Farming with Experience – Integrated Pest Management
There are many ways you can learn the ins and outs of farming these days; university, youtube, books, the internet, from friends, etc. Experience is what separates the good farmers from great farmers. Simply put all the resources in the world will not give you the experience of multiple seasons of getting your hands in the dirt. If you think about it a farmer typically has less than 100 seasons in a lifetime. That’s not a lot of chances to get things right! Flat River Infusions is a standout because it combines over 20 years of farming experience with proven scientific methods. Founder and operator Nick Sagan earned his degree in Horticulture Science from North Carolina State University and has applied that knowledge along with years of real world farming experiences to produce the finest hemp in the United States.
Nick Sagan B.Sc. Horticulture Science from NCSU
In this series titled “Farming with Experience”, Nick is going to share some of his proven farming know how. We hope you subscribe to our newsletter and enjoy increasing your understanding of organic agronomic practices.
IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
Hemp unlike other crops has no formally listed pesticides, fungicides or herbicides that can be used on the crop. Most conventional farmers squirm when they hear this because the agricultural industry in America has been crutched up my the use of approved substances on plants. Organic farmers and naturalists rejoice in knowing that finally, maybe America is starting to change its views on pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Unfortunately, it looks like there will come a day once research is conducted that certain substances may be approved. However, until that day, all hemp in America (unless someone is breaking the rules) is being grown using organic practices. Meaning the pesticides, fungicides and herbicides being used are all natural or OMRI certified. More than likely they are made using a mix of all natural essential oils (aka terpenes).
Growing organic on a large scale can be especially challenging and that is partly why conventional farming uses listed pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Organic farming is most commonly done on a smaller more manageable scale.
At Flat River Infusions we do just that. We grow using organic practices and are working towards organic soil certification. Because we use organic practices and do not use pesticides or herbicides we have to be extremely proactive in the prevention of pests and weeds. We have an integrated pest management system for our greenhouse production and outdoor production. With each production model it is important to take preventative measures in order to mitigate and reduce the prevalence of pests and weeds. Mostly because they threaten the nutrient intake of your plants and nutrient deficient plants do not optimally produce phytochemicals.
Greenhouse Production 2020
-Keep the space as clean as possible. Do not leave any fallen leaves on the ground or in pots as they attract pests.
-Pick dead leaves off plants daily and before they fall if possible.
-Trim low hanging branches, keep plants from touching ground. Some greenhouses will elevate plants off the ground, this also saves your back!
-Airflow is huge. You don’t want to cause a windstorm but a nice breeze is best where the plants appear to be gently shaking or dancing.
-Use beneficials as needed. Some that we have used before are lady bugs, wasps larvae and praying mantis.
-If you have a way of controlling the temp and humidity that can also detract pests.
-Hang sticky traps above plants. This is simple and extremely effective.
-If you notice any pests at all on plants, it is good practice to separate (quarantine) them from the others. Trim any leaves that appear to have pest issues. As you can see in the photo below that is indeed russet mites, the untrained eye may mistake these mites for trichomes!
Russet Mites on a plant.
-Some growers will automatically start spraying all natural pest deterrents like neem oil as a preventative in the vegetation stage, before flowering. Its important to note a couple of things: 1. Once flowering occurs, its best to stop spraying or at least stop within 7-14 days of harvest. Avoid spraying colas if you must spray during flowering. 2. Some all natural sprays you must spray at night. 3. Wear a mask if possible. 4. Plants can build up a tolerance to natural sprays so it is best to alternate between sprays weekly.
-Plant cover crops the season before to mitigate weeds and add nutrients back to the soil.
-Plant trap crops around the perimeter of your crop. Crops that attract corn ear worms are advisable. This will also help keep animals from tramping through your beloved crop.
-Lay plastic if you know you have a weed problem. This can also mitigate pests because it creates a layer between the ground and your plants. Cardboard could be another option if plastic is out of your budget. It also helps keep moisture in reducing the amount of water the plants require.
-We can’t say enough about prepping your land in the off season. This will boost your soils nutrients while cutting down on pests. weeds and fungi.
-If you have the man power, trimming low hanging branches and picking dead or infected leaves off plants are beneficial.
-Fungal spores that cause root rot and spotted leaves need to be dealt with in a timely manner. If you notice a root issue caused by fungus, it may be best to take extra measures to insure that fungus is not transmitted to other plants. Tools used to dig up infected plants and any farm equipment used on infected soil should be cleaned with a disinfectant such as peroxide.
-Nutrient deficiency, lack of water or transplant shock can all attract pests so make sure your plants levels are topped up.
-Planning out plant and row spacing is important. You want to maximize the amount of air that can travel throughout your crop while planning for any implements you may use to get through.
-All natural sprays can be used but same principals apply to outdoors as indoors.
-Depending on rain in your area, mildew may occur. There are all natural, organic ways to treat mildew by making your own concoctions of apple cider vinegar, milk or baking soda or using solutions of potassium bicarbonate which are used on grapes. You can also mitigate the occurrence of mold or mildew at harvest by picking a dry harvest day. A day that has been proceeded by many other dry days is especially advantageous.
*It is important to know that even the most experienced farmers will have pest, fungi and weed pressure so don’t be discouraged! Having a system in place when you do experience these problems will speed up decision making. Preventative approaches are a cornerstone in organic farming.