Prevention

With proper planning and thorough evaluation of a crop production plan, the majority of pest problems can be solved before they ever become problems. Frequently, prevention is the most efficient and effective means of dealing with issues. For some issues, prevention may be the only cure. In most operations, high quality crop production is a must. As a result, by the time many problems are found and diagnosed, it is already too late.

Critical components of pest prevention are planning, sanitation, exclusion, and cultural practices/environmental control.

Planning is the first step and should be conducted before the introduction of new crops or the start of new operations. This will allow solutions for many problems to be developed before the problems have the chance to occur.

Sanitation is another critical component. The cropping area should be clean and free of pests before planting. Weeds and old plants should be removed, and growing benches should be disinfected before new plants are moved into the area. This will prevent contamination of new stock with diseases and pests that might have built up in the area during the last cropping cycle.

Exclusion (keeping the clean area free of pests) begins with selection of high quality pest free stock. Only pest free tools and plants should be introduced into the growing area. Screens to break up large houses and double doors to the outside can help prevent pest contamination of pest-free growing zones.

Cultural practices/environmental control frequently have significant bearing on development of pest issues. Individual crops require a specific set of conditions for optimal growth. When growing conditions are unstable, plants can become stressed. This environmental stress predisposes plants to disease and other problems. Irrigation and fertilization are typically considered under the umbrella of cultural practices while heating and lighting are typically considered to be environmental factors. These major components must be carefully managed to encourage plant growth while discouraging pests. Systems such as irrigation, heating, ventilation, and lighting should be inspected before each cropping cycle to ensure suitable conditions for the crops. In instances where specific disease or pest issues are repeatedly seen, resistant cultivars may be selected. Crop rotation is also of great benefit because it can break up the pest's lifecycle. Correct and timely usage of heating and ventilation can control humidity levels which have great bearing on disease incidence.