Sunday, February 27, 2022

Florida Organic Hemp Cultivation and Fungi Based Integrated Pest Management

 Blue oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus sp., are an important part of our Integrated Pest Management program here across Arendell Hill nursery.

Oyster mushrooms are an integral part of Organic Hemp IPM program here at Arendell Hill

Oyster mushrooms help clean stormwater and detoxify any contaminants that find their way via wind, rain or drift into the garden. 

Interestingly, many fungi are capable of absorbing complex carbon chains found in the environment and converting them into carbohydrates for their own growth.  

Mycoremediation, as the mushroom's decon process is commonly referred to, has been shown to be an effective way to support hemp cultivation area cleanliness while helping to ensure pure surface water. 

Additionally, mycobooms, which are a mixture of hay and fungal spores can be used to contain and cleanup most types of contamination spills and can be an effective pollution control management tool.

Because our cultivation areas are organically managed and free of pesticides and herbicides, the oysters in our garden are usually free of contamination and may also end up in our kitchen for dinnertime sauteing.

For decades, fungi have been successfully used in many organic-focused integrated pest management programs.  Additionally, mushrooms are fun to grow.  Cultivating oyster mushrooms as a companion species to hemp is just one, but an important part, of Arendell Hill's organic hemp integrated pest management program.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Millipedes, A Beneficial Integrated Pest Management Partner for Florida Hemp Cultivation

 Millipedes are an important #IPM partner for our #hemp cultivation plot. 

These scavengers prefer to eat moist leaves and plant litter.  

They do a marvelous cleanup job here at Arendell Hill, mulching up leaf litter and then fertilizing the soils with plenty of organic droppings.  

Millipedes help control fungal and algal explosions by keeping damp leaf debris accumulation to a minimum amount. These small arthropods are constantly foraging here.  I see them occasionally during the day but at night they are visible (with a UV light) almost everywhere across the ground.

Millipedes have 2 legs per segment side while centipedes have one.

Consider your cultivation area lucky if you are fortunate enough to have a substantial population of these beneficial arthropods.

#millipedes #IPM #beneficialinsects #organic #floridahemp

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Sow Thistle & Hemp Cultivation

 Pest plant (weed) alert! 

Sow Thistle, Sonchus sp., an invasive weed in the hemp cultivation area

Sow thistle, Sonchus sp., is native to Eurasia and Africa but can be found across Florida in yards, farms and in the woods. 

Each plant can produce up to 10,000 seeds and each seed can last many years, laying dormant until the right conditions come along. The young leaves can also be cooked as potherb greens. 

The problem with sow thistle is that the plant is so prolific and hardy with it's fat tap root that sow thistle takes away habitat from native flora (botanical adverse possession) and can crowd out hemp plants in the cultivation area.

I just mow or weed eat sow thistle down before flowers form, preventing the plants from reproducing, keeping them out of the garden. 

Often mistaken for dandelion, sow thistle is in the aster family. Both have basal rosettes yet the leaves are considerably different. Aphids are often attracted to sow thistle. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Surinam Cockroach and Organic Hemp Cultivation

 These photos are of the Surinam burrowing cockroach, Pycnoscelus surinamensis, also known as the greenhouse cockroach, an exotic pest insect originally found in south to southeast Asia.

Surinam Cockroach, a potential key pest for hemp plants

Though preferring tropical or subtropical climates, the Surinam cockroach is now recognized to thrive in temperate zones also.

Surinam cockroach is often considered an economic risk pest especially in greenhouse settings. This roach is susceptible to solar desiccation and usually ventures out at night, where in the greenhouse it has been documented to eat tender buds and plant tips.

Surinam cockroach is one of the few insects that can commonly reproduce through female cloning without male sperm. This process is referred to as parthenogenesis. Studies have shown that multiple generations of the Surinam cockroach exist in the same location without the presence of even one male.
Surinam Cockroach in the hemp garden

Because the Surinam cockroach can damage tender buds and plant tips, any roach favorable habitat such as piles of wood, trash or stacks of nursery pots should be cleaned and either disposed of or organized appropriately.

I try and encourage bird presence in areas where I've identified this pest insect as birds will prey on this insect.

Understanding the preferred habitat and taking steps to integrate predatory management approaches in the hemp cultivation plan can lead to a successful Surinam cockroach control program.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Organic Florida Hemp Cultivation, Identifying Crop Pests with UV Light

Evolution has equipped many insects with a sublime ability to camouflage themselves. 
Pest Insects may remain hidden under most light wavelengths as shown here on a greenhouse lemon balm plant.

