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Growing Your Own 101 by Cold War Organics: Pests

Spider Mite. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Heady Vermont Staff
Heady Vermont Staff 19 Oct 2019

This article has been adapted from Paul Sachs’ Growing Your Own 101 article at ColdWarOrganics.com.

Although there are some cannabis pests that can be found almost everywhere, different regions typically have different pests. The list of all pests in all regions is too large for the scope of this article. There are plenty of pages online about specific pests and how to deal with them but most articles approach the subject from the standpoint of controlling rather than preventing pests.

Parents often blame themselves when their children get sick or injured and, plagued with guilt, painfully review what they could have or should have done to have achieved a different future. Though the analogy is far from bullet proof, if you regard your cannabis plants as adopted children, considering what you might have done differently might not be a bad approach. Many pest problems can be prevented.

Take diseases, for example. The simultaneous occurrence of a pathogen and a suitable host does not necessarily result in infection. Other conditions need to be favorable for pathogens to succeed. Like the human body, a cannabis plant has the ability to protect itself from diseases by producing many different chemical compounds that are toxic to fungal pathogens. The ability of the plant to successfully resist disease depends on many different factors.

If you regard your cannabis plants as adopted children, considering what you might have done differently might not be a bad approach. Many pest problems can be prevented.

When plants are stressed, compounds called oxidants accumulate and cause the breakdown of lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. This further stresses the plant. Cannabis responds by using a lot of energy to create more lipids and other cell components that were oxidized. As stress increases and energy production decreases, the plant cannot produce defensive chemicals and becomes less resilient to pathogens. Anti-stress products like Angel’s Touch™ can help plants re-establish proper energy management.

Other protection comes from the soil or, more accurately, from soil organisms. As clichéd as it may sound, there is truth to the axiom that a healthy soil promotes healthy plants. A rich soil, as its name implies, contains a wealth of resources. Most of us imagine a rich soil to be one that contains an abundance of plant nutrients capable of producing excellent yield. The term, however, has a deeper meaning. Resources are linked, either directly or indirectly, to one important soil component —humus.

Although the fraction of a mineral soil that is humus is relatively small, the function of this component is responsible for the lion’s share of the system’s benefits. The compounds that comprise the soil’s organic fraction are resources for billions of soil organisms. Paying attention to the needs of these organisms with applications of compost, Angel’s Touch™, and organic fertilizers will go a long way toward reducing or eliminating disease without using fungicides.

Plants that are growing in soils with optimum fertility and experiencing little or no stress generally have significantly lower incidences of insect pest damage.

Defense mechanisms against insect pests are similar. Plants that are growing in soils with optimum fertility and experiencing little or no stress generally have significantly lower incidences of insect pest damage. Luxury consumption of plant nutrients is rare in nature and can be as unhealthy to plants as it is to people. Insect bodies are almost 50 percent protein, the synthesis of which demands a good source of nitrogen.

Herbivorous insects must be able to locate an abundance of relatively soluble nitrogen to survive. A 1983 study showed seventeen of twenty-three plots fertilized with soluble nitrogen resulted in an increase in insect damage. Of all the essential plant nutrients, superfluous or insufficient levels of nitrogen and potassium in the plant seem to have the greatest effect on insect activity. Excess nitrogen can accumulate in plant tissue as soluble amino acids and nitrates-two forms of nitrogen that not only induce insect feeding but also egg laying. Use Bud Bread™ at recommended application rates.

Although no specific link has been made to other nutrient deficiencies and insect pest activity, it is reasonable to assume that all components of nutrition for both the plant and soil organisms are equally important.

Deficiencies or superfluities of potassium have an indirect effect on insect activity due to their relationship with nitrogen. Potassium acts in conjunction with nitrogen to accelerate the processing of soluble amino acids and nitrates into proteins by the plant. The less soluble nitrogen there is in the plant, the less attractive it is to herbivorous insects.

Although no specific link has been made to other nutrient deficiencies and insect pest activity, it is reasonable to assume that all components of nutrition for both the plant and soil organisms are equally important. Micronutrients that are needed in only trace amounts, for example, play a major role in the creation of over 5,000 different enzymes necessary for life functions-many of these enzymes provide protection for the plant.

Deer, gophers, and other four-legged cannabivores are sometime deterred by repellants made from garlic and other essential oils. Sometimes, a fence is the only protection.

The balance of soil organisms can affect the availability of nutrients to plants and increase efficiency. Biological activity often corresponds with plant growth and synchronizes availability with need. Biological nutrient management can ensure that plants receive optimal fertility but it cannot occur in environments that lack resources for soil organisms. The proteins, carbohydrates, and other organic compounds in plant residues, compost, and organic fertilizer are food for these valuable organisms. Biological resources combined with AACT and Angel’s Touch™ are a match made in ganja heaven.

Soil and plant health, unfortunately, have little effect on mammalian pests. Deer, gophers, and other four-legged cannabivores are sometime deterred by repellants made from garlic and other essential oils. Sometimes, a fence is the only protection.

Common sense is sometimes the best remedy. If you see a cluster of eggs, curled leaves, webbing, or leaf mining trails, cut off the affected leaves and incinerate them before the problem spreads. An adult insect lays eggs on plants that will be good meals for its offspring. Diseases require the same vigilance. If you see something…do something.

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