage shelves, tools, and leftover cell packs and flats that you plan to reuse.

It is important to note that chlorine bleach is an effective sanitizer, but there will be a 50% reduction in strength of a chlorine solution after just two hours. Therefore, you should prepare a new solution each time you plan to sanitize.

Once you have the growing area and equipment sanitized, be sure to avoid recontamination. Dirty hose nozzles or tools can contaminate potting soil and the general growing area. Be sure that everything brought into the sanitized area is also clean. The floor or soil in the growing area is a good source of insects and diseases. Do not stand on the benches after they have been cleaned, as you can easily move diseases up from the floor with your shoes. Use hooks to keep your hose nozzle off the floor.

Ideally, grow your transplants off the floor as well, either on benches or pallets. The floor in your greenhouse should be well drained and cleaned before plants are started there. Some growers have taken to covering the entire floor with black fiber cloth to both prevent weed growth and make clean up easier after transplant production. Once dry, plant and soil residues are easily swept-up and removed.

Does your growing area have good air movement? Circulating air not only distributes heat more evenly but can also reduce condensation in the greenhouse. Consider installing a horizontal airflow (HAF) system in your transplant production area.

I’ve heard growers ask if allowing the greenhouse to ‘freeze’ for several days in cold weather means that insect pests will be killed; and the answer is no. Heat can be more effective than freezing for pest destruction. For example, heat has been shown to be more effective for the control of thrips, according to Leanne Pundt of the University of Connecticut.

In one study, high temperature (104ºF) combined with very low humidity (less than 10%) for three to four days killed most adult thrips. However, your greenhouse must be completely weed-free for this method to work. If you have constant thrips problems, this control method might be something to try this summer.

Finally, always use disease-free media for transplant production. If using soil, be sure it is pasteurized before you bring it into the growing area. Successful soil pasteurization requires 30 minutes at 180ºF. Be sure to frequently sanitize and maintain clean areas where soil is mixed and pots are filled.

If you are producing both vegetable transplants and ornamentals, I strongly recommend that you have separate growing areas for each group of plants. Bringing cuttings of flowering plants into the vegetable area can introduce pests, such as thrips, and diseases, such as tobacco spotted wilt virus (TSWV). Look at your available space(s) and plan accordingly.

Take some time to prepare your vegetable transplant greenhouse now to reduce disease and insect problems later this season. Waiting until seeding time to start this chore may not leave enough time to do the job thoroughly. This could result in a great deal of time and money spent later to control a disease or insect infestation that could have been prevented.

This article appeared in the January 2014 Vegetable and Small Fruit Gazette, the Penn State Extension newsletter for vegetable and small fruit growers.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Crop Protection Stories
Common smut of corn
Disease Control
July 19, 2016
Open Your Eyes To Common Smut In Sweet Corn
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this formidable fungus. Read More
Downy-Mildew-Cukes-by-Clemson
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirmed In Michigan Cucumbers
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Newer strains of potato virus Y spread by aphids cause damage to the flesh of the tubers. Photo courtesy Washington State University
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Potato Growers: Be On The Lookout For New Strains Of Potato Virus Y
Standard measures have been typically less effective against new strains. Read More
fanned out 100 dollar bills
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Dickeya early symptoms for web
Crop Protection
July 13, 2016
Dickeya: A New Potato Disease
The disease caused big losses last year; growers need to check fields for symptoms. Read More
Whiteflies on a leaf
Fruits
July 11, 2016
Exotic Whitefly On The Move In Florida
Reports confirm notorious Q-biotype species is now present in eight counties. Read More
(Photo credit: Nancy Bosold, Horticulture Educator, Penn State Extension)
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In Pennsylvania
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
The Latest
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Study: GMO Ban Would Hurt Economy And En…
Food prices and greenhouse gas emissions would rise, according to paper by Purdue University agricultural economist. Read More
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Organic Insect Control Product Available…
The mycoinsecticide is EPA registered and controls a variety of insect pests. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirme…
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Potato Growers: Be On The Lookout For Ne…
Standard measures have been typically less effective against new strains. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Crop Protection
July 13, 2016
Dickeya: A New Potato Disease
The disease caused big losses last year; growers need to check fields for symptoms. Read More
Crop Protection
July 8, 2016
Public Policy Decisions And The Influenc…
EPA needs to get back to using solid science and avoid bending to popular opinion. Read More
Crop Protection
July 6, 2016
Abiotic Issues Affect Vegetable Producti…
Although most issues you face are biotic, abiotic issues can greatly impact vegetable crop yield and quality. Read More
Crop Protection
July 6, 2016
Crop Production High Tunnel iBook Now Av…
The book is designed to help growers who are beginning high tunnel production. Read More
Crop Protection
June 23, 2016
Scientists Selected To Work On Healthy H…
The four-year, $1 million program has a goal of improving the health of honeybee colonies. Read More
Crop Protection
June 15, 2016
Robotic Weeder Makes Its Debut
Developed in France, the autonomous, electric-powered, lightweight machine doesn’t compact soil and operates for up to eight hours. Read More
Citrus
June 14, 2016
Monsanto Rejects Second Bid From Bayer
Wall Street Journal reports Monsanto seeks bid increase from Bayer. Read More
Crop Protection
June 6, 2016
Bayer Teams Up With Aerospace Company To…
Collaboration with Planetary Resources is designed to arm growers with information to save water, etc. Read More
Crop Protection
June 6, 2016
Tessenderlo Kerley Opens Research And In…
Farm will allow company’s Crop Vitality division to try out materials under real world conditions. Read More
Crop Protection
June 5, 2016
How To Manage Consperse Stink Bug In Tom…
Tips to control the pest include pheromone traps, sanitation, and site selection. Read More
Crop Protection
June 3, 2016
Stockton Group Puts Stock In Crop Protec…
Industry veteran hired to help bolster global biopesticide business. Read More
Citrus
June 1, 2016
Groups Make Push To Challenge DuPont, Do…
Letter from industry organizations say proposed merger could hinder innovation, raise prices, and reduce choices. Read More
Crop Protection
June 1, 2016
5 Major GMO Myths Debunked
Disproving the myths associated with the technology and highlighting lesser-known truths may help improve public reception. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]