Insects may stay hidden under daylight wavelengths too.
Evolution has equipped many insects with effective camouflage appearances

Interestingly and importantly for the grower, ultraviolet lights used at night that produce illumination in the wave range between 300nm and 400 nm can often illuminate otherwise camouflaged pest insects.

UVb light can assist in identifying the presence of crop pests

Pest reconnaissance of crops in cultivation areas including those in row plantings and in the greenhouses can be conducted at night often with successful results for insect identification efforts.

Insects, plant damage, and even chlorophyll containing algae and cyanobacteria can be identified at night by examining plant stems, leaves and flowers using UVa and UVb lights. Many insects react to UV light through florescence of phosphors in their exoskeletons. Chlorophyll on the other hand under UVb absorbs all light waves except for 'red' wavelengths which are reflected back.  Algae growing across cultivation areas can easily be identified using UVb light.

Not all insects that glow under UV light are considered pests.  Potentially beneficial organisms such as stick insects, millipedes and even anoles can be easily spotted using UVa and UVb flashlights.

My personal favorite light for night insect surveillance are lithium rechargable, well built LED units with UVb filters.

Though the grower may not spot all pest insects on their greenhouse or row crop plants, chances are any key pest infestation can be quickly identified.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Warrior Beetles and Organic Hemp Cultivation

 Warrior beetle.  Good insect for hemp cultivation.

Warrior beetles are excellent predatory pests to have in the Florida organic hemp cultivation area.

Pasimachus sp., plays an important role in our organic integrated pest management program. 

Pasimachus has a never ending appetite for pest insects in the garden! What a great predatory beetle. 

#IPM #organic #hemp #Florida #Floridahemp

Florida Hemp Cultivation Bed Preparation

 Hay arrived yesterday for spring gardens.

Hemp cultivation is made easier with a quality mulch such as organic hay.

Excellent quality organic hay is useful as a mulch in the hemp garden, usually a bit more pest free than our mulched leaves.

We do mulch and reuse our leaves too however we find hay to be a favorite for maintaining soil moisture, keeping soils less compacted and not as hot, for buffering pH and contributing to overall organic matter content.

Hay is easily to spread, lightweight and readily & sustainably available on a local basis.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Planting Bed Prep for Spring Organic Hemp Crop

We began breaking soil and adding mulched organic matter from the Arendell Hill site in preparation for spring hemp planting.

In addition to the mulched organic leaf litter bird feeder platforms are now added to the cultivation area. Arendell Hill is a favorite foraging location for all types of birds, from large raptors to small songbirds. 

We enlist the birds to protect our hemp plants. Songbirds work efficiently in eating certain pest insects such as caterpillars, beetles and bugs. 

Planted around the base of the bird feeders are native plants and wildflowers such as spotted bee balm, Monarda punctate. M. punctate attracts predatory wasps and other beneficial insects such as the assassin bug. Predatory wasps and assassin bugs control many cannabis crop pests through a variety of methods.

Arendell Hill Nursery employs a complex and highly integrated matrix of natural and organic pest control approaches. An understanding how the cultivation site's ecosystematics function allows the grower to take advantage of each and every biological, meteorological and geological variable for growing amazing quality CBD and CBG rich flowers. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Asian Lady Beetles and Organic Hemp (Cannabis) Cultivation

 I've been seeing Asian lady beetles, Harmonia axyridis, almost everywhere lately (early February 2022).

Asian Lady Beeetle, Harmonia axyridis, exotic insect and Organic Hemp Cultivation

Though they do little direct harm to cultivation (they do eat aphids) these exotics can cause serious nuisance issues around plants and especially in buildings. They certainly are not my preference for natural IPM across the hemp farm as they compete with native lady beetles.

Asian Lady Beetles on pepper plants at a local Tallahassee Nursery

Mostly, I tend to ignore them because they do not rise to the nuisance level of a 'key pest'. Beware though the Asian lady beetles can bite humans and they do leave a yellowish staining, foul smelling excretion when congregating in and around building windows.

Asian Lady Beetles should be monitored however across the hemp farm for potential damage

All in all, I'd rank them as a low species of concern, one worth notation (I certainly would not want too many of these insects foraging in plant flowers and buds) but not worth immediate worry over, across the hemp farm.