As the UK is a protected zone for Bemisia whitefly, under the EC Plant Health Directive, it’s extremely important that we continue to stay vigilant against the pest.
Graeme Edwards, of Woodlark Nurseries Ltd, Surrey, explains that this particular pest, as a sap-sucking insect, has the potential to spread diseases in glass house crops.
“As it has spread widely into field crops and ornamental plants in Europe, it’s important for us to embrace a zero-tolerance approach.”
Mr Edwards, who grows annual flowering plants on his 10-acre site, in partnership with his father, explains what they do to protect their crops from the pest.
“We buy our cuttings and plugs from Europe, which is not part of the protected zone, so there is a chance that Bemisia whitefly may be present. Therefore, we must take every precaution to ensure the pest is eradicated, and not introduced.
“With this pest, it’s not about keeping it at a low level, but keeping it out in the first place,” he adds.
“To ensure a clean start, this year we have treated our cuttings with Botanigard before planting. This has enabled us to ensure that the pest is not present at planting, which will reduce problems going forward.
“As part of our IPM strategy delivered in conjunction with Certis, we followed this up with a mixture of biorational and conventional sprays, which really seems to work for us.”
“Regularly monitoring our crops for pests by using yellow sticky traps, is paramount, as this enables us to see any pest pressures before they become a widespread problem.
“In terms of understanding the native whitefly pressures we experience, we speak to local growers to establish pest pressures in the area and regularly read the AHDB weekly pest bulletins,” explains Mr Edwards.
“It’s important for the industry as a whole to stay vigilant against this damaging pest if we are to remain in protected zone for years to come.”