Integrated pest management a focus at 2017 Greenhouse Growers Expo

Education sessions at the 2017 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo offer updates and emerging techniques for producing greenhouse crops that satisfy consumer interest.

Catering to consumer interests can be profitable, but may require a different approach to production. Photo by Jeremy Jubenville.

Catering to consumer interests can be profitable, but may require a different approach to production. Photo by Jeremy Jubenville.

Over the last decade or so, there has been a steady surge of public interest in how and where our agricultural commodities are produced. We only need to consider a few contemporary buzz words for this to be apparent: sustainable, pollinator-friendly, organic, pasture-raised, locally-sourced, pesticide-free, etc. While there are at least a couple different paradigms in play here, we see a general desire for thoughtful production with fewer chemical inputs and lower environmental impact.

Fortunately, this philosophy aligns very well with the grower because fewer inputs can result in greater profits. Furthermore, these changes in consumer interest have also created new market opportunities across the agricultural industry. As we’ve seen with products like succulents and instant patio gardens, catering to niche markets and capitalizing on the opportunity can be a profitable business strategy.

When it comes to producing high-quality bedding plants, insect pests and diseases can be a difficult challenge to overcome. This is especially true as growers try to satisfy consumer interest in products such as edible ornamentals, potted herbs and pollinator-friendly plants.

With this in mind, the Michigan State University Extension floriculture team worked with the Western Michigan Greenhouse Association and the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association to develop an educational program that includes a series of four greenhouse integrated pest management sessions on Dec. 6 at the 2017 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Get the Latest on Greenhouse Disease Control (9–9:50 a.m.). Mary Hausbeck from the MSU Ornamental and Vegetable Plant Pathology Lab will show us how to recognize some of the common diseases of greenhouse plants and provide recommendations on how to manage them. 

Insect Management Update for Greenhouse Growers: Biological Control, Life without Neonics or Conventional Pest Control (10–10:50 a.m.). Looking to integrate biological control into your pest management program? Dave Smitley from the MSU Department of Entomology will explain the crucial steps for success. He follows with a discussion on conventional pest control and provides recommendations based on annual efficacy trials. The session wraps up with a talk about which products are effective alternatives to neonicotinoids.

How to Start Clean Crops for Successful Biological Control (2–2:50 p.m.). Current research by Rose Buitenhuis at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, Canada, has demonstrated two key indicators of success in biocontrol programs are the absence of insecticide residues on benches and starter plants, and the degree to which you start a pest-free crop. Smitley from MSU will provide recommendations on which products to use on cuttings and plugs to start your crop as clean as possible. Don’t miss learning about these useful techniques!

Herb Production and Pest Management in Greenhouses (3–3:50 p.m.). Kellie Walters from the MSU Department of Horticulture will discuss the fundamentals of potted herb production and provide a summary of current research. Pest management in herb production can be a challenge because many common greenhouse insecticides are not labeled for edible plants. Smitley from MSU will share a new bulletin that highlights which products can be used in herb production as well as the best products to use for specific pests.

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo, will be Dec. 5–7 at the Devos Place Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. All education session and workshops are open to all attendees. Visit the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo website for the full session schedule.

On-site registration will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 5–6 and from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dec. 7. Attendees and exhibitors can find registration, lodging and trade show information at the Great Lakes Expo website. For registration questions, call 734-239-8027 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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