It’s happened to every grower: vegging plants stop growing as quickly as the rest of the crop, or maybe leaves are yellowing and stressed despite the plants receiving nutrients regularly. A closer look at a stunted plant reveals a grower’s worst nightmare – an outbreak of pests!
A Matter of ‘When’ and not ‘If’
Every cannabis grower will deal with pests in their crop at some stage. The reality for anyone growing anything is that the environment that best suits their plants will also attract pests. By the time the grower discovers an infestation, it is often too late, but there are proven techniques that can be applied to prevent and control pests.
There are many ways cannabis pests can enter and infest a garden, regardless of the growing environment. Small insects that are airborne for part of their lifecycle can enter a clean grow room on clothing or can be borne by the wind into a garden. Pests can lay eggs in soil or on clones that hatch when plants are vegging.
Good Practices to Prevent Pest Infestation
Here are some of the most common ways pests can find their way into cannabis plants and some of the best preventative measures and control methods you can use.
Clothing: Clothes can carry pests indoors from outside. A single aphid clinging to clothes worn outdoors can be a vector for a quickly growing colony. The grower can reduce risk by changing into clean clothes before entering their grow environment.
Planting mix: Unsterilised soil may contain eggs and diseases that can hinder plant growth. Most high-quality potting soils are sterilised before being sold. Smaller amounts of garden soil can be sterilised at home by heating the oven to 82C and baking for 30 minutes.
Infected stock: If the cultivator is growing seedlings or clones sourced from friends, grow shops, or other growers, a good practice is to quarantine the plants away from the growing environment for one week. Observe the plants for any pests or infections and if necessary, spray them with natural pesticides like neem oil or pyrethrum.
Pets: Pets can bring pests into a growing environment in the same way as clothes. Do not let pets enter the grow space.
Air: A good practice for indoor cultivators is to filter the incoming air, as aphids and fungus gnats that are airborne for part of their lifecycle can ride currents straight into a grow room.
Plant debris: Pests are likely to multiply under plant debris, which is also a vector for powdery mildew and other pathogens. Dispose of any pruned foliage, dead leaves, and plants as soon as possible.