Scouting is essential in sweet pepper cultivation. By locating pests in time, you can impede further population development – according to Biobest advisor, John van Eijk - from the Netherlands. "It starts with the introduction of sticky traps,” he says. “At the beginning of the crop most growers also opt for a chemical spray programme. Afterwards, we recommend growers build up a population of predatory mites as quickly as possible. These are then in place, ready to get to work when pests appear.
“Most pepper growers choose Biobest’s Bug-Scan® Yellow sticky traps for the timely detection of pests such as thrips, whitefly and leaf miner. Bug-Scan® Blue sticky traps are particularly attractive to thrips, making them ideally suited to monitoring this pest."
Building up a standing army
“After the initial spray programme, it is really important to build up a good population of predatory mites in a short time as possible,” explains John. “This so-called 'standing army' is then in-situ, ready to control the main pests - thrips, whitefly and/or spider mite.” Biobest offers several effective predatory mite controls - Montdorensis-System, Swirskii-System and Degenerans-System. Growers tend to choose the predatory mite system they have found most effective in the past.
“Careful scouting remains essential throughout the season,” says John. "If a disease or pest appears, growers can then take prompt targeted action. The Californian thrip, for instance, can transmit Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. Infected plants are best removed as soon as identified.”
Monitoring southern green shield bug
Accurate scouting and targeted control are also highly recommended to combat outbreaks of southern green shield bug Nezara viridula – an increasing problem in sweet pepper crops. "Currently there is no effective biological control for this shield bug,” explains John. “It’s therefore crucial to monitor carefully. If the pest is discovered, it is best tackled on the spot. Effective insecticides are incompatible with biocontrol programmes – full crop applications should be a last resort."
Finally, John highlights the role of Crop-Scanner: “With this handy digital tool, you can keep track of pest developments in the crop. Using Crop-Scanner, scouting observations and pest counts from sticky traps can be immediately entered digitally while working in the crop. In the web portal, the grower can then retrieve this scout data, view the map of the greenhouse and visualise hotspots. The portal can also show the grower how pest populations develop over time.”