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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Cannabis Cultivation

Oct 9, 2020

Integrated Pest Management (or IPM for short) is a broad-based approach that primarily targets long-term prevention of common cannabis pests and the damage they can bring to both small and large scale grow operations. In terms of cannabis cultivation, it’s all about controlling and manipulating factors to create the perfect environment for your cannabis crops.

Successful IPM is often achieved using a combination of techniques that include:

  • habitat manipulation
  • modification of cultivation processes
  • use of biological control agents including predators, competitors, parasitoids, and pathogens
  • selection of more resistant plant varieties

Use of pesticides in IPM is often only considered as a last resort after thorough monitoring indicates they are required according to established protocols.  When using pesticides in IPM, the goal should be just to eliminate the targeted pest without harming beneficial insects and non-target organisms. Organic pest control measures are selected and administered in a manner that poses no risk to both human health and the environment.

What are pests?

Pests are living organisms that can cause damage or interfere with the normal growth and development of plants in our garden, yards, landscapes, agricultural fields, orchards, forests, and wildlands. They can also damage and slowly destroy homes, buildings and other structures. Some pests can just be simple nuisances while others can impact human and animal health by transmitting infection and disease. 

Pests come in many forms. They can be weeds, vines, birds, rodents, insects, snails, ticks, fleas, or mites. They can also be disease causing pathogens like fungi, molds, bacteria and viruses, or any other undesirable organism that can harm flora and fauna, water sources and other components of the ecosystem.

How Integrated Pest Management Works in Cannabis Cultivation

Integrated pest management is all about managing the ecosystem to prevent the proliferation of pests in the long-term. To begin with, you employ measures to prevent pests from becoming a problem by selecting disease-resistant cannabis varieties so you can grow a healthier crop that can ride out cannabis pest infestations. 

Instead of merely addressing existing bugs on marijuana plants, implementing IPM entails an assessment of various factors that are encouraging these particular pests to thrive in your cannabis grow space. When you get to the bottom of things, you can then manipulate and create an environment that would be unfavorable to these pests while keeping your crop healthy at the same time.

 existing bugs on marijuana plants

Successful IPM begins with monitoring crop health and correct pest identification. In addition, you need to determine the level of bugs in marijuana plants and the degree of damage these pests have caused. I cannot overemphasize the importance of correctly identifying the types of pests found in your grow space as this first step is crucial in determining which organic pest control approach to take.

When you have monitored environmental factors and gathered correct information about bugs on your cannabis plants, you can then determine if they can be tolerated or have the potential of causing a full-blown infestation. If treatment needs to be administered, all the information you have gathered will help you choose the most effective organic pest control methods and the best time to implement them.

Because IPM programs use a combination of complementary methods to address a cannabis pest problem, they work better together than separately. Pest management approaches are often classified in the following categories:

  • Biological Control. This entails the use of natural enemies or competitors of a particular pest and may include predator bugs and mites, parasites, and pathogens.
  • Cultural Control. This involves practices designed to reduce pest formation, distribution, reproduction and survival. An example would be improving drainage since too much water will encourage root disease and the proliferation of weeds.
  • Mechanical/Physical Control. This approach confronts pests directly by blocking or killing them, or making the environment unsuitable for their proliferation. Yellow or blue sticky traps are great examples of mechanical control. Physical control can entail the use of screens to keep insects out or mulch for weed management.
  • Chemical Control. This is where pesticides come in IPM, but only when badly needed and used in combination with other natural methods for longer lasting results. Pesticides used in IPM programs are selective, meaning they will only target a particular pest without harming beneficial insects and other non-target organisms. These pesticides will also maintain air, water and soil quality and are safe on humans and the environment.

Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control in Beaverton Oregon can help you come up with a customized Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for your cannabis garden or grow room. With the right controls, you can take action when marijuana bugs and other cannabis pests show up – and then have complete peace of mind